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With President-elect Obama closing the deal in a resounding manner, let's review his proposed energy policies. Obama has long called for action to mitigate climate change and to decrease foreign energy dependence. Obama has not to my knowledge ever discussed peak oil, but the general rubric of "energy independence" captures some of the key features of the peak oil discussion.
Here's the summary of Obama's stated energy policy:
Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future
Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined
Put one million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America
Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025
Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050
The day after Obama won his historic race, well-placed commentators were already discussing the likelihood of beefing up these plans. Daniel Yergin, perhaps the best candidate for the energy guru's guru, said on CNBC that Obama would push hard for a "green economic stimulus" package well over $100 billion. Combined with Congress's recent enactment of new tax credits for solar, wind, geothermal, etc., it''s looking very good for renewables.
Kateri Callahan, with the Alliance to Save Energy, announced on the same day that Obama's plans for cap and trade would probably be delayed somewhat in favor of a bill to provide additional incentives for renewables and energy efficiency. I'm inclined to agree that it's a tough political climate right now for an aggressive national cap and trade system.
Two of Obama's existing proposals stand out as very promising: his proposed windfall profits tax on oil companies and his call for 100% auctions of pollution permits under the greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade system he supports.
Ironically, Governor Palin, the alleged fiscal conservative, did recently impose a windfall profits tax on oil producers in Alaska. Obama's proposal would impose a higher tax on oil companies when oil prices exceed $80 a barrel (they're below $70 now, plummeting from their July peak of $147). This is not a new idea -- it was, in another irony, in effect for the duration of Reagan's presidency, collecting $80 billion from domestic oil producers.
The best feature of a windfall profits tax, from my point of view, is a price floor on oil -- because additional taxes will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. With the oil price now less than half of its July peak, many new oil projects are already being canceled. This is good from a climate change point of view because it will delay, at the least, the burning of those additional fossil fuels. But it may make the issue of peak oil even worse as new projects fail to come online and help slow the decline rate of existing oil fields. (The International Energy Agency's leaked 2008 World Energy Outlook concludes, in a first-ever field-by-field analysis, that global declines rates from existing fields are about 9%, which is far higher than previously projected. Globally, we will need huge amounts of new oil to make up for this decline, which simply isn't going to happen due to the magnitude of the decline).
Obama's other notable proposal is a 100% auction requirement for pollution allowances under a national cap and trade system. The California Public Utilities Commission recently proposed a 20% auction requirement for California's own cap and trade system (under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act), ratcheting up 20% each year so that by 2016, all allowances are auctioned. With 100% auctions, the cap and trade system acts much like a carbon tax, which economists widely prefer over a cap and trade system. Due to the perceived political benefits of cap and trade versus a carbon tax (with the "t" word as part its name), it will be important to include as many beneficial features of a carbon tax in the proposed national cap and trade program. 100% auctions is a very good first step in this direction.
The windfall profits tax and the 100% auction requirement will jointly act as a price floor for fossil fuels. This is very smart policy because it acknowledges that the first round of the renewables revolution, prompted by the oil crises of the 1970s, died a sad death in the 1980s as oil and gas prices plummeted. Yet another irony is that oil and gas prices plummeted due in part to U.S. vehicle efficiency standards, which came into effect aggressively in the late 1970s and 1980s.
It is highly important, then, that price floors for fossil fuels be ensured. This is an overtly anti-free market policy, but it is quite clear from recent events that free market fundamentalism has gone the way of the dodo. Revenue from fossil fuel price floors should be reinvested back into increased energy efficiency and renewables.
Long-term, there is no doubt that fossil fuel prices will go far higher even than recent price spikes, due to market forces alone. But with the global economy apparently in recession, no one can say where fossil fuel prices are going over the next couple of years. And to maintain momentum on renewable energy, climate change mitigation -- and the even more immediate threat of peak oil, it's imperative that Congress and Obama not lose focus on serious action now. Unfortunately, the American people can be fickle, and with gas prices back to more normal prices, there is a real risk that political will for aggressive energy policies will diminish. We can't afford to let that happen -- again.
California's energy ballot measures didn't fare as well as Obama. Prop. 1a, the high speed rail initiative, passed and this is a great step toward a less oil-dependent transportation system.
