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April 27, 2005

New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

So the new Bush energy plan (not, to be clear, the atrocious energy bill). It's not really bad, just kinda lame. I mean, yes, we do need to break through the impasses that are keeping nuclear energy plants and liquid natural gas terminals from being built. And the hybrid car subsidy is certainly a good thing. Neither am I really against constructing a few more refineries. But for a president who prides himself on bold strokes and towering ambition, this is kid's stuff. This is pecking your date on the cheek before drinking a warm glass of milk and going to bed. This ain't, in other words, shit.

The affordable oil's gonna run out, kids. Whether it's now or later, it's riding into the sunset as we speak. Bush says:

"Over the past decade, our energy consumption has increased by more than 12 percent, while our domestic production has increased by less than one-half of 1 percent," he added. "It's now time to fix it."

But even that overstates our abilities, Our production, after all, doesn't feed all our demand, we import vast amounts of energy. So 1% of demand growth is far larger than 1% of production growth -- so we're doing even worse than that quote lets on. Which is why it's so disappointing that, aside from building more nuclear plants and more LNG terminals (which really doesn't matter too much, as we're peppering Baja California with them anyway), Bush's plan does nothing to lessen our dependence on oil. Even the hybrid credit is minor, particularly when you consider the atrocious write-off businesses get for gas guzzlers when they claim them for professional use. Savings on a Porsche SUV top $33,000! Try getting that on your Honda Insight

There's nothing in Bush's speech about conservation, nothing about a major initiative to fund R&D, nothing about the need for Americans to try and cut their usage of gasoline, nothing, in fact, that'll have any long-term impact on the situation. What we have is a politician offering a pro forma response to a high gasoline prices, nothing more. There's no vision, long-term planning, or even new ideas in this proposal, and so it contains nothing to get excited over.

I've said it before, but liberals should be truly grateful -- from a political standpoint -- that Bush isn't a better politician. Where he smart, he'd schedule a major speech, announce that he's letting some of his tax cuts lapse and would be pouring the billions in savings into weaning us off foreign oil and pushing our economy towards a more sustainable perch. Massive subsidies for hybrids, financial assistance so Detroit can quickly develop hyper fuel-efficient vehicles, a well-funded R&D program, financial incentives for conservation, subsidies for renewables (like wind and solar), and so forth. If he did that, his numbers would shoot through the roof. As it is, he'll muddle along, with his deficiency in the vision department screwing not only the country, but himself.

April 27, 2005 in Energy | Permalink

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» Bush and Energy from CommonSenseDesk
Our president has announced his new energy plan. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 10:49:52 AM

» Energy Plan Round-Up from sustainablog
As you might imagine, the Sustainable and political blogospheres are abuzz over Dubya's speech on energy policy yesterday. While watching CNN for a few minutes yesterday, I hear Lou Dobbs call it "bold." I actually kind of like Lou, but "bold?" Fortu... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 10:59:08 AM

Comments

Forget hybrid cars. They're deathtraps for wreckers and hopelessly complex. Forget nuclear too, are you nuts?!? This is all snowballing to hell faster than any good wishes can stop. The reality of the non-sustainability of "our" lifestyle will assert itself before any so-called progressive thinking has an ameliorative effect. A tiny minority of the world simply can't go on using most of the resources forever. We aren't Jesus. We can't make loaves and fishes out of nothing.

Learn to grow food and find your own clean water. I'm serious.

Posted by: John H. Farr | Apr 27, 2005 5:54:54 PM

And no, I'm not there yet either. But I have a plan.

Posted by: John H. Farr | Apr 27, 2005 5:56:45 PM

Weaning is off oil will only happen when it costs too much to buy.

Posted by: Ugh | Apr 27, 2005 6:17:15 PM

"is" should be "us"

Posted by: Ugh | Apr 27, 2005 6:31:47 PM

Why would anyone believe military bases have lots of oil? Why do we have the government paying to explore these bases? Save the taxpayer dollars and SELL these bases to the highest bidder in the private sector. Proceeds directly to the Soc. Sec. Trust Fund. And if the private sector thinks there is oil there, fine. If not, they'll build houses or factories for young workers. And I'm the liberal? What in blazes is Bush - a Communist?

Posted by: pgl | Apr 27, 2005 6:52:06 PM

Heh -- PGL, I think they want to build refineries on military bases, not drill for crude. It's tough to get the permits and space to build refineries, and closed bases may offer a solution.

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 27, 2005 8:24:32 PM

Hybrids are a good idea, and no less safe than similar sized straight gas engines. Biodiesel is a much better idea, because it puts today's carbon back in the air, rather than ancient carbon from oil, that is, there is no net gain of greenhouse gasses. And, we can always grow more oilseeds on the land we're paying farmers not to plant.

Nuclear? oh please. An industry that can only exist if excused from liability, and which need not account for the costs of decommissioning plants or disposing of waste simply should not exist.

Posted by: Rob | Apr 27, 2005 10:48:18 PM

Ezra, I agree with your comments, except on the issue of new refineries on old military bases. It will take years to build the proposed new refineries. By that time we will have substantially less oil available to refine than we do today. It makes no sense to build refineries if there is insufficient crude for them to refine.

Posted by: wbd | Apr 27, 2005 11:11:41 PM

I'm afraid I can't agree with most of your political comments either. Only wonky left-coast tree-huggers want any of this hi-tech renewable solar hybrid whatever. Who's gonna buy any of that stuff? They want cheap gas for their GMs and their F150s. And they're not really interested in giving up a dime of tax cuts for some California tree-hugger to buy a solar hybrid whatsis.

And perhaps even more importantly, George Bush is not nearly as interested in being popular among a mushy paleo-tech middle as he is in rewarding his constituents, very important indeed among whom is the oil industry. These people do spoils system politics, and by those standards, things are going just fine: their buddies are getting richer than anybody thought they would, and the problems won't come home to roost until Bush is safely out of office.

So I agree we don't have to worry about him suddenly going green on us. But not because he's dumb...

Posted by: bleh | Apr 27, 2005 11:26:09 PM

Eh -- energy reform is actually pretty damn popular, and folks don't much like the idea of being dependent on foreign oil and hostage to huge price shocks.Not to mention that big visions, generally speaking, are popular. Bush's base would be happy with it and middle-to-left folks would be as well. It'd be a smart move by an administration looking ever more extreme and ever less successful.

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 27, 2005 11:53:33 PM

The only one here who has a clue is John Farr. We don't need more refineries in this country, we can get stuff refined elsewhere and bring it in as gasoline, etc. We've been doing that for decades. So that's a smokescreen. There is no solution that will allow us to continue our present lifestyle. Cheap energy is over. Peak oil is here. All renewables are way too weenie. Preparing for the crash is the only thing left to do.

Posted by: Dave | Apr 30, 2005 10:34:13 PM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 7:16:34 AM

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