Robert McFarlane: Open Fuel Standards Are Critical to Fighting the Peak Oil Catastrophe

“Well, I wish I had a more hopeful answer for you. You’ve nailed it. We really are very likely to face either a disruption violently [by terrorism] or a political decision by OPEC to change the price of oil to $200 to $300 per barrel and literally destroy the global economy.”

So predicts Robert McFarlane in today’s interview, which focuses on current U.S. energy policy and the risks it faces. Mr. McFarlane’s many decades of public and private service in both the Middle East and global energy markets make him uniquely qualified to opine on the merits (or lack thereof) of the energy strategy that the U.S. is pursuing.

He sees the U.S. as committed to a foolish “monopoly-fuel” system that leaves it dependent upon and dangerously vulnerable to the actions of external players, including those hostile to U.S. interests. And as the impacts of Peak Oil begin to be felt, he believes it is a near certainty that our country - along with the global economy - will experience great shocks which we have no plans currently in place to address sufficiently. The solution lies in creating a viable market for alternative fuels, which is in our power to do, provided we can muster the political and civic will. And do so quickly.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Robert C. McFarlane (runtime 34m:39s):

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In this podcast, Robert and Chris discuss:


How we can change from our current flawed policy (i.e., rely heavily on oil imports and go to war every seven years when our interests are threatened) without having to wait for new technologies to save us. We have the technologies we need to become energy self-sufficient; what we need is the national conviction to apply them (e.g., biodiesel, ethanol, methanol, gas, electricity). Consumers can then decide at the pump which one(s) to use. Once enough government-funded infrastructure is in place, private capital will begin to fund the system, as investors are able to see a market-driven mechanism for receiving a return on their investment.

As with our recent interviews with David Collum, Joe Saluzzi, Jim Rogers, Marc Faber, and Bill Fleckenstein, Robert ends the interview with advice for the listener, including contacting your representatives in Congress, expressing your concerns, and asking them to vote for the “open fuel standard.” Doing nothing is a mandate for the current monopoly system.



Robert C McFarlane served two tours of duty in Vietnam, then held positions as Special Assistant for National Security Affairs under President Ford and National Security Advisor & special representative to the Middle East and under President Regan. After his reitrement from public service he founded Global Energy Investors a developer of energy infrastructure projects in Asia and South America, and Energy and Communications Solutions LLC which focused on projects in Russia, Turkey and other emerging countries. He serves currently as Chairman of McFarlane and Associates Inc, a consulting firm focused on advancing techonologies in the national and homeland security domains. He now dedicates much of his time to peace-making efforts in the Middle East and reducing US dependence on foreign oil.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

“We have the technologies we need to become energy self-sufficent; what we need is the national conviction to apply them.”



This is what we need to write to congress about.  I think it should have been bolded above, so I’ll do it here:
open fuel standard


… dons

A compact and powerful external combustion automotive engine would be unmatched with respect to multi-fuel capacity. This is a viable solution that is unfortunately all but completely ignored and/or misunderstood.
A modern steam car would see many advantages over existing technologies:

  • It would drive as an automatic, but require no clutch or transmission.

  • Fuel economy would be similar to conventional gas cars during highway driving, but much higher during city driving.

  • The use of varied fuels would not affect the performance or the efficiency of the engine, and the engine could use these different fuels without any modifications. It could even use them simultaneously. Furthermore, the fuels require far less refining as compared to internal combustion engines. This will lower costs as a large portion of these costs is tied up with the capital and energy required in the refining process. Lowering these costs may also lead to some fuel options becoming economical viable.

  • The emissions would pass the most stringent smog standards with no emissions controls equipment required, meaning no costly and complicated catalytic converters, fuel/air sensors and delivery components, or computer controls.

  • The weight and bulk of the system would be no greater than conventional gasoline automotive systems in use today.

  • They are inherently quiet without using noise suppression equipment

  • They do not require oil lubrication. Modern steam systems can be water lubricated.

