Bush's Energy Plan - What do you think?

Today, Bush outlined his energy policy.

Here’s a summary

Good? Bad?

Neither. Not even worthy of being dignified with the name of “plan.” In the long run, our fossil-fuel-dependent economy is not sustainable and extraordinarily vulnerable (any sustained interruption in the supply of imported oil would bring our national economy to a grinding, screeching halt). And Bush the Oilman is proposing absolutely nothing to significantly address that problem. If he proposed a comprehensive and draconian plan of halting the manufacture of all vehicles but fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius (as a half-assed, short-term stopgap measure), and a well-funded national program to develop practical hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles much more rapidly than market forces can be relied upon to give them to us (again, as a half-assed, short-term stopgap measure), and a vigorous national program of mass-transit construction, transit-oriented residential redevelopment and suburban demolition/reconstruction, that would be something. What he’s giving us is nothing.

Let’s be serious here. Your proposal is a radical re-ordering of our society, that would take decades, or even generations, to accomplish. It’s also contrary to what the vast majority of Americans choose-- a decentralized, suburban lifestyle. I can’t remember exactly which thread this was, but you recently posted how necessary it was in politics to consider the practical over the ideal. Can you honestly say that the plan you outlined is practical in any political sense?

Sam: Any idea if Bush is offering some analysis of what his plan will accomplish? Something along the lines of taking us from X% dependency on imported oil to X-e% dependency?

There’s been a couple of CYA moves from the White House in the last few days regarding energy. Witness the recent sweaty man-holding with Prince-Saud-whatever. And now a sudden New! Energy! Policy! The cynical observer might think that WH wants to appear engaged just to appear engaged. Luckily, I’m not cynical.

Bits & pieces:

  • Refineries, yes we need more. Some creative ideas are good. I don’t know if the ex-MB idea is a good one, but it doesn’t seem like a bad one. Is this really a new idea?

  • Nuclear “risk insurance”: not enough detail. I support nuclear power with plans for waste disposal. I don’t support gutting liability wholesale. Show me the proposal.

  • LNG: not enough info. Are we discouraging NIMBYism or doing radical eminent domain from a federal level. I’d support the former with limits, I don’t support the latter – the feds can take my coastline/harbor/whatever from my cold dead hands. My local municipality or county, we’ll talk. OK, we’ll argue. But didn’t I read that the Bush party wanted smaller government & states rights? Maybe I misunderstood.

  • $4k tax credit for diesel/hybrid. Sounds fantastic, but I wonder if it’s necessary with gas prices in the stratosphere and hybrid sales soaring. Why subsidize a business that’s skyrocketing?

I read an article about this in my local paper today, and I have to say that there just isn’t enough detail to figure out if this good or bad. I wonder if it’s poor reporting or just poor communication on the WH’s part.

A plan needs to start with a problem statement, and then move on to a goal that the plan is expected to accomplish. I haven’t seen either so far. Next, develop the plan, which should consist of strategies and tactics in support of the goal. I guess we can see the tactics in what has been released so far. Finally, decide on a metric (or set of metrics) to determine whether the tactics are meeting the goal(s). Didn’t see that in any of the press releases.

So, this looks like a series of reactions to public pressure about gas prices. The biggest issue seems to be refinery capcacity:

But it’s unclear that lack of locations for new refineries is the only problem, and if Bush’s military base proposal will help:

How much of that $3B cost is due to excessive regulations? And of course, “excessive” is the eye of the beholder, but perhaps there is room to reduce this cost by scrutinizing the approval process. At any rate, getting the government more in cahoots with oil companies (goliath A scratching the back of goliath B and vice versa) sounds like a bad idea to me-- just too much opportunity for corruption.

I also agree that subsidizing hybrids thru tax incentives is a waste of time/money. There is a huge waiting list for the cars, so demand is not the problem right now, supply is the problem.

Looking into better uses for nuclear power is probably a good idea, but IIRC, elecrticity generation in the US represents only a tiny fraction of our petrolem consumption. (Gratuitous “24” reference: Besides, that’s exactly what Marwan wants: more targets!)