Prop. 7 was, however, defeated badly. This is unfortunate because Prop. 7 would have provided powerful incentives for renewable energy. It failed due to an aggressive opposition consisting primarily of the utilities, environmental groups and the renewable energy industry. The opposition led with a puzzling claim that Prop. 7 would harm small renewable energy companies, which was patently not the case for a number of reasons, including the fact that the California Solar Initiative governs solar facilities under one megawatt and the Renewable Portfolio Standard law, which Prop. 7 would have changed, covered medium and large-scale renewables.
Prop. 10 was also defeated and this was a positive result. While Prop. 10 had many good features, it was too heavily weighted toward natural gas vehicles. Natural gas vehicles are indeed better in some regards than normal cars, but electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are even better and these better solutions would have been short-changed by Prop. 10. Environmental groups were united in their opposition to this measure.
In sum, November 4th was a great day for renewables and energy efficiency. Much work remains to be done, but the trajectory is clear: the arc of history bends toward a more sustainable future.
Tam Hunt is Energy Program Director and Attorney for the Community Environmental Council. He is also a Lecturer in renewable energy law and policy at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara.
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
Tam, please don't keep talking about cap-and-trade, because I might be forced to do the kind of hatchet job on that scam that I did on the swindle called electric deregulation. Ah, those wonderful days in Hong Kong and elsewhere, ridiculing the deregulation booster club. Too bad that I couldn't convince everybody, or even almost everybody, or for that matter.....
I also seems to have read on this site that Paris Hilton had the right idea. This was to combine the energy agendas of Obama and McCain (and Palin), to which I can add cut away the bad edges. Where the latter are concerned, some backward induction might be useful if I could figure out exactly how fossil fuels fit into the new package (together with mmore nuclear and more renewables). Maybe you and your colleagues at Cal (Santa Barbara) could handle that 'mission'.
Bob Amorosi 11.13.08
Cap-and-trade or carbon taxes may very well be a scam but is it really of any great surprise that it's on every government's radar screens these days. Remember there are huge vested interests in fossil fuel use, and whether we like it or not the US will heavily depend on them for quite some time yet. If the game must be rigged somehow in favor of all their competition for the purpose to mostly phase fossil out over time, what other ways do you propose to discourage expansion of fossil use.
Ferdinand E. Banks 11.13.08
Thanks for the question, Bob, but I am not in the business of telling people how to discourage the expansion of fossil use, EVEN IF I KNeW. Where the subject of cap and trade is concerned, however, I may not be able to stay away from that topic much longer.
This thing with cap and trade is extraordinarily interesting though, because what we have here is important people, serious people, people with real power taking the word of academic hacks that the logic implicit in make-believe economic models from Econ 101 is applicable to billion dollar industries. I was talking to a graduate student today, and he saw the nuttiness in it right away.
Is there anything good about Tam's article. Oh, yes. Everybody needs to be familiar with the oil decline rate, and if it really is 9% (on average), then that is some very bad news, regardless of where the oil price ends up before the macro and financial decline burns out. With that kind of decline rate, discussions of 'peak oil' are superfluous.
Len Gould 11.14.08
Fred: I see that the best analysts on the TheOilDrum website (Hagens, Rembrandt, the Actuary) all pretty much agree that the decline rate acknowledged by the new IEA outlook is "something up to 9% / year" average for existing crude oil fields worldwide
However, IES's outlook to 2030 indicates that they expect non-conventional, undiscovered, gas liquids and undeveloped to step in and bring total world production to 103? mm bpd from present about 80. That predicted drop-off in world crude production (blue) though looks dramatic, and they're counting on some enormous development projects. Like about a new S Arabia every year from now to 2030. ??
Len Gould 11.14.08
Sorry, some errors (mine) above. Corrections
"Under the reference scenario, production reaches 104 mb/d in 2030, requiring 64 mb/d of gross capacity additions –(six times the current capacity of Saudi Arabia) –to meet demand growth & counter decline. Historically, the 1960's was the decade with the largest capacity addition, with about 30 Mb/d added during that 10 year period. So, the IEA Reference Scenario assumes we need to do as well as the best decade ever over the next 22 years. "
Jude Clemente 11.14.08
Setting unrealistic goals - such as Al Gore's 100% renewables by 2018 and some of the RPSs put out there - does nobody any good. These things set the renewable inustry back. Prop 7 similar situation. There will be a backlash against these policies, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Even Obama has admitted moving towards clean coal is our goal, we simply have too much of it. Baseload power cannot be supplied otherwise.
Tam Hunt 11.14.08
Len, the even more scary conclusion from the conservative IEA is that we will need half of the new oil production by 2015 - about 3.5 Saudi Arabias. That simply isn't going to happen. Hold on to your seat.
