Bush's energy plan.
May 17, 2001 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Bush's energy plan. We knew it was coming. Arguing the United States "faces the most serious energy shortage since the oil embargoes of the 1970's," Bush proposes the expansion of drilling, a new commitment to nuclear power, and a review of vehicle mileage standards. If you really want to dig--er, I mean drill--into it, the proposal is available on the White House website.
posted by mrbula (36 comments total)
Hmmm? And I wonder what parts of the plan he?ll drop his commitment to first. They wouldn?t be the mileage standards, would they?

While I?m inherently distrustful of anything coming out of this administration, I have to agree with some of it. The lifting of the ban on the reprocessing of nuclear waste is long overdue, as is the review of mileage standards (assuming, hypothetically, that standards would be raised). I?m not big on the new drilling or shortening of power plant emission reviews, though.
posted by mrbula at 11:24 AM on May 17, 2001

As a general Bush supporter, I should be very worried that according to the WH website, the beginning of the report is not a foreword, but a "forward."

When my pedantic side retreats a little, I'll read this.
posted by Dreama at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2001

I disagree with the Administration that we're in a crisis (except in California, which is a mess entirely of their own creation). The supply is starting to get a bit tight, and we do need to start doing some serious planning for the future, but it's not a crisis.

Anyway, I'm very happy to finally see a White House that's willing to admit the truth: That conservation alone will not suffice, period. Only conservation combined with the rational expansion of supply will work.
posted by aaron at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2001

bush has been well schooled by corporate advertisers. first, declare a problem (imply sadness and difficulty), second sell your solution (imply success and happiness).

as an example, an ad for acne products. troubled teen cannot get a date, etc. teen discovers product, life is great, dates hot chick, etc.

bush seems to be doing the same, declaring a "crisis" that can miraculously be "solved" by expanding drilling in pristine wilderness.

what is not said (by bush or by most advertisers) is that there is seldom only one solution. we don't really HAVE to drill. this then uses the first point (the "energy crisis") to quell any doubters and free thinkers in the crowd.

i for one, distrust this line of thinking.
posted by kzam at 11:39 AM on May 17, 2001

I am so glad you posted that. One of the mailing lists I'm on had a recent thread about Bush and the energy crisis. (There's a surprise). Anyway, one of the respondents couldn't believe that Dubya suggested the tax cut needed to be passed right away so Americans could use the money to pay for rising power costs in this "energy crisis":
"Give people more of their own money so they can meet their bills," Bush said. "Give people money in order to be able to deal with this [fuel price] situation. If I had my way, I'd have it in place tomorrow."
What the HELL is he talking about?

<rant emotion="bitter" length="long" detail="verbose">

The only reason energy prices are so high is because the unregulated producers of said energy have marked up the price almost 1900% during peak usage times [1] and the only reason there is an energy shortage is because the utilities cannot afford to purchase as much energy from said producers due to this unregulated price gouging...hence, there is no energy shortage and both Dubya and Cheney (the latter of whom declared $36M[2] on last year's taxes, most of which came from his exercising of stock options from Halliburton Co a *surprise* energy company that boasts it helped stimulate the most prolific producing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico) have no plans to step in and intervene with the energy companies. Hey, Bush and Cheney are oil men and many of the key people involved in the raping of California with regards to power are the very people who made contributions and helped get them elected.

The point? Of course they'd recommend we use our tax cuts towards paying increased energy costs. Of course Cheney would make the absolute ridiculous claim that "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy" [3] while Bush is running around trying to use eminent domain[4] at the Federal level to put up as many power lines as he can. They're primary supporters are making loads of money! What's even funnier is that we have no shortage of energy [5] and even the Federal government's own scientists have produced research [6] at odds with the Bush administration.

It's just something Cheney and Bush are pushing, I'm guessing, because since two oilmen hold the top two positions in the country, they want to do everything they can to give the environmental movement the finger, pay back all their supporters, destroy the environment in as many ways as possible that they previously weren't allowed to, and pave the way for good jobs at energy companies before they are kicked out of office and the Democrats are brought back in to clean things up.


[1] According to a June 2000 article from SJM, prices were spiking as high as $750 per megawatt hour until the ISO board lowered the cap to $500. "Normally, the price of a megawatt hour -- which is enough to power 1,000 homes for an hour -- ranges between $25 and $40.

[2] According to an April 14th AP article, "Vice President Dick Cheney took in $36 million, according to income-tax documents released Friday." ... "Most of Cheney's income came when he exercised stock options and sold stock in Halliburton Co., the Dallas-based energy services firm he headed until late in the presidential campaign. The vice president received $4.3 million in deferred compensation and bonuses. He reported $806,332 in salary and $823,509 in capital gains." ... "Cheney's tax total put him in the rarified realm of the top 39.6 percent tax bracket, which Bush wants to eventually reduce to 33 percent." ... "Using the small standard deduction of $7,350, the calculator estimates Cheney's tax cut under the Bush plan at more than $2.3 million, a 16.1 percent cut. "

[3] Source for quote and hideous pro-resource consumption rhetoric.