So, in summary I say: Meh. Sound a fury signifying nothing. More political bluster than real action.

All of the proposals sound reasonable to me, although I’d like more details. The nuclear regulatory insurance thing in particular seems like it doesn’t go far enough–I’d like to see a vastly expanded nuclear power program.

Anyone have any links to a more detailed summary? Although not as detailed as the actual bill…

Yes, but we may need that extra generating capacity if/when we begin to make a switch to hydrogen-powered cars. (We’ll need the extra electricity to separate the hydrogen.)

Not all of society, just our transportation infrastructure and settlement patterns. Of course it will take decades. Soonest begun is soonest done.

Just because we want it doesn’t mean we can have it. In the long run, material resources cannot sustain it. From The City in Mind by James Howard Kunstler (New York: The Free Press, 2001), – the chapter on Atlanta, pp. 73-75:

Soonest begun is soonest done. First some prominent pols and commentators have to start talking along these lines, before the idea has any hope of catching on. “Americans can be relied upon to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.” The Bush energy “plan,” OTOH, does nothing along these lines. It is based on, and designed to perpetuate, the unquestioned assumption that it will be possible for us to continue to live indefinitely the way we’re living now. It might blind the country to the real problem until it’s too late to do anything to fix it.

I regret some of my liberal friends appear to be darkly suspicious of the timing of the New! Improved! energy policy. Clearly, these ideas have been studied with great care for many, many months and the studies have been concluded only recently. In is merely coincidental that all these studies have born fruit at precisely the same moment in time. Yes. Quite. That accounts for the exacting detail of these proposals, that every nuance has been carefully vetted. Uh-huh.

I can only rest assured that the Republican leadership have carefully consulted those experts as are available, to ensure that this plan does no violence to the financial stability of major corporations, upon whom depend so many widows and orphans, pension funds, and the vigorous entreprenuerial spirit so crucial to our well-being.

The proposal about closed bases for refineries may have some merit. In the past, refineries have tended to be located in those areas of the country most needful of economic stimulation, places populated by persons with relatively little economic, hence political, power. Odessa, but not Midland. Next to Juan Garcia’s house, not next to Ken Lay’s house.

We are assured that there are very good reasons why this is so, reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that refineries stink. And poison. But no sacrifice is too great for other people to make, when it comes to energy self-sufficiency. I can’t help but suspect that if one is built in greater metropolitan Crawford, GeeDubya might begin to curtail his brush-clearing hobby.

I have, over the years, somewhat modified my policy regarding nuclear power. Just a soon as someone comes up with a solid plan for ridding ourselves of the nasty crap it produces, I likely will sign on. Build it next to the refinery. In Crawford. Hell, can’t do nothing to the Brazos ain’t already been done.

Can you tell me exactly how the Democratic position differs from the Republicans?

Any chance of the words “unnecessary” or “efficiency” cropping up anywhere?

The difference is that the Republicans have a position.

I think a better plan would be to offer tax incentives to companies that made telecommuting available to employees. Now, this would not be possible for many companies; but telecommuting is an under-utilised option. I tried to get permission to telecommute from a previous job. Account Executives could do it, but most people couldn’t. Our computer was (well, it still is) in Texas. We were in SoCal. We were virtually telecommuting anyway, except that everyone had to travel to the building. Why? Well, paper reports was one reason.

I got permission to stop receiving paper reports. When I showed that reports could be viewed online, I got permission to end the paper reports going to the people who reported to me on my team. When they demonstrated it was a viable plan, the whole department ‘went paperless’. Had we been paying for each line printed, it would have saved the department $2 million per year. Due to our contract with Xerox, it ‘only’ saved $20,000/year. But that’s $20,000 per year every year, and the reduced number of lines being printed could be used to negotiate the contract when it came up again to save even more.

When I started working there, the printer was in the basement of the building. The printer operators would sort it into departments, and the mail guy would bring it upstairs a couple of times per day. When it got to the department, someone would have to sort two or three or more boxes full of paper and distribute it to the recipients. Very time-consuming. When the printer moved to another city 30 miles away, the output would have do be driven over twice a day.