Tam Hunt 11.14.08
Jude, there are many baseload renewables, including biomass, geothermal, molten salt thermal storage concentrating solar power, and also hydro (though water levels fluctuate). Also, natural gas is baseload, as is nuclear power (though I am not a fan of nuclear). The actual numbers in Prop 7 (50% renewables by 2025) weren't what mattered. What mattered were the many powerful incentives for increasing renewables investments.
Ferdinand E. Banks 11.14.08
I wouldn't worry about the IEA's forecasts for oil. THEY WILL NEVER BE REALIZED! I examined these very carefully last year, and they involve production from Saudi Arabia that will never take place, although Saudi Arabia was not mentioned explicitly.
Then what's the point? Why are we confronted with nonsense? The answer is that some powerful people, somewhere, want to be told certain things about the world oil market, and the decision makers at the IEA understand that giving these big shots what they want is the best career move. I'm sure that most people contributing to this forum are aware that you can't run around telling people things that they don't want to hear, even if those things happen to be the truth.
Bob Amorosi 11.14.08
The world is full of people in high-profile positions that tell the public what they or some vested interests want to hear. More often than not it is BS.
As Tam suggests regardless of what happens to oil production rates, the wheels are already spinning to foster much more renewables. The efforts he is part of in California are now being recognized and incentivized on a much wider scale in the US. It would seem our western economies have been stung and shocked once too often by fossil sources. Combining this with the climate change crisis and irate voters are finally getting their politicians to intervene to help foster energy alternatives on a much bigger scale, whether it makes good economic sense today or not. Hopefully for our sake it will in time.
I wouldn’t count nuclear out either. Renewables alone will never be totally practical enough to completely replace many of the large central generators we now have, and in time nuclear will still be there when fossils are disappearing.
Ferdinand E. Banks 11.14.08
Let's narrow this down, Bob. People - to include the good Tam Hunt - think that they have a choice in this energy thing. They do, but not on their terms. They can't choose between nuclear and renewables in the generation of a certain amount of energy without paying a price that they don't want to pay. In the case of the United States, the new president is intelligent enough to see this - if he wants to see it. Tam is right when he says that there should be incentives to obtain more investment in renewables, but we need a constraint here, and that constraint probably has to do with per-capital energy consumption. A constraint of this nature will ensure that nuclear cannot be 'dismissed'.
Jude said that researchers at Carnegie-Mellon have said that there will be a backlash against.... No Jude, maybe they talked about a backlash at some storefront university on Rodeo Drive, but not at Carnegie Mellon or your university or mine, because talking about backlashes is for fools.
Don Giegler 11.15.08
You've got a point. Back in the days before spinning reels, there was a device called the level-wind bait casting reel. Always did feel pretty foolish when I tried toss that Heddon River Runt or Johnson Silver Minnow too far past the lily pads!
Len Gould 11.17.08
I wonder if hedge funds and speculators can mess up the renewable energy market like they do the oil market?
Tam Hunt 11.17.08
I agree that even the latest IEA report (which is the best by far) is still highly politicized. If you want more information, visit www.theoildrum.com for a series of very good dissections of this report.
The best quote from the IEA's report is that "radical action is necessary at the local" and other levels to mitigate oil supply difficulties and climate change. This is a remarkable statement for the highly conservative IEA. And my rule of thumb is that when an organization makes a statement that is contrary to their usual role or predisposition, it should carry even more weight.
It's great that Obama will be in office soon, because I think he gets these issues much better than the current denizens of the White House. He also said some encouraging things on 60 Minutes last night about not losing focus b/c of temporarily lower oil prices. But anything that Obama and this Congress will get done in the next four years won't come close to being enough. We need "radical" action at all levels of government to deal with these problems. Now.
Don Giegler 11.17.08
Speaking of local action, one can only hope that Tea hasn't transformed you from "radical" to "flaming radical".
Tam Hunt 11.18.08
Hah, nice one Don! No, my home is fine.
Joseph Somsel 11.18.08
I will give you credit, Tam - at least you're not spouting the "all of the above" nonsense that our politicians (including my beloved Sarah Palin) seemed to default to in the last election.
However, you seem to endorse the "broken window fallacy" as it applies to energy. That is, the more "green jobs" the better. In fact, the FEWER people employed making energy, the better since that leaves more net energy left over for the community to use in general economic activity. And, since the individual worker productivity is higher, they can be better compensated.
