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A national goal and a broad program to eliminate the petroleum fueled internal combustion engine by 2050 will reduce CO2 emissions



Americans consume around 1.7 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel annually. Worldwide more than double that. Multiply that by the pounds of CO2 produced for each gallon burned and you don’t need a PhD in mathematics to grasp the problem.

This is not a one-issue crisis. Burning gas and diesel creates issues beyond that of CO2 emissions.

  • Internal combustion engine (ICE) exhaust is linked to health issues and early deaths.
  • Security for the steady flow of oil is costly.
  • Oil imports are a drain on our economy.
  • Environmental disasters are a constant issue.


These problems will not be solved by the federal government's CAFÉ standards which actually encourage auto manufacturers (OEMs) to spend their R&D dollars on improving the efficiency of their ICEs, or on designing hybrid vehicles. The only solution is to replace the ICE with electric drive.

Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) present solutions in their book, Reinventing Fire, but in the case of our personal vehicles, their solutions fail to address the major roadblock to the switch to electric vehicles (EVs): industry resistance.

We need an OFF2050 plan.

Kicking our addiction to oil rests with the EV, but switching will require commitment and effort. It will be expensive, extremely disruptive to literally millions of Americans, and industry"s resistance must be overcome There is, therefore, a need for research, planning, preparation, funding, and coordination, across a very abroad spectrum of businesses, government agencies, research facilities, financial institutions, manufacturers, and think tanks.

Under the OFF2050 plan, the President and Congress will commit to eliminating the petroleum fueled internal combustion engine (ICE) by 2050. They will set up a task force to focus the human and financial resources needed to make it happen over the next 36 years.

Cooperation between government agencies and private enterprise, as well as legislation, will be the keys to success.

Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action

What actions do you propose?

In Reinventing Fire the authors believe that business is the engine with the power to drive the energy transition. That may well be the case in most areas, but in the case of our personal vehicles there are emerging signs that businesses may be dragging their feet when it comes to abandoning the ICE in favor of the electric drive.

Obviously, the oil companies will see a tremendous drop in demand for their oil, gasoline and diesel products. Auto manufacturers will see a reduction in sales of both vehicles and parts as a result of the longer life of the electric drive. And auto dealerships and independent service centers will most certainly see a large drop in their revenues from repairs.

The OFF2050 plan specifically addresses the industry's hesitation to produce electric drive vehicles. It calls for a disruptive paradigm shift in how the automobile and the petroleum industries conduct business. Toes will, be stepped on, and turf, revenues, and profits will be threatened. There will be push back from industry, elected officials, government agencies, and labor. Progress and success will depend on all of them working together, not pushing back.

Someone, somewhere, has to start the ball rolling if we are to develop a plan of action for the smooth transition from the ICE to the electric drive in transportation. Considering the way our political, regulatory, financial, and industrial systems interact, the chances that any major corporation, government agency, or elected official, will step up, are next to zero. This means that a grass roots campaign must take the first steps, build a power base, and then bring the players to the table with a solid measure of credibility. To that end I propose the following actions:

  1. Action began when the program was branded as OFF2050, the following domains were registered:, .org, .net, and .info. and this contest was entered.
  2. The prize money from this contest will be the seed funding to form a non-profit organization with a small staff who will create an online presence using a website and social media venues.
  3. Contacts and connections made from the exposure gained from winning the contest will be used  to build a team of staff and volunteers with the expertise, drive, and credentials to move the program forward..
  4. The team will further broaden the program’s outreach capabilities by developing educational and inspirational materials.
  5. Form partnerships with other organizations, such as the RMI, that can help build the network.
  6. Present every member of Congress and key members of the Administration with the OFF2050 program.
  7. Convince congress and the Administration of the need to set a national goal of eliminating the petroleum fueled ICE from the transportation sector by 2050.
  8. Work with the Administration to establish the broad based, national task force with all of the affected industries, agencies, organizations, institutions, and businesses at the table.
  9. Develop the OFF2050 program's basic framework.
  10. Identify areas of, and quantify targets for, cooperative efforts amongst the players. Open exchange of patents, ending R&D investments in the ICE, and sharing costs for battery and fuel cell research are all areas of possible cooperation.
  1. Draft and pass required legislation for actions that can't be achieved through cooperation. Key legislation that would apply to personal vehicles would:
  • Replace the CAFE standards with OFF2050 standards. Using the ICE production numbers for 2016, set them as the benchmark numbers that each auto manufacturer will be allowed to import or produce annually. Each year thereafter, they must reduce their ICE production by 3% of that 2016 benchmark production number. By 2050 they will produce no ICE powered vehicles.
  • Impose a $0.20 a gallon fee on gasoline and diesel fuels. This fee would increase by an additional $0.20  a year for the next 30 years at which time it would total $6.00 a gallon. This money would be used to convert gas stations to battery charging and/or  hydrogen fuel stations, factory retooling, employee retraining, and the gradual conversion of existing ICE vehicles to electric drive.
  • Create a transformation fund to handle the $0.20 annually increasing fee on gasoline and diesel fuels. In 2013 the US consumed 134,510 ,000,000 gallons of gasoline, which, at 0.20 per gallon would have generated $26,900,000,000. Each year thereafter, the fund would grow by a lesser amount as gasoline consumption decreased due to the increasing  number of electric drive vehicles on the road.