In any case, eliminating the paper output meant that there really wasn’t any reason to be in a central location. The main objection to telecommuting was that we’d lose the ‘office synergy’ where ideas are exchanged ‘around the water cooler’. Possibly valid, but we communicated quite freely by e-mail. What about staff meetings? That’s why we had teleconferencing in every meeting room! So most of the staff could have successfully telecommuted if the company was behind it.

What would large-scale telecommuting do?
[ul][li]Lower fuel expenditures by employees significantly[/li][li]Lower vehicle maintenance costs for employees;[/li][li]Reduce the amount of fuel being burned, thus slightly reducing the amount of fuel we need to import;[/li][li]Reduce the amount of pollutants going into our atmosphere and waters;[/li][li]Reduce traffic congestion, which would reduce fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and atmospheric and environmental pollution overall. This is because those people who could not telecommute would not sit idling on the freeway burning fuel. The population at large would benefit by gaining a little more time in their days.;[/li][li]Reduce the need for expensive office space, saving the companies an enormous amount of money per year in rental/building/maintenance costs;[/li][li]Create the need for more robust communications infrastructures, which would increase employment by the providors of same and benefit society at large by providing better communications for everyone.[/ul][/li]So telecommuting would be good for employees, good for businesses, good for the environment, good for our fuel reserves, and good for society. What about the down-sides? For one thing, many people are not capable of working independently. There are still a lot of slackers, and the corporate mentality of ‘If we can’t see you, you’re not working’ really does apply in some cases. My reply to that is that productivity is easily tracked. In my office, we had to meet certain deadlines in order to meet our goals. If the work was not done, people would know. So the answer seems simple: If a person is slacking, either make them do their work under supervision, or find someone who can get the work done.

Another thing is that many or most businesses already have the office space to support x-number of employees. If the money is spent, why should they need to allow telecommuting? This is where the tax incentives come in. American businesses tend not to do anything unless it helps the bottom line. If the incentives are significant enough, the companies can sell buildings they own or let them out to other companies. Thus they would get the tax incentives, recoup some of the money they spend on buildings they own, and/or save the continuing cost of leasing space. I believe (though I have no proof) that the taxes being paid on increased profits would be less than the expenditures on maintaining office space. Of course companies could give employees better benefits, which would reduce their tax burden. :wink:

Again: Not everyone can telecommute. But a National Telecommuting Plan that significantly reduced the number of vehicles on the roads would save an enormous amount of fuel even for those who must drive to their workplaces.

Exactly.

So let’s just discuss the merits of the plan not start a partisan hijack. :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, I think gay marriage is a more tenable political topic than: you folks need to move back to the cities, give up your cars and ride the trains. So I just don’t understand your position on social values as a political dead end vs restructuring society. Especially when the restructuring, if it’s the right thing to do, can taken care of by market forces already in place. We’re not going to just suddenly run out of oil one day. We’ll make a gradual transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources, and people will adjust their lifestyles accordingly.

Nope. Your correspondent from the conservative wing of the extreme left hastens to advise that he prefers Democrats because they are marginally less corrupted by corporate moolah. I vote for the whore with less STD’s and running sores, and hope for better days. Lately, have seen some reason in support of that hope. Not so much that the Dumbocrats have grown more spine, but that the Forces of Darkness are over-reaching themselves.

I think that giving FERC complete control over LNG terminal locations is a poor policy. Surely they should have veto power over poor locations but community input, exercised through local governments, should be controlling.

I understand there’s a NIMBY component to these things which has to be overcome, but FERC has come up with some hare-brained ideas like the Providence, RI terminal. If it turns out that community opposition forces the regasification facilities offshore, so be it.

Well, reading the speech itself, I think some of it is in there. I got much more from reading that than any of the summaries. I’m no Bush fan – I’m posting this just 'cuz it doesn’t make much sense to debate with only part of what’s been put forward.

