Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bush energy bill not suprising with a few token fuel alternatives

Bush Green Watch
According to the EIA, gasoline prices will increase by 6.45 percent by 2010. If the energy bill becomes law, however, EIA says gas prices will increase by 6.6 percent by 2010. Over the long term, by 2025, the energy bill would result in a price jump of 10.3 percent, while under business as usual the increase would be only 8.2 percent.

The energy bill would also fail to reduce oil imports. According to EIA, oil imports are projected to increase 24.7 percent by 2010 under current policies. If the energy bill passes, oil imports will increase only slightly less, 23.8 percent. Over the long term, the energy bill would only modestly affect imports. If the bill passes and is signed into law, imports will increase 82.9 percent by 2025, compared to an increase of 84.8 percent without the energy bill.

Finally, the energy bill would have a devastating effect on our environment. Most notoriously, the bill would open the spectacular Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and production. Drilling in the Refuge would have no affect on today's gas prices, because oil from the Refuge will take 10 years to reach the market. Moreover, oil from the Refuge would provide the nation at best with only a 180-day supply – a miniscule amount in the big picture.

Washington Post
-Despite repeated calls by President Bush and members of Congress to decrease U.S. dependence on oil imports, a major energy bill that appears headed for passage this week would not significantly reduce the country's need for foreign oil, according to analysts and interest groups.

The United States imports 58 percent of the oil it consumes. Federal officials project that by 2025, the country will have to import 68 percent of its oil to meet demand. At best, analysts say, the energy legislation would slightly slow that rate of growth of dependence.

-The United States consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil a day, an amount forecast to grow steadily. The House-Senate conference committee rejected a measure calling on the president to reduce oil consumption by 1 million barrels a day by 2015. The Bush administration opposed the provision, saying it would require increasing fuel-efficiency standards beyond what technology would allow at an affordable price.

The provision that would have the biggest impact, analysts agreed, is a requirement for the United States to increase the amount of ethanol and other agriculture-derived fuels. That would offset some gasoline use, they said.

The Senate version, which requires more ethanol or agriculture-derived fuels than the House bill, would cut oil imports by 80,000 barrels a day by 2012, according to government estimates. That would mean oil imports would be about 0.8 percent less than they otherwise would have been in 2012.

-Bush has pushed to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, to tap what geologists say is one of the few remaining areas of the country that hold promise for major new production. Without that new drilling, net oil imports would be 68 percent in 2025, according to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. With drilling in the refuge, net oil imports would account for 64 percent of consumption in 2025, according to the EIA.

-The energy legislation also calls for money to be spent on research into hydrogen, alternative fuels, efficiency and technology, which supporters said could ultimately help reduce oil consumption. The Senate version of the legislation calls for tax breaks for hybrid vehicles, which supporters said would help reduce oil demand.

Environmentalists cited a provision included in the legislation that they said would result in more oil consumption and greater imports: extension of a provision designed to encourage auto manufacturers to produce vehicles that can run on either gasoline or a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol.

The provision allows automakers to receive fuel economy credit -- and increase production of less-fuel-efficient vehicles -- even if owners use only gasoline, environmentalists said. Few gas stations sell the ethanol blend, and many of the cars end up being fueled by gasoline, they said.

Most Americans will feel the impact of new law in 2007 when daylight-saving time is extended by one month to save energy.

Consumers will also be able to claim tax credits for installing more energy-efficient windows and solar panels on their homes and purchasing hybrid fueled vehicles.

Business Week: Bush Is Blowing Smoke On Energy
FOLLOWING A SCRIPT? Want to take a real step to prevent gasoline shortages and keep a lid on energy prices? Easing regulations on refineries may sound good. But the Administration could make things truly easier for refineries by requiring that the nation use just one blend of fuel, instead of the current dozens that various states require. Of course, that wouldn't be a hit in many of the red states, which currently don't use the cleanest-burning fuels. It would be a bold step that would make a real difference, however.

Want to increase supplies of oil and gas? Instead of drilling in the ANWR or adding a few LNG ports, Bush could open up areas like the Gulf coast of Florida or the Rocky Mountains, which has a 60-year supply of natural gas, to exploration and drilling. But that wouldn't be popular in Florida, where his brother Jeb is governor, or in some of the Western states that are strong Bush country.