12.  Use the transformation funds to

  • Convert  present day gas stations to either hydrogen fuel stations, battery  charging stations, or to other non fueling, commercial uses.
  • Aid the auto companies with the cost of retooling.
  • Provide employee retraining for those that will lose their jobs.
  • Convert the internal combustion engine cars, still on the road as time passes, to either battery electric drive or hydrogen fuel cell electric drive.



Who will take these actions?

A small grass roots movement starts the the process, which quickly grows into a national movement that can't be ignored by our elected representatives nor industrial leaders.

Congress and the President set a national goal of eliminating the petroleum fueled ICE by the year 2050, and they create a task force to accomplish that goal.

The national task force develops the details for OFF2050. This task force would consist of all of the major players that will be affected by the elimination of petroleum based fuels. Also at the table would be battery and fuel cell research teams, the US Departments of Energy, Defense, and Commerce, members of Congress, representatives from the Administration, and financial institutions. 

Congress passes OFF2050 production standards and fuel fee legislation.


Where will these actions be taken?

Start with the United States, build a successful program, then work with other nations to replicate.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

A 3% reduction in personal transportation emissions each year for 33 years.

What are other key benefits?

The elimination of emissions from the transportation sector.

The end of costly oil imports.

End the expense of using our military assets to protect the flow of middle eastern oil.

Clean air

Reduced healthcare costs

More economical vehicles for consumers.

The grid will become cleaner as owners of battery electric vehicles  install solar panels on their homes. This results in fuel independence for the owner, and more dispersed or distributed generation. The latter reduces the need to build new, centralized power plants.




What are the proposal’s costs?

I am not qualified to estimate the costs to eliminate the ICE from transportation, but suffice to say, they will be high, complicated and unlike any other program that we have undertaken in the history of our country.

The cost of President Kennedy's "Man on the Moon" program pales in comparison, as does the Manhattan project of WW II. However, as with both of those programs, the financial benefits to future generations will prove the initial cost to be a sound investment.

The brains of the task force will be put to the test for sure, and it may be that the annually increasing $0.20 a gallon may not cover the costs. Whatever the costs, we must do this.


Time line

Our history is full of examples of what the American spirit can accomplish. From the signing of the Declaration of independence and the adoption of our Constitution, to the development of the atomic bomb and the landing of a man on the moon, Americans have always been driven to set lofty goals and then do what they have to to reach them.

Ending the ICE age is unlike any other technological advancement that our society has ever attempted to embrace. The changes involved here are so disruptive that to leave the time line for that change to be based on  laissez-faire principles is asking for chaos, or failure, or both.

  • There is no single, superior replacement for the internal combustion engine available at this time, but a superior technology does exist; the electric drive. However, powering the electric drive is the problem as fuel cells are expensive, and batteries lack the energy density to provide the desired range and re-charging time.
  • There are huge investments: in the existing fleet of ICE vehicles, in their manufacturing facilities, and in their fueling infrastructure. These investments must be protected as they are realigned.
  • There are millions of jobs involved that will not exist in the world of EVs.
  • There are revenue streams with strong profits that will no longer exist as the EVs take over. Unless the affected companies and institutions can maintain profits with revised business models they will be powerful adversaries fighting the adoption of EVs in Congress and in the market place.


The only sensible approach is to carry out the transformation over an extended period of time that allows all of the affected parties to adapt with as little disruption as possible and still reach the goal before we: 1) run out of oil, and/or 2) totally destroy our environment.


Related proposals



Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era is a 2011 book, by Amory B. Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute

Gasoline consumption

Running out of oil:

Internal Combustion By Edwin Black