As a gedanken experiment, let's put half the population of the US on treadmills to make electricity for the other half. That would maximize "green jobs" but it would result in very little electricity and very low pay for the treadmillers.
While I admittedly have a self-interested point of view, it is generally preferable for society to have a few highly paid nuclear engineers making 20% of the country's juice than to have lots of windmill and solar panel installers making 10% of our megawatt-hours.
bill payne 11.18.08
"Put one million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015..."
Electric energy shortage articles are appearing.
We've been attending PNM electric resource planning meetings for over a year and have become aware that there appear to be electric supply problems looming in the very near future - 1-4 years.
We learned that powder river basin coal contains about 8,800 per POUND.
We're concerned that green energy sources may not have the BTUs IN to have much effect on any future electric supply problem.
PNM forecaster Steve Martin showed us that new construction is the main problem with increased load.
It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what will happen.
Richard Failla 11.18.08
I remain very unconvinced that anyone, including the incoming administration's Great expectations. Can you give me any specifics that the incoming government (since the democrats have both houses) will actually give an entrepreneur money in order to start a new green business?
In terms of going after Big Oi, let me say this about that; if you remember Jimmy Carter's Wind-fall tax on the oil companies. It was intended to accomplish the same thing. If you remember then you will remember that Oil companies stopped drilling. They didn't start in earnest until the that tax was appealed. It was a terrible idea. So it all sounds great, but I wish the new administration luck with that.
It is wonderful to be idealistic, that is why I became a geologist, but these policies should not be at the expense of the taxpayer, me and you.
thanks great article
George Karayannis 11.18.08
Nov. 4th Was Also a Great Day for Community-Based Solutions...
Little-noticed ballot Issue 1A in Boulder County, CO, passed by nearly 2:1 on November 4th, marking a historic milestone in our country's quest for energy independence/security. Ballot 1A approved $40M in local EE/RE bonds for local residents and businesses who wish to invest in energy efficiency or green energy generation, and who will then pay back the bonds on their property tax each year.
A $40M initial investment in this pilot program could make $2K per house available to 20K homes for such simple steps as increased insulation, CFL lighting, weatherproofing, etc. (http://www.boulderweekly.com/20080918/coverstory.html).
While we desperately need strong and sustained federal leadership regarding strategic energy policy, the actual war will be fought in the trenches of local communities such as Boulder. Congratulations to Boulder County on taking a critical first step in building community awareness and creating a viable path forward.
Len Gould 11.19.08
bill payne: "Electric energy shortage articles are appearing." -- A huge fleet of electric vehicles can be charged in the valleys of the present load curve with the only requirement being replacement of some short-run gas turbines with baseload, ideally nuclear. Nothing to get all had-wringy about.
Bob Amorosi 11.19.08
The Boulder County, CO, ballot win is very interesting. It says a majority of consumers are prepared to pay for conservation and efficiency upgrades to their homes given affordable financing incentives.
Do you think this concept be extended perhaps to finance other conservation and efficiency measures for residential consumers? Like for instance paying for in-home electronic technologies that communicate with the local utility company's smart meter to enable home automation, real-time energy monitoring, and potentially real-time electricity markets for every consumer as Len Gould has proposed in his IMEUC reform ideas tabled on this website. Other measures might be installing solar thermal or PV micro-generators on rooftops of homes to enable some consumers to become independent of the grid, and perhaps even sell excess power back into the grid.
Warren Reynolds 11.19.08
Jude: There is no such thing as "clean" coal ! It has always been dirty, continues to be dirty and will always be dirty, e.g. carbon dioxide production.
I agree "cap-and-trade" is a sham and the policing of it will be very difficult. No, my friends, we must convert to solar energy as quickly as possible.
Joseph Somsel 11.20.08
You seem to be missing a step when you say "The Boulder County, CO, ballot win is very interesting. It says a majority of consumers are prepared to pay for conservation and efficiency upgrades to their homes given affordable financing incentives."
What the voters are saying is they are fine with energy conservation investments so long as the costs are somehow hidden or displaced to someone else. They would benefit directly by using tax-advantaged municipal loans. The taxes NOT paid on those loans is a hidden subsidy from ALL the nation's taxpayers,
Just another liberal sleight of hand move.
Bob Amorosi 11.21.08
Since when is a loan made to a consumer from ANY source not required to be paid back? A loan is a loan is a loan. If a consumer defaults on paying it back, his property taxes go into arrears and he risks losing his house. The only "subsidy" from the nation's taxpayers is presumably the low interest on it because it is a municipal loan.
