Friday, February 10, 2006

A shell game with energy funding. But it looked good on TV.

In his State of the Union Speech last week, President Bush said,

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas.

To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.

We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.

Now, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, although criticizing his slowness to address this problem. I did wish him success in fixing this problem.

I did post this paragraph though:

Now, I hope that the President is serious about ending our addiction to oil (for greenhouse gas reasons, in addition to other reasons), but let's see if he follows his words with actions.

Of course, it didn't take more than a few hours for the White House to backtrack on the President's comments, in effect saying that he didn't really mean it.

But the real test came this week. In the President's budget. And it fails the sniff test.

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's latest spending plan is unlikely to substantially reduce US oil consumption in the short term because it slashes $100 million from federal programs promoting conservation and falls short of the commitment in last year's energy bill to make vast new investments in renewable and emerging technologies, like hydrogen fuel and solar power.

Despite Bush's ambitious goal of cutting Middle East oil imports by 75 percent within 20 years -- outlined in his State of the Union address a week ago -- the president's budget calls for an 18 percent cut in programs aimed at reducing energy consumption, like financial aid to help needy families better insulate their homes and research to make cars use fuel more efficiently.

Critics say the budget sends a mixed message on energy policy: The president wants to invest in renewable energy but would spend less on it than he promised in the energy bill he signed and would scale down efficiency programs that would more quickly reduce the nation's demand for oil.

Not only is he making cuts in programs that would help him achieve his goal of getting us off of middle eastern oil if he were serious (essentially borrowing from one hand to put it back into energy policy with the other hand), but he won't even keep the commitments that he made when he signed legislation passed last year!

Folks, don't be depressed about this. We know (or should know by now) better than to think that George W. Bush would ever do anything that would cut into the profits of the oil industry. But what it shows is this: We are winning the battle of ideas, especially on energy. So much so that a Republican President, in his biggest prime time speech of the year, has to sound like a Democrat just to get ratings points, even when he knows that he isn't really going to do much about it.

1 comment:

dorsano said...

He does $250 million in there for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

After months of speculation that the White House was considering a nuclear waste policy change, the ambitious program not only aims to develop technology to reprocess waste safely but pushes for more nuclear power worldwide and to find ways for new reactors to produce energy from reprocessed nuclear fuel.