[4] "'We need more electricity wires carrying product across the country,' the president said Tuesday night at a speech to the Electronic Industries Alliance in Washington. One of the ways Bush intends to achieve that goal is by asking Congress to pass legislation that substantially expands the government's eminent domain authority."

[5] Forbes says there is no energy crisis and that not even the whole state of California is effected - LA has it's own municipal power service. Oil and Natural Gas reserves are at an all-time high.

[6] "Most of the savings came from installing geothermal heat pumps, an efficient home-heating and cooling system that circulates fluids through underground coils but otherwise uses conventional technologies." ... "The heat pumps, though still something of a novelty, are proven and save so much money that President Bush installed a system at his new ranch home in Crawford, Texas. Cheney's official home, the Naval Observatory in Washington, also uses geothermal heat pumps to cut down on its energy bill." This article has many more reports from Federal scientists showing cost-effective conservation methods.
posted by bkdelong at 11:47 AM on May 17, 2001

Jimmy Carter's retort to Bush makes the same point that Forbes did: the cost of gas is 41% lower than it was in 1980. There's no supply problem. As far as using my tax cut to pay for costly gasoline: since Exxon etc. are some of Bush's biggest contributors, why not just hand it straight over to the GOP?
posted by Gilbert at 11:52 AM on May 17, 2001

OK, a bit long, I know. I was pissed when I found out the only "power crisis" was that the generating companies were charging $150 - $250 per megawatt hour instead of the usual $25-$40.

Anyway, further research has lead to my findings that the current caps include a $250 per mw/h hard cap (as in, no! No higher!) and a soft cap (i.e. we'll look at it but you really need to convince us) of $150 per mw/h (megawatt hour).

However there seems to be a pissing match between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California ISO but I haven't translated all that yet.
posted by bkdelong at 11:55 AM on May 17, 2001

jimmy carter calls it misinformation and scare tactics (and casualities), but he agrees with "both energy conservation and the increased production of oil, gas, coal and solar energy." (via ghost rocket :)
posted by kliuless at 11:56 AM on May 17, 2001

oh oops, the posts are coming fast.
posted by kliuless at 12:02 PM on May 17, 2001

I have what I hope is a serious, reasonable question:

How is increased exploration and production of a non-renewable resource a long term solution? I mean, I know there is the 'nuclear' answer, but then the question becomes " how is increased production of incredibly dangerous materials a long range solution?"
posted by das_2099 at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2001

das, as far as nuclear goes, it wouldn't necessarily be increased production of dangerous materials. From my understanding, if anything, it would be taking already dangerous materials and getting as much use out of them as possible before burrying them.
posted by mrbula at 12:11 PM on May 17, 2001

" Anyway, I'm very happy to finally see a White House that's willing to admit the truth: That conservation alone will not suffice, period. Only conservation combined with the rational expansion of supply will work."

Aaron, before you go off advocating your favorite usurper and giving credit where it is not due, I recommend you read your history. Jimmy Carter pointed it out very well in his WP editorial today. To simplify, your statement is WRONG.
posted by nofundy at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2001

it would be taking already dangerous materials and getting as much use out of them as possible before burrying them.

But that's the point....you can only bury so much. Then you start dumping in the seas and possibly even pollute space. We need renewable solutions of energy like the sun, hydrogen, biomass, and hydroelectric.....the only reason Cheney doesn't consider that a viable solution at the present is because they don't plan on allocating the resources to make it a viable, primary source of energy.
posted by bkdelong at 12:24 PM on May 17, 2001

das: proven reserves have gone up a lot since the 70s. this atlantic article is pretty good at explaining why. i don't think it's sustainable, but then i don't think it needs to be. alternative fuels are on the horizon (and being acknowledged by big oil and auto -- who're supposedly working on a "hydrogen infrastrucutre"). in the meantime there's greater fuel efficiency (microturbines and hybrid vehicles and such).
posted by kliuless at 12:25 PM on May 17, 2001

While we're at it let's not forget who killed a very lucid energy policy as one of his first official acts as President.

I believe Reagan said something like "We don't need an energy policy, we'll let the free market handle it."

The energy company interests got to keep the things they liked about Carter's energy policy and the other parts were immediately eliminated.