But then any government interventionist measures from your perverse point of view is deemed "liberal", isn't it? In my neck of the woods you would be deemed a "neoconservative", in favor of total deregulation and free markets to solve all our problems. Well the anti-neocons are saying just look at the economic mess AND energy mess the neocons have gotten the US and Canada into today. Don’t get me wrong either, I am not an against free markets strictly speaking, but at some point government intervention is the only way to solve some problems when an effort on a national scale is required.
Bob Amorosi 11.21.08
Some may wonder why consumers simply don't seek financing from a bank to invest in conservation and efficiency upgrades for their homes. A very small minority actually do, but one of the problems why a majority don’t is the classic herd mentality syndrome of many consumers. Many will not do it by themselves even if they know it could benefit them financially in the distant future, and even if they do invest privately, their neighbors are not necessarily told about it. But if a government promotes it to everyone by offering low interest loans, as Boulder County is proposing to do through their property tax system, many consumers will surely start to believe it must be the "right thing to do”. Once it starts it leads to a snowball effect as more consumers jump on the bandwagon.
It's no different than marketing of consumer products by big name companies. For example when the latest smart phone comes out (like Apple's IPhone did) or the latest kid's toy (like the Tickle-Me Elmo doll did), when it's mass promoted by a big name company, most consumers bend over backwards to get one because it becomes "fashionable" to have one. Governments promoting new initiatives have the mass marketing power to do exactly the same thing.
Bob Amorosi 11.21.08
If anyone doubts whether governments have the mass marketing power I talk about above, here in Ontario our government has been aggressively promoting conservation and efficiency measure for commercial industry and consumers using massive amounts of tax funds to offer rebates and other incentives. And it is working, the take up by industry and consumers has been substantial.
For example one of the incentive programs offered through our utility companies is an offer to pick up any 10-year-old or older refrigerator or freezer from a residence and dispose of it free of charge if a consumer is willing to replace it with a newer energy efficient one. Called the "Refrigerator Roundup" program, there have been over 100,000 units disposed of since the program started a couple of years ago, saving the province energy consumption measured in many megawatts.
George Karayannis 11.25.08
You clearly didn't read the link and instead graced us with uninformed, ideological blather - which the nation's voters overwhelmingly rejected on Nov. 4th.
What the voters of the clearly-progressive Boulder County said with their 2:1 vote was that borrowing local funds to finance the low-hanging fruit of EE and weatherization is well worth it. The local bonds are paid back annual via increased property taxes, which remain attached to the house if sold until paid back in full.
George Karayannis 11.25.08
How do I flag this thread so that I'm informed of additional comments? I don't see an RSS feed. Also suggest a reply-to comment function to support threaded conversations. Thanks. George
Bob Amorosi 11.25.08
The voters in Boulder County are a beacon that tells politicians a very important message - if governments sanction private investment in something that saves consumers money on their energy bills by helping to finance it, then voters will embrace it. This concept could easily be extended to financing many other ideas to help our energy industries mitigate the looming energy crisis in North America.
Case in point. I have personal experience in developing real-time in-home energy display technology that communicates with one of the state-of-the-art smart meters being commercialized on the market, but our utility industry is in most cases not interested in funding any technology in consumers' homes beyond their service meters and AMI systems. This is in spite of the proven conservation benefits of this technology, and the fact a substantial portion of consumers would be willing to PAY for it if they were offered the chance to do so. Our utilities by and large would prefer to enable it for every customer, not commercialize it to only those willing to pay for it. Unfortunately enabling it for every customer would require unpalatable rate increases to pay for it, and a stalemate results without government intervention.
George Karayannis 11.25.08
I do think that RE/EE community bonds could be used for some micro-generation and solar hot water in particular. But I'm leery of it working for many of the demand response programs you mentioned - primarily because of mismatched costs vs. benefits.
Community-based RE/EE bonds are inherently focused on improving the local economy. Most energy management solutions are regional or national in scope. Perhaps if we could get Federal Net Metering standards in place it would make more sense. But as it stands right now, utilities' focus is a DEVICE (electric meter), not an integrated energy management solution.
I've also worked on in-home wireless energy management systems, and think that one product that consumers would absolutely LOVE is a simple fridge magnet that communicates with the electric meter. Red = highest electricity pricing, yellow = less outrageous prices, and green = simply painful pricing. In other words, a key problem the industry and federal policy has failed to address is the need for cost-effective and practical feedback mechanisms in support of real time prices.
Bob Amorosi 11.26.08
Demand response programs are indeed costly particularly if they require in-home technologies. The problem with the benefits mismatch I think you are talking about is that the benefits are mostly to the consumer in reduced energy bills, not the utility company. So there is little incentive for the utility company to invest in it.
Real-time in-home energy monitoring has been proven to foster close to 10% sustained reduction in energy consumption on average, some consumers by as much as 20%. For an average consumer spending say $100 per month on electricity on average, many consumer would gladly pay perhaps $100 if the payback time was measured in months. But when the benefits are not realized by the utility company on their balance sheet, they have little interest in investing in it. This is where governments have the potential to help consumers much more by helping utilities invest in it this sort of thing, and then require participating consumers to pay back the investment.
Bob Amorosi 11.26.08
As you correctly point out, consumer feedback mechanisms for real-time electricity pricing is an identified need, and anything that communicates with a smart meter can do this if the utility company sets up their AMI system to push that information down to the meters in the field. The smart meter though is not the only place the real-time price can be found, it can in theory be obtained over the internet directly from the utility company in near real time also.
There are other potential benefits though of communicating with a smart meter. One is simple education of consumers if they can monitor real-time power consumption in watts. Most consumers have no clue how much power the myriad of loads in their house use, but an active real-time power display permits them to see the effects of flipping a switch on or off.
The savings of real-time displays are mostly from a display's ability to track and show a consumer their running energy bill in their face every day since the start of the billing period. Most energy display products have had this capability but they had to be manually programmed with billing rates, which is prone to programming and later display errors. Communicating electronically with a smart meter or utility company in real time alternatively would allow automatic billing rate programming whenever rates change, and eliminate errors.
Smart meters and AMI systems also have the potential to serve as a communications link into other in-home demand response load controls that automatically respond to real-time price changes or requests from the utility company. These could be set up by a consumer to respond or not respond as they see fit, and potentially communicate back to the utility company whether they have in fact responded to a price change or demand response request, and even report local power outages back to the utility that can help with outage management if the display has other communications built into it.
Another but perhaps less important benefit of communicating with a smart meter is the potential ability for utility companies to send text messages to customers in real time.
All of the above capabilities require investments to enable them in AMI systems, and investments in the in-home hardware. The question is investments by who.
Ferdinand E. Banks 11.27.08
I saw the interview with Michael Moore on Larry King, where he proposed a Manhattan Project approach to the energy 'problem' - note, I did NOT say energy independence.
I've proposed a Manhattan Project type approach' for several years - or maybe that should be centuries - but not recently, because this suggestion does not seem to have caught on. However, I dont really see how this energy thing can be handled without a comparable effort. Had it not been for the macro-financial meltdown, the price of of oil MIGHT be at or moving toward$200/b now, because it was clear that had the price reached that level, Bill and Sally Sixpack would have given strong consideration to paying it rather than acting in an anti-social fashion. Believe me, if President Obama had found it necessary to deal with an oil price of that magnitude, the words 'change' and 'hope' would have had a different ring.
That brings us to Green Energy initiative. I wish the president and Tam all the luck in the world, but I don't believe in it, and even if it's not 'pie in the sky' and can be pulled off, it could turn out to be a sub-optimal undertaking (cost wise) if it is going to be handled the way that Tam describes it, and the way that he and his academic friends want it. We're talking gut feeling here, and so I could be wrong, but whether I'm wrong or right my way is still the best way. What is my way? Well, I don't really know, except for the first part, which is working with the French to improve third generation nuclear equipment, and make a reality of the fourth generation equipment, and marginally expanding the nuclear base WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT. In the present circumstances, thought isn't necessary.
I made some proposals like this a month or so ago, and was told that I was off my cork, and that I was passing out illusions. Hmm. I can still remember hearing Franklin Roosevelt announcing what the US was going to do to make WW2 come out the way that he wanted, which incidentally happened, despite some fantastic blunders.
Bob Amorosi 11.27.08
In spite of the efforts by California and Tam's circle of people, nuclear is getting the attention you are suggesting. In the nuclear industry it is being described as a renaissance with new demand for nuclear plants emerging responsible for the recent driving up of construction costs.
Nuclear is far from dead. There are plans here in Ontario for expanding big nuclear substantially with a new plant contract to be awarded soon, maybe next year sometime. I also heard there have been several new big nuclear plants tabled for the eastern half of the US, and if approved by the regulators in Washington, construction for several are slated all to start all within 12 months of each other, in 2010 or 2011.
California may not build them within the foreseeable future but it may end up being surrounded by new ones in neighboring states.
David Smith 11.29.08
I see the resident ecofascist has chimed in again with yet another call for unrealistic, unscientific, antieconomic "energy" policies. BTW - it didn't really matter who won this last election, since both candidates pretty much chimed in the same tired leftist line on energy. The only difference between Obama and McCain is that I percieve that Obama is not really as stupid as his stated leftist leanings would lead one to believe, whereas the RINO McCain probably really does believe in AGW, so-called "renewables", and other leftist nonsense. But I digress......
As for Obama's energy fantasy.....er.."plan"... as expressed by Tam, where are the specifics? How does one go about providing "short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump"? Cut the federal gas tax (and subsequently bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund)? Or perhaps eliminate the EPA's requirement for 863 different boutique fuel blends (which by the way would have no impact on the environment whatsoever)? The latter is the obvious responsible choice, but of course will never happen under the current sociofascist government.
"Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future"? See Joseph Somsel's reference to the Broken Window analogy.
"Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined"? The only way to do this in a realistic proactive manner without damaging the economy is to aggressively develop CTL plants to supplement domestic/NA/friendly import sources. Everything else would cause serious damage to the ecomomy. Have we learned nothing from our ethanol debacle?
"Put one million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America"? Another fantasy, put out there during the campaign to suck in all those uneducated/indoctrinated Democrat voters. Who is going to pay for all these cars? Where are we going to get the electricity to power all these cars, especially with the ecofascist pressures being foisted upon coal and nuclear power, e.g. the only realistic sources for future baseload generation? Do you even think in your most extreme fantasies that you can get 1 million people to actually buy these things? You seem to think that it is a good thing to try and transfer an auto's power supply from an on-board source to a centralized souce, a train of thought that runs counter to basic economic principles. Mobile energy users require distributed power sources.
"Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025"? Quite simply, this is impossible.....unless you allow hydropower to count as a renewable, in which case we are already over 10 percent. But to achieve 25 percent will require a whole bunch of new dams to be built at sites currently off limits due to environmental regulations. Now, if you are one of those folks who thinks we can achieve 25 percent striclty from solar and wind......well, you truly are an idiot or a liar, one who sees environmentalism as a means to a more draconian political end.......
"Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050"? Again, this is quite simply an impossibility. IT CAN'T BE DONE!!! Even if we replace all coal-fired and natural gas-fired generation with nuclear (a theoretically possible if not entirely practical construct), that will cut maybe 50 percent of CO2, but of course it will result in an increase of that other more prevalent but entirely ignored greenhouse gas known by some as dihydrogen monoxide, by others as simply water vapor. Let me remind you of this little axiom - in order for the greenhouse effect to take place, you need reflection and refraction. Only water droplets and ice crystals have the necessary surface area to enable this phenomenon in most of our atmosphere. At 385 ppm, there isn't enough CO2 in our atmosphere to even start to form these physical characteristics, even if upper stratospheric temps are low enough to allow dry ice to form.
So where is the other 30 percent cut in CO2 supposed to come from? I'll tell you where - a complete collapse of our remaining industrial sector combined with a severe reduction in peoples' auto purchasing and driving habits, enforced by a multi-times increase in a policing force to enforce such draconain mandates, necessatating a confistication of people's private firearms......
Yep, that's a world I'd like to live in - communism without any supporting industrial infrastructure. So it wouldn't be Soviet-style communism, more like Cuban-style communism!
Good times for all, eh Tam?
Dave Smith Moscow ID USA
Edward Reid, Jr. 11.29.08
Now that the "neocons" will be handing over power in Washington, we will have the opportunity to see how the neolibs, neolefties, neosocs and neocoms handle things. Should be a great show!
Ferdinand E. Banks 11.30.08
Lot of talk about fascists and neo-folk in the above. Makes me want to confess that It would really have wrecked my nervous system if Governor Palin had opened some champagne the day after the election, but since she headed in the direction of Siberia instead, I was able to paint a smile on my face when I went up to the uni to receive the congradulations of my...peers. Of coúrse, if Sen McCain had chosen ANYONE other than Palin, I might have enjoyed a win-win experience this time. As it was, I was so afraid that Governor Palin was on her way to Washington that I had to stare at the TV set for 5 minutes before I dared to turn it on the morning after the great event.
