‘Fuel’: The Real Costs of the Oil Economy and Real Solutions We Can Effect Now

Fuel (dir: Josh Tickell)

Here’s a few modest proposals: What if we took all of the government subsidies away from big oil and big cars and applied that money and tax breaks for converting Detroit auto plants into creating hybrids and electric cars and diesel, in subsidizing the development of wind and solar industries in the U.S. (and creating jobs from building parts to installing the finished work), in creating algae farms to recycle human waste into soladiesel and creating the most energy efficient biofuel yet known to man?

What if the government mandated that all federal fleets of passenger cars and vans and small trucks would be either hybrid or biodiesel, and supported the fleets with fuel contracts to the most energy efficient and environmentally responsible biofuel sources?

What if every municipality turned to biodiesel to fuel its fleet of city and school busses and turned its sewage treatment centers into algae farms to soladiesel production to supply the fuel?

What if every gas station in the country had to provide at least one dedicated pump to biofuel as part of its licensing requirements?

That’s not what you expect to read in a film review, but those were the things I was mulling over in the initial minutes and the ensuing days after seeing Josh Tickell’s documentary Fuel.

Josh Tickell takes his message to the streets
Josh Tickell takes his message to the streets

So many documentaries, many of them excellent and provocative pieces of filmmaking, are like pieces of investigative journalism to uncover malfeasance, criminality, corruption and cover-ups. They find the bad guys and the bad policies and bring them to our attention, and we get righteously angry. Josh Tickell does his due diligence on the costs of an oil-dependent economy and lifestyle and on the machinery in place to keep the country dependent on oil, but he’s more concerned with the solutions. Not just potential and possibilities, but the practical solutions that individuals and communities are currently using. He also turns out to be almost as good a filmmaker as he is a cheerleader and an inspirational leader.

Fuel is energetic and informative, and it challenges us not to simply accept what we are told about energy policy by industry or the government, but to research things for ourselves. And that’s why I love this film. I didn’t leave the theater thinking, “What a great film.” I left thinking, “How can we make this happen now?”

The film is currently getting a test run in the Seattle WA, Portland OR and Austen TX, and is scheduled for a wide release in 2009.

I review the film for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer here.

I also talk to Tickell in a brief “A Moment With” interview about the film and about green energy here.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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