Does this new energy policy mean President Dick and Smirk will be reading energy policy statements from the same page now?
posted by nofundy at 12:25 PM on May 17, 2001

das_2099: they are talking about using breeder reactors which will reuse the spent materials.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:25 PM on May 17, 2001

Shakedown, plain and simple. "Pass my 'tax cut' so that you can use your money with my oil buddies". Sick.
posted by owillis at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2001

bkdelong, I'm mainly talking about waste that already exists. We might as well use it up as much as we can.
posted by mrbula at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2001

bkdelong, I'm mainly talking about waste that already exists. We might as well use it up as much as we can.

Ah....I agree with you there. INEL seems to be looking at Breeder Reactors but they've restructured their site.
posted by bkdelong at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2001

even pollute space

yeah, got to be careful. you may fill up the solar system with all that toxic waste. then how will the planets orbit?
posted by fuzzygeek at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2001

I was listening to NPR on the way to work, when they cut over to George Bush, who was peddling his policy on energy. He was talking about drilling for oil in Alaskan national parks... again. He mentioned 600,000 barrels of oil a year... and said "How big a difference is 600,000 barrels of oil? That's almost exactly what we import from Saddam Hussein's Iraq every year." In other words, he's implying that we are being blackmailed by our need for oil into importing from Iraq.

Truth is, we still have an oil embargo slapped on Iraq that most of the world's nations oppose. Iraq is allowed to sell a very limited amount of oil every year, with the funds distributed under the U.N. "oil-for-food" program. The oil money that Bush seems to have a problem with is absolutely essential for Iraq to feed its people.

On October 6th, 1998, Denis Halliday, the United Nations coordinator of the oil for food program in Iraq, denounced the ongoing trade sanctions as violating the UN charter and UN conventions on human rights and killing 5,000 to 6,000 Iraqi children every month due to hunger, the breakdown of water and sanitation, inadequate diet, lack of proper medicine, etc. "There is an awful incompatibility here, which I can't quite deal with myself. I just note that I feel extremely uncomfortable flying the UN flag, being part of the UN system here." ... "It is unnecessary and unacceptable to allow this human tragedy to continue."
The U.S. government have taken an Arabic country that was previously quite modern, and reduced it to abject poverty, thereby increasing the pull that Islamic fundamentalism has on the Iraqi people.

And still, whenever a U.S. president has a problem, they drag out Iraq and flog it like an old mule. Why?! Because Iraq is a threat?! No. It's because it is a popular thing to do that obscures the real issue in the Middle East... the fact that the U.S. is supporting Israel, politically, militarily, and economically... and is attempting to facilitate an Israeli landgrab of Palestinian territory, in direct violation of numerous UN and international treaties the U.S. has been a party to, including UN treaties on human rights. Read this article for details.

The U.S. is essentially using its role as the world's most powerful country to try to force the Palestinians into signing away the majority of the lands granted to them by UN Resolution 181. Part II of the document clearly states the boundaries for an Arab state... unfortunately, much of that is now Israeli land.

Point of fact--drilling for oil in the ANWR won't result in any oil pumped for nearly 10 years. If Bush really wanted to lower the price of oil, thereby reducing the cost of energy, one simple solution comes to mind--let Iraq sell theirs.
posted by markkraft at 1:12 PM on May 17, 2001

The Democratic National Committee has opened a website response to the Bush plan: GrandOldPetroleum.com
posted by dnash at 1:47 PM on May 17, 2001

Sigh...I remember Election Night last year. A friend of mine and environmentalist from Florida was crying when she heard what happened. She apologized to everyone for what her state had done.
posted by eoligarry at 3:21 PM on May 17, 2001

Today's SUV vs. The Vandals row had a bit about how much energy (presumably per capita) American's use when compared to Europeans and, in turn, the developing world. I won't repeat the details, but as I sit at my desk in Paris and think about life in France versus the US I can't help but wonder why a serious look at reducing consumption would not solve America's energy woes for some time to come. (Admittedly, such actions would likely put the world economy in the tank. Maybe that is the real problem.)

Some examples:

My home here is about 1/2 the volume of my last home in the US and by most measures more comfortable. (I'm an architect so measuring is my thing.) Our refrigerator in France is also half the size.

The typical building is not air-conditioned to the point where your nose feels cold. And you know what--you get used to it.

In the communal hallways of our building, the lights are on a timer. They'll stay on after you hit the switch and then go off. Amazing! (Worried about safety?--motion detectors are better--I put one in our basement storage space which shuts off automatically.)

There's so much to do that is stupidly easy.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:25 PM on May 17, 2001

Sigh...I remember Election Night last year. A friend of mine and environmentalist from Florida was crying when she heard what happened. She apologized to everyone for what her state had done.

"And the Paul Begala award for the day goes to ..." Oh, thank you for this post. It made me laugh out loud.

To simplify, your statement is WRONG.

The most energy conservationist state in the union is California. At the same time, the most energy-fucked state in the union is California. Why? Because their plan was 100% conversation, 0% expansion of supply. QED.
posted by aaron at 5:39 PM on May 17, 2001

conversation = conSERVation. bleh.
posted by aaron at 5:40 PM on May 17, 2001

das_2099: they are talking about using breeder reactors which will reuse the spent materials.

And create lots of near-bomb grade plutonium, no?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:56 PM on May 17, 2001

And create lots of near-bomb grade plutonium, no?

Yes, that's another benefit.
posted by kindall at 6:04 PM on May 17, 2001

Aaron, this is interesting -- only a few short months ago, people were crowing about California, land of the energy spendthrifts. Now it's California, land of the energy misers who didn't build enough power plants. No real comment here. Just an observation of the evolving spin...
posted by snarkout at 7:30 PM on May 17, 2001

Bush set us up the bomb.

posted by mrbula at 8:53 PM on May 17, 2001

The "power crisis" was caused by artificial shortages in the market and collusion by power generators, and now the people's funds are being transferred by President-select to his investors
posted by owillis at 9:01 PM on May 17, 2001

uh, arron, a while back the problem was deregulation. So the problem isn`t that conservation won`t work, but that the government made a free market for energy (or said they were making a free market) and that free market is screwing things up. There was no crisis before this stuff went into effect.

This of course, doesn`t acknowledge the energy on windfarms that can`t be pumped to the power grids. Nor does it deal with the imminent availability of fuel cells which would allow people to sell power to the grid. I`d say these sound like a good idea, and since they`ll be around before the end of the year, no need to go building the infrastructure that we`re gonna need to drill in ANWR.

Of course, none of this deals with the solution of doing it a different way. Assuming a new and plentiful (i.e., "alternative") power source was developed, we`d have little to no need to worry about conservation.
posted by chiheisen at 11:32 PM on May 17, 2001

The only energy plan that will work in the US is one that lets Americans do whatever they feel like doing and for little or no immediate and personal financial cost. The US is in one of those Eisenhower-and-finned-cars stages again. "I Like Tyke" and SUVs.
posted by pracowity at 12:49 AM on May 18, 2001

It has been repeatedly stated that "conservation alone will not suffice." This overlooks the fact that it is possible to convserve to the point of using next to nothing at all. So logically, conservation alone could be the answer to this perceived crisis. I'm not suggesting that this is the best route, only that the right amount of conservation, combined with our current energy production, could be. The problem with this is that many people see change as a threat, and a reduction in their standard of living. If we use mass transit more, or don't keep the house as cool in the summer, this means that we are worse off? What about the side effects of creating a cleaner environment for use and our kin to enjoy? Is this not adding to and increasing our standard of living. Right now the standard of living is calculated only in material possessions and comforts. For anything to be done about the our present energy situation, there needs to be a shift in the public ideology before true conservation and alternative energy sources can become mainstream. Unfortunately, it is quite obvious the Dubya is not a student of this School of Thought.
posted by aprilwinter at 9:18 AM on May 18, 2001

> The problem with this is that many people see change
> as a threat, and a reduction in their standard of living.

Many people are morons. That's the problem. Never forget that half of all people are below average. They need to be governed but the government is too afraid to do it because the government is a bunch of glad-handing guys who want to keep their cushy jobs. They need the moron voting bloc.

What should happen:

Issue gas-only credit cards. (Or debit cards or whatever.) One account per vehicle. The point is that you would be able to buy as much gas as you like but the gas tax would rise for every gallon you buy that month for that vehicle. At first, no taxes. Zero. Have fun, kids. The first tank's on us.

But then the taxes would gradually but steadily rise, eventually to very high levels (ten dollars a gallon?). And taxes would be higher just before and during rush hour.

It would all be calculated automatically and transparently, so there would be no added driver difficulty other than the difficulty of paying for unnecessary driving.

This would encourage people to do whatever the hell they like but pay a fair price for it. A fair gas price includes the cost of pollution, highway expansion, traffic jams, and oil wars. People who drive excessively in gas-wasting vehicles should pay most for these things.

Sensible people would buy efficient cars, choose home and work locations with travel costs in mind, share rides, and not drive when they could easily walk or bike. Such smart people would have a lot more money left at the end of the month.

People who don't want to participate could pay in cash for the fully taxed gasoline, which should be more expensive than gas in Europe.

But, no. The Bush energy plan, which is the Bush job-keeping plan, which is necessarily the Bush get-out-the-moron-vote plan, is to desperately look for more oil because Americans sure are wasting a hell of a lot of it.
posted by pracowity at 2:12 AM on May 19, 2001

By the way, this is most of the US energy crisis.
posted by pracowity at 4:56 AM on May 19, 2001

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