See Cyclone Power Technologies for an example of a modern automotive steam system currently in development:

Chris MartensenFirst off,  I am impressed that you interviewed such an incredible guest, the man is an integral part of the United States recent history.
Sadly though, I am shocked and surprised that Mr. McFarlane supports such flawed legislation. The Open Fuel Standard is at best a poorly thought out first step. Any solution that involves Ethanol or Bio-Diesel, is merely the result of the agricultural industry attempting to gain market share from the petroleum industry. Niether industry has America’s best interests in mind.
One must remember when former Washington D.C. insiders speak publically, they have an agenda that represents corporate interests. The only question one should have, is which corporate interest Mr. McFarlane is currently representing. Given Mr. McFarlane’s repeated comments regarding Ethanol and Bio-diesel, I think it is obvious his consulting clients are Cargill, ADM, etc.
Now for the objective truth:
The first step must be use of our natural gas reserves period. These reserves are plentiful and will buy the needed time for the country to solve the longer term problems associated with Peak Oil. There is no easy approach, all solutions have merit,  but any mass solution that involves agriculture is a poorly thought out concept at best. While cellulosic ethanol sounds good, the simple truth is plant matter requires water to grow… lots of water, and lots of petroleum to harvest and process.  I am fairly certain you and your readers are aware of the long term issues surrounding population growth and water requirements.  That water would be best used to grow edible crops not automotive. (Assuming one is looking out for the entire country, as opposed to large agricultural interests)
If you want freedom from the Middle East, use natural gas, it is that simple.
While I applaud Mr. McFarlane’s service to our country, I am curious as to why he ommitted the only real near term solution, namely domestically produced natural gas. While natural gas is not the only long term solution, it is without a doubt the best near term solution. Mr. McFarlane seemed to gloss over that fact, and I thought I should point it out .
For the record, I have no consulting clients and I represent only the best interests of the American public.
Dennis Lamason

An interesting and informative podcast. One subject came never came up though and I guess it may have remained in the background out of respect for the guest. That subject is EROEI. Some of the ‘fixes’ mentioned in the conversation are not viable due to very low EROEI. I am glad, however, that you pointed out that what we have is a predicament as opposed to a problem.

Nice first post Dennis. Welcome.

I like McFarlane. Nothing clears the sinuses better than being shot at.
My mind raced like an explosion of squirrels up various topics while listening to the interview. I will now round them up.

I felt your frustration at the obtusness of the Herd.  What we have here is Cognitive Dissonance.

We have to find out how the Brain works. Here is a good place to start. “The Master and his Emmissary.”

How to reduce a tome to a sound bite?  You have two brains. One deals with the gestalt, and one with linear logic. (Men build airships. I am a man. Therefore I build airships.)

Now the upshot of the way the wetware works is that unless Reality is experienced by the Gestaldt right brain it cannot be intergrated into the Logic of the Left.

So, given this reality, I shall now attempt the impossible.

The answer is not chemical burning. Chemical burning is so yesterday. We have to make use of the Weak and Strong Forces.

“18 hours * 16 kWh = 288 kWh = 1,037 MJ. That is the amount of energy in 26 kg of gasoline (7.9 gallons). Given the size and weight of the device, this rules out a chemical source of energy.” from

Oh well. 

I tried.

Your Cyclone Power Technologies and my Low Energy Nuclear Reactions are a marriage made in heaven.

Now move shops and offices close to where people live and you won’t need a car most the time. Cuts gasoline usage by 90%. When everyone starts swiching to natural gas, then that will peak ina few years and then we are back to square one.
I moved to Thailand and am now staying in Bangkok. I have everything i need within a 500m radius, that includes school, park, shopping, work (from home office), sport center etc… Still Bangkok is a city with continuous traffic jams and sometimes complete deadlocks. Why? I guess people like to stay inside their car and spend 4-5 times as long to travel the same distance as i do walking, sure it is warm outside, but at least 5 degrees of that can be contributed to the cars running their airconditioning non stop. Still more than 90% of the people living here don’t have a car, so the 10% is poluting the air and jams public transport for the other 90%. It is just silly. For me a gradual rising price to at least 500$ a barrel oil seems the only way to force us going forward.

Back in my own country The Netherlands everyone is starting and finishing work at the same time causing again major traffic jams. A 10 minute drive is then at least 1.5 hour. Solutions to solve that are easy but are never implemented. You wonder why? I am convinced everyone is afraid of change, even when it makes your live better.

What i think needs to be done is take out the car for the home to work, home to shopping , home to school etc travels. Everything around us is build to be reached by car only, that is just stupid. Start with that and save lots of fuel countering the effect or rising prices. The oil that is still available is much to usefull for other purposes then just dragging a block of steel from one place to another.


I second Dennis (Welcome!) and Brainless.  As much as I could grant McFarlane his status due to his actions, which are considerable, I just don’t see his suggestions being that relevant to our main predicament.  Transportaion fuels are crucial right NOW because of our screwed up system- one person, one car, out-of-season fruits available year ‘round from halfway around the world, etc.  Don’t forget all the tires and brake pads, air filters, miles of highway that constantly need maintenance, etc.  I’m sorry, but I just don’t see another alternative fuel system as being a game-changer, at least not sustainably…On the other hand, maybe not sending the billions of $$ overseas for fuel WOULD a game changer that may address the main prediciment- economic- though TPTB getting wealthy now  will continue to amass more with a new fuel system economy. I’m thinkin’ live-work situations and a decent mass transit system and localized food production. Too many people wanting too much energy- and goods, and food- from a fixed system.  How will Robert’s ideas address that long-term?  Did I mention climate change?  Aloha, Steve.

It is reflective of industrial culture that the focus so often seems to shift from how to live within natural energy constraints to “how do we keep the cars going?”.   There are much more serious consequences to deal with, and besides, the cars are a major part of the problem.

Doesn’t anyone know who this scumbag is!!???  Anyone?
First:  He’s a CFR Member (this should tell you everything, but some are more dense than others)

Second:  Was the man behind Oliver North in the Iran Contra Affair!

Third:  Has attended Bilderberg

Having this man looked at positively on this site makes me sick.  Anyone that knows anything about the above organizations, knows that membership is NOT for the betterment of mankind!  I question the agenda of this site.

[Moderator’s note: This post is a violation of the forum rulesIt reads as a direct personal attack against an invited guest, and fails the “dinner table” test spectacularly.  Corrective action with the user has been undertaken.]


The fact that someone from these organizations is talking about peak oil is a big deal.

[quote=LogansRun]Doesn’t anyone know who this scumbag is!!???  Anyone?
Just what I read in The Nightgale’s Song.  Hard to get a complete read on him from there.  He was presented like the others … as a flawed human being, just like all the rest of us.  I didn’t get the sense he was a terribly bad guy.  Accurate or inaccurate?  I often wonder how many CFR members and Bilderberg attendees are malevolent vs. misdirected.  Some, there’s no doubt, are not good people.  Some, I think, just get swept along by the position and the power, not fully understanding the really big picture.  

[quote=LogansRun]  I question the agenda of this site.
OMG! Dr. Martinson’s been co-opted AAAARGGH ! RUN FER THA HILLS
LR, Thanks for pointing out McFarlane’s ties to the uninitiated. Don’t fret, we’ve not run amok nor joined the CFR.

I agree that we are in the begiinning stage of a huge energy crisis.
I was listenning to the proposed ‘solution’ and kept wondering if Mr. McFarlane is fully informed. Food prices are already rising in this country while the EPA has just allowed 15% of etanol content. Maybe his proposal is to cut forests to produce etanol? Brazil is cutting forests ‘succesfully’ for many years…

Agree with Dennis here, but want more details about natural gas usage in cars.

Sadly, but I don’t see other options except major investments to alternative enrgy sources.

 Alex Rosin



I started to write a long-winded response to this before I read Logan’s Run’s, and am glad I can bag most of that.
Let’s just say I’m very skeptical that someone who spent his career destabilizing the world, promoting terrorism and projecting US empire on the unwilling has suddenly had a late-life conversion and is now interested in “peace making.”  It’s a lot more likely he’s doing what all the rest of the retired “made men” of discredited administrations do, and that’s peddling his influence for the benefit of high-paying vested interests.  That this site would give an obvious shill like this a platform to do so lowers my estimation of the critical judgement of its owners.

So, McFarland is a ratbag.  To be a sucessful ratbag, one must have a good idea of what’s what and who’s who.  Of course what one does with that informations is telling, but that has little bearing on the veracity of the data.  McFarland is an insider and insights to insiders, especially from the horse’s mouth, merrit attention.  He has operated in the instituitons of power and knows how they work and who the key players are.  Yes, he’s trying to turn a buck on that information, so he’s just like all the others.  We need to handle him as one would a rattlesnake.  Like it or not, rattlesnakes are an important part of their ecosystem.  You can’t really describe their habitat without including them.  Just remember they’re also full of venom.

check out “lindsey williams on alex jones” on youtube