The President's failure to propose any meaningful solutions, while claiming to "do the right thing for America" makes it hard not to conclude that the Administration's main goal is not energy independence, but rather improving its standing the polls. Indeed, what's most striking about Bush's Apr. 27 speech is how closely it follows the script written by Luntz earlier this year. A few examples:

• The pollster recommended emphasizing that the nation's energy problem "has been years in the making, and it will take years to solve." On Apr. 27, Bush said: "This problem did not develop overnight, and it's not going to be fixed overnight."

• Luntz wrote that in advocating drilling in the ANWR, the Administration should say that "using modern techniques, only a very small area will actually be impacted by the development." In his speech, Bush echoed that, saying: "Because of the advances in technology, we can reach the oil deposits with almost no impact on land or local wildlife."

• The pollster stressed that Republicans should have a positive message, appealing "to American ideals of invention and innovation" and tapping "into feelings of American exceptionalism and ingenuity to seal the deal with the swing voters." Any surprise, then, that Bush emphasized in his address that "technology has radically changed the way we live and work"? He added: "Our country is on the doorstep of incredible technological advances that will make energy more abundant and more affordable for our citizens."

Stirring words. Americans can only hope the President is right. But the goals of energy efficiency and independence won't be spurred by anything this Administration is currently proposing.

Salt Lake Tribune
The bill includes $14.5 billion in incentives, but the true cost is more than $20 billion because the law includes a tax credit for nuclear power that is worth $6 billion, said Anna Aurilio, Washington, D.C.-based legislative director for U.S. PIRG.

Tax breaks for renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean vehicles totaled $5.3 billion. But the $3.2 billion for renewable energy, an extension of an existing production tax credit mostly geared toward wind energy, now includes subsidies for geothermal, biomass, hydropower and development of coal on Indian tribal lands.

"Obviously coal is not renewable in any sense and hydropower can have [environmental] problems," Aurilio said. And with just 26 percent of the subsidies going toward nontraditional energy, renewables are at a disadvantage, she said.

The bill gives nuclear power $7.3 billion in tax breaks, including a 20-year extension of limits to the nuclear industry's liability in case of an accident.

That's an unacceptable handout for a mature industry, said Salt Lake City activist Jason Groenewold, director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah.

-The bill alters the National Environmental Policy Act to allow the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to take shortcuts when granting permits for oil and gas drilling and essentially cuts the public out of the process, said Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

-The bill also repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, a New Deal reform aimed at protecting consumers from market manipulation, fraud and abuse in the electricity sector.

"Repealing it will now leave electricity customers vulnerable to some of the shenanigans we saw with Enron in California, and it will allow foreign companies to own utilities," said U.S. PIRG's Aurilio.

-Hurwitz also extolled the bill's provisions that enable the federal government to trump states, local governments and communities that have objected to electric transmission lines and liquefied natural gas terminals, which coastal cities have resisted due to safety concerns.

FOX News
"As oil prices reached another new high today, President Bush signs into law an energy policy that his own Department of Energy says actually increases gas prices," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. "This energy policy is yet another example of Republicans catering to corporate special interests at the expense of the public interest."

"Eventually, someone will find some really clever substitute for oil, but I guarantee it won't be the federal government that will do it," National Review editor Rich Lowry told FOX News.

Weekly Standard, 12-1-03
The president and Congress have missed a golden opportunity to do something about our large and increasing dependence on imported oil. Saudi Arabia, our second largest supplier after Canada, is teetering on the brink of chaos; Venezuela, our fourth largest supplier, is in the hands of a Castro sound-alike; Nigeria's production, our fifth most important source of imports, is periodically interrupted; Iraq, if and when it gets back into full production, has promised to rejoin the OPEC cartel that provides over 40 percent of our imports and that is now keeping prices above the growth-retarding $30 per barrel level; Iran's mullahs aren't eager to make it easy for us to buy oil from their large reserves should we ever want to do so; Libya isn't exactly likely to prove a friend in need; Russia is still a minor supplier, with an oil sector that has been destabilized by Vladimir Putin's jailing of one of his nation's "oiligarchs." And China is now a major competitor for any new sources of oil that might become available.

As a result, the American economy remains at risk of oil supply interruptions and price spikes that can stifle economic growth. Ask this: Should a radical terrorist group seek to depose the House of Saud, would we be in any position to stand idly by, or would we once again face the necessity of sending troops to the Middle East, in this case to secure the Saudi oil fields? We would, of course, do the latter. Understandably. But what is less understandable is our politicians' failure to initiate the programs that will in the long run reduce--not end, merely reduce--our dependence on foreign oil.

No comments: