Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bush Acknowledeges Dependence on Oil

President Bush stopped at the Renewable Fuels Conference in St. Louis and gave a speech on energy policy. He now finally admits that the United States has too great of a dependence on oil and that developing new sources - foreign or domestic - will not be enough to solve the problem. He argued that Americans have been too complacent about developing renewable energy sources; in reality his own administration has repeatedly rejected proposals to develop alternative energy sources and conserve nonrenewable fuels. It looks like he is finally coming around to proposing some ideas himself.

Bush trumpeted solutions to future U.S. energy needs that included "solar roofs that will enable the American family to be able to generate their own electricity" and hybrid cars that will run the first 40 miles on electricity and won't "look like a golf cart."

We do have hybrids, and while they may not get that kind of mileage, they certainly do not look like golf carts.

"I believe wind power has got the opportunity to help," Bush said. "All we need is to put a couple of windmills right there in Washington, D.C., and we'll be less dependent on foreign sources of energy," he said to laughter from the audience.

Or put one in front of his speaking podium.

Bush promoted continued use of tax credits to encourage alternative energy sources, increased drilling for oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico and expansion of nuclear power generation.

"Nuclear power is renewable, and there are no greenhouse gases associated with nuclear power," he said. "One of the problems we've had is that nobody wants to build any plants. They're afraid of the cost of regulation and the litigious nature that surrounds the construction of nuclear power plants."
Surrounded by "litigious nature"? Class-action suits by squirrels? Seriously, though, nuclear power does have questions about its long-term safety and the transport and disposal of radioactive waste. Local resistance to building new reactors is understandable, and deregulation is not the answer.
At the end of the speech, Bush told his audience he had to leave to "get my limousine filled up by hydrogen."
Actually he probably arrived there and departed for Chicago aboard Air Force One. Air travel uses more fuel and causes more greenhouse gas pollution per passenger than any other common form of transport.

I would much prefer to hear the president making a speech like the one above than some of the other things his administration has been pushing. Unfortunately, Bush still has ground to make up before he and his administration become credible on energy policy. For example, are they renouncing the efforts to drill in Arctic NWR? Does he pledge to regulate emissions from coal-fired plants to a healthy level? What about car and truck fuel mileage - will these standards be raised? His energy policies have done more than good in the short term.