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FedEx CEO Frederick Smith (right), a former U.S. Marine, says that America's oil "addiction" is costing American lives and jobs.  (Source: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Many have claimed that America's invasion of Iraq, costly in American lives, was driven by a desire/need to safeguard the nation's oil supplies.  (Source: AP Photo)

Mr. Smith says electrification -- and government intervention -- are the only workable solution as there's no "free market" in oil (FedEx EV delivery truck pictured)
Company says failing to transition to EVs would be disastrous for America

Oil prices may be easing for a minute, but it's fresh off new record highs, having reached $4.30 USD across many parts of the U.S.  Yet despite enthusiasm by industry figures and the government, there's still much debate about whether electrified vehicles like hybrids, battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are really going to be viable.  Some analysts and customers say they are turning the corner -- others say electrified vehicles still don't make sense [1] [2].

FedEx Corp. (FDX) joined the fray, when its Chairman, President, and CEO Frederick W. Smith published an editorial in The Financial Times, which FedEx later reprinted on its own site.

In the article Mr. Smith firmly throws FedEx's support behind electrification, which he characterizes as vital for U.S. security and financial stability.

Regarding the financial costs, he writes:

Every American recession over the past 35 years has been preceded by – or occurred concurrently with – an oil-price spike. The last time this happened, just a few years ago, the average retail price of gasoline in the US increased from $1.46 to $3.27, costing typical households $2,115 a year in increased fuel expenses. That price spike contributed greatly to the recession and financial crisis which the world is still struggling to recover from.

And Mr. Smith, who served as a U.S. Marine from 1966 to 1970, also complains that America's "addiction" to foreign oil is also costing the lives of servicemen:

This addiction has also led the US to commit its young men and women in uniform to protecting the world’s oil infrastructure. And it means that western diplomacy is handicapped by the need to placate oil-producing nations, including those that do not share America’s views or values. 

II. What Should be Done?

Mr. Smith says that given that the U.S. spent $260B USD last year on foreign oil, the "wisdom of producing more [oil] domestically becomes clear".  He praises stricter safety and environmental standards regarding oil exploration, but complains that some environmentalists and government bureaucrats are acting as obstructionists.

Fuel economy improvements are another vital mechanism, according to Mr. Smith.  The CEO praised former U.S. President George W. Bush and current President Barrack Obama for passing updates to the CAFE standards, which are actively forcing automakers to improve fleet wide efficiency.

But he complains that oil drilling and fuel economy improvements are only "interim measures".  He comments that the only real way to save the U.S. is through electrification, stating:

Only electricity can give the transport sector the flexibility to switch fuels when one or more become too expensive. Electricity from homegrown sources – wind or solar, coal or hydro, natural gas or nuclear – would free America’s mobile economy from dependence on a single source. And unlike some alternatives, the infrastructure backbone for “refueling” electric vehicles already exists in the US national grid, which offers significant spare generating capacity at night, when it is needed for this purpose.

He says he's not one usually for government intervention, but that the government must intervene to push electrification as there's no free market on oil.  He writes:

I am not someone who tends to advocate for increased government involvement in the private sector. Free-market solutions to these economic threats would be ideal. But there is no free market for oil. To the contrary, today more than 90 per cent of proved conventional global oil reserves are held by national oil companies that are either fully or partially controlled by foreign governments, whose interests often have as much or more to do with geopolitical considerations than free-market principles. 

The issue is one that hits close to home for FedEx.  FedEx has attempted some modest electrification projects, but the majority of its fleet runs on gasoline.  And as a business heavily driven by ground shipping, the company is very vulnerable to gas price fluctuations.

The company's CEO remains optimistic that America can electrify and kick America's "addiction" to foreign oil, but warns, "The time to do so without truly calamitous consequences is rapidly running out."

DailyTech has raised similar thoughts, in some regard, in past editorials about transition America's economy to an all-electric infrastructure driven by clean nuclear power.

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RE: But then again.....
By Gzus666 on 5/20/2011 4:51:48 PM , Rating: 1
Am I correct in assuming that you would agree that drugs like meth should stay off limits? What criteria would you use to rationalize a new approach to the legality of drugs (harm to individual & society, addictiveness, etc.)?

I see no reason to limit any of them. Realistically, the people who do meth aren't stopping because it is illegal and the people who don't do meth aren't not doing it because it is illegal. Once you break into things where you can no longer function on them, the majority of people won't do them, legal or not.

I find it odd that we care so much about harm to themselves when you can go out and eat 100 Big Macs a day and no one cares. If someone wants to destroy their own life, it is not my place to say they can't. Actions are still illegal whether you are on drugs or not, drugs being legal would not affect this. If you shoot someone while on meth, you still shot someone, no difference.

might be an area we could compromise on as long as my tax dollars don't fund somebody's use of the morning after pill or more "extreme" solutions.

Your tax dollars will fund somebody's bastard child on welfare, but the few bucks on a morning after pill bothers you? I would much rather they abort some child that will grow to be a pile of crap vs. an 18 year welfare child, then a welfare adult, making more of itself. Remember, the burnout idiots breed considerably more than the successful people. I'm fine with socialized eugenics, at least there will be less stupid/lazy people to deal with.

RE: But then again.....
By JLL55 on 5/22/2011 12:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that many of the prosecutions are bad - if someone wants to destroy themselves, that's their right. however, I think on the otherside, people using meth/crack/etc can have a deleterious effect on others in the specific state. I feel laws should still be present to protect you from someone else. That's why i laud the passage of the anti-smoking acts and feel that they should be implemented country wide. If you want to smoke, go ahead, enjoy it, but don't make me breathe it because you decided to poison yourself. Same with hard drugs, you want to do it, fine, but don't make me suffer for your decisions. I also like how other countries (Netherlands) don't treat hard drugs as crimes, but as sicknesses. Instead of being thrown in jail for using, help them stop, let them become productive members of societies. If however they don't then maybe punitive results can be considered. Very very good article and comments. I am very impressed.

RE: But then again.....
By Lerianis on 5/22/11, Rating: 0
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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