Problem: “…we need to address a major problem facing our country – and that is our nation’s growing dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

Solution: “Technology is allowing us to better use our existing energy resources. And in the years ahead, technology will allow us to create entirely new sources of energy in ways earlier generations could never dream.” He also includes a bit about conservation and encouraging other nations to take advantage of advances.

Strategies/tactics (all items direct quotes except what is italicized):
[list=a]
[li]Existing resources:[/li][ol]
[li]Nuclear power is one of the safest, cleanest sources of power in the world, and we need more of it here in America…That’s why, three years ago, my administration launched the Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative. This is a seven-year, $1.1 billion effort by government and industry to start building new nuclear power plants by the end of this decade. One of the greatest obstacles we face to building new plants is regulatory uncertainty which discourages new plant construction…I’ve asked the Department of Energy to work on changes to existing law that will reduce uncertainty in the nuclear plant licensing process, and also provide federal risk insurance that will protect those building the first four new nuclear plants against delays that are beyond their control.[/li][li] A secure energy future for America also means building and expanding American oil refineries… To encourage the expansion of existing facilities, the EPA is simplifying rules and regulations. I will direct federal agencies to work with states to encourage the building of new refineries – on closed military facilities, for example – and to simplify the permitting process for such construction.[/li][li] Advances in technology will also allow us to open up new areas to environmentally responsible exploration for oil and natural gas, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge…Developing this tiny section of ANWR could eventually yield up to a million barrels of oil per day.[/li][li] Technology is also helping us to get at reserves of natural gas that cannot be reached – easily reached by pipelines…federal agencies must expedite the review of the 32 proposed new projects that will either expand or build new liquefied natural gas terminals.[/li][li]America as enough coal to last for 250 years. But coal presents an environmental challenge. To make cleaner use of this resource, I have asked Congress for more than $2 billion over 10 years for my coal research initiative.[/li][/ol]
[li]New resources:[/li][ol]
[li][M]y administration…already dedicated $1.2 billion over five years to this effort to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells…has also launched a Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, an effort to develop advanced nuclear technologies that can produce hydrogen fuels for cars and trucks. My budgets have dedicated $35 million over the past three years and will continue this effort.[/li][li]This proposal would require fuel producers to include a certain percentage of ethanol and biodiesel in their fuel and would increase the amount of these renewables in our nation’s fuel supply.[/li][li] Technology can also help us tap into a vital source that flows around us all the time and that is wind. That’s why I’ve asked Congress to provide $1.9 billion over 10 years for tax incentives for renewable energy technologies like wind, as well as residential solar heating systems and energy produced from landfill gas and biomass.[/li][/ol]
[li]Conservation:[/li][ol]
[li]Some examples (e.g., solar panels, hybrid cars), but no plan[/li][li]My administration has issued new rules that will remove more than 90 percent of the sulfur in diesel fuel by 2010…We’ve proposed $2.5 billion over 10 years in tax credits that will encourage consumers to buy energy-efficient hybrid cars and trucks, and we need to expand these incentives to include clean diesel vehicles, as well.[/li][li]New technologies such as superconducting power lines can help us bring our electrical grid into the 21st century…It’s time for America to build a modern electricity grid.[/li][/ol]
[li]Other nations:[/li][ol]
[li]Essentially, it comes down to this: I’m going to work with developed nations, our friends and allies to help developing nations, countries like China and India to develop and deploy clean energy technology.[/li][/ol]
[/list]
No real metrics for deciding if any of the above are working, but I expect that from a policy (rather than a scientific proposal) statement. I hope the above provides some fodder for discussion…

Nonsense. There is no show-stopper reason why any of these (with the obvious exception of nuclear, except as an ultimate energy source behind one of the other options) can’t replace gasoline for vehicular use. The prototypes for several of them exist – are we supposed to believe this author rather than our own lying eyes?

Hell, the religious-reich scare scenario of allowing people to marry their sister, their brother, and their cocker spaniel is more politically tenable than forcing people to move back to the urban anthill.