About the new president's energy ambitions. As far as I can tell they fall into line with the ambitions of a majority of American voters. That being the case I'd really and truly love to hear more about his program, and especially a lot of details. Lots and lots, because on the basis of what I know about it now, I am afraid that I have to grade it F - for fruitcake.
I published a comment somewhere remarking on what was done in the way of mobilization and industrialization in the US during WW2, expecting that everyone would throw out their chests and say 'ain't we great'. Instead I had to take guff about the shortage of engineers and canned salmon and things like that. The truth of the matter is that if the United States is a shadow of the US I grew up in, solving this energy thing could be 'a piece of cake'.
Len Gould 12.1.08
One thing that is painfully obvious. It's a good thing that thinking (??) like Dave Smith above is not in charge.
Jeff Presley 12.2.08
Len Gould: "It's a good thing that thinking... is not in charge"
Yup, sounds like Len. Ignore EVERY valid point Dave makes and throw an ad hominem bomb over the wall. Try rebutting the points one by one there Len, or is that too much for your limited intelligence to comprehend? (See how fun ad hominem attacks are? And isn't it fun to be on the receiving end of one?) :)
BTW Len, I sincerely hope thinking one day IS in charge instead of hyperbole and political machinations. IF you have an intelligent rebuttal for each of Dave's points above, let's see them, discuss them and perhaps THINKING can rule the day. But if you just want to play grade school games, go back to your playground and leave adult talk to the adults.
Bob Amorosi 12.2.08
Dave Smith doesn’t need Len to argue all his points, the majority of the population has already votged against most of them in electing Obama. Although the average Joe voter may not have been highly educated in casting their votes for Obama, it doesn't take much science or education for anyone over 40 to recognize the status quo is no longer acceptable. Something is very wrong on the climate scene, in our decimated manufacturing economy, and in our energy industries, and the average voter knows that SOMETHING must change. If we all thought like Dave, as Len alludes to, we would just carry on doing most things as before.
In a sense I don't blame Dave that much, the old ways of doing things worked very well for decades in times of booming prosperity in the US. I don't envy Obama's administration and the daunting problems they face, and I only pray they don't make too many huge blunders given they will be fostering much widespread change into uncharted territory.
Start saving your pennies, you're going to need them because the days of plentiful energy being a low-cost bargain are numbered, in the US and elsewhere.
Len Gould 12.2.08
Jeff: You defend a guy who's first phrase contains "ecofacist" against ad hominem? Whos entire post amounts to a sequence of lifted quotes against ill-supported argument?
Give us a break, please.
Len Gould 12.2.08
And further, Jeff, I'm not ok with you pretending I said anything which can be rebutted with your statement "I sincerely hope thinking one day IS in charge". If you can stop re-writing my statments to appear to mean something completely different from what I said it would be appreciated.
Jeff Presley 12.3.08
Bob, "Dave Smith doesn’t need Len to argue all his points, the majority of the population has already votged against most of them in electing Obama". Well, the majority here in America DID elect Obama, but that doesn't mean quite what you'd like it to mean, just as the IPCC coming to a "consensus" doesn't mean what people claim it means either. Obama is a consummate politician, and even used his "experience" running a campaign as a comparison to Palin being a mayor of a small town. He laughingly compared his almost $1Billion budget and 2500 staffers against hers in Wasalia. Of course he wasn't stupid enough to claim he'd trumped her gubernatorial credentials, but why should he, he's had the press corps in his hip pocket the entire time. So, were Americans intelligent for electing Obama or merely sheep following the strictures of the 4th Estate? We'll leave that for the historians to decide, but this was anything but a fair contest by ANY measure. Not that McCain was such a wonderful person mind you, but the US press in this campaign couldn't even SPELL the word impartial.
Len, no need to put words in your mouth, they speak loudly and clearly on the page. If you don't like being called out for your snarky comments, don't make them.
Len Gould 12.3.08
Jeff: "So, were Americans intelligent for electing Obama" -- Not so much as they were intelligent in rejecting the Bush "legacy", Rove campaign tactics, and divisive republican legislative agenda.
Called out?? Ha. Not likely.
Jeff Presley 12.4.08
Len, when I need a lesson in American politics, I'll be sure and get it from a Canadian eh? mebbe not.
Ross Rolirad 12.7.08
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Ross Rolirad 12.7.08
Renewable energy is certainly the wave of the future. Energy "coservation" is something that can happen NOW!