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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Finally, proof that Bush isn't a complete and utter fuckup

Instead, he's only mostly a fuckup who best serves the country when he leaves most of the actual thinking to people who are competent to handle their respective fields. Nevertheless, he does occasionally get something right. Even random chance would necessitate such occurrences. So, I submit for your approval one such instance, an instance where he actually shows thought about what's good for the environment and the nation. A Yahoo group whose digests I read, the California Cars Initiative, brought this to my attention. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they're an advocacy group for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV's), a concept that is far more fuel-efficient than even current mass-production hybrids. As a side-note, even transcribed, the President sounds like a moron. Still, I remain very unconvinced that his opponents in 2000 and 2004 would have been any better, and suspect they would've been even worse. Anyway, here's the link and the relevant section of his speech:

"I know it shocks some of you to hear a Texan say that we're addicted to oil -- (laughter) -- and we are. And that's a problem. In order to make sure this nation remains competitive, in order to make sure we're the leader of the world, I look forward to working with the members of the United States Congress here to pass the Advanced Energy Initiative.

"Last year, thanks to the leadership of the Speaker, I was able to sign a comprehensive energy bill. There is more work to be done. We're going to harness technology to make sure the automobiles you drive consume less oil. We believe in plug-in hybrid batteries. It's the wave of the future. We believe in the use of ethanol. I love the fact that when our farmers are growing crops it makes us less dependent on oil from the Middle East. (Applause.)

"Ours is a party that knows you got to challenge the status quo when it comes to energy. In order to make sure this country is less dependent on fossil fuels, we must promote safe and sound nuclear power. We must promote solar energy and clean coal technology and wind energy. Ours is the party that can see into the future. We don't fear it, we welcome it, because we intend to continue to lead. (Applause.)"

For those of you unfamiliar with the Advanced Energy Initiative, it was outlined in the State of the Union address, and again, is a surprisingly intelligent idea from a man who is decidedly... not. Some of you of a more blue-state persuasion may be surprised by what you read.


Snave said...

I think an Alaska Gas Pipeline sounds good, as long as it's actually from Prudhoe. I don't think building or expanding refineries will help decrease our dependency on oil at all, but it might ease things a bit as the country makes the transition away from fossil fuels. I don't believe we need to be doing any more drilling at this point... maybe on the OCS. When the POTUS and his friends use terms like "Clean Skies", it just reminds me too much of the people who rape the environment saying they support "Wise Use". Being a blue-state type, I tend to view most of what Bush says and does with a high degree of skepticism, but I have to admit he is at least addressing some of the problems.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Well, me being a rabid independent with an ulcer, I tend to first check what Bush says for intelligence, and if it passes that test, then just hope that he doesn't fuck it up.

That said, I think biodiesel and ethanol technologies are very promising, and in the case of biodiesel, requires little or no effort to convert existing vehicles to that fuel. I like the fact that those fuels are renewable, and that plants will use more carbon dioxide than the burning of those fuels will emit. Furthermore, I adore the increased energy independence biofuels, combined with enhancing hybrid technology, will provide.

I don't think drastically-increased regulation is the way to go. In psychological terms, I think positive reinforcement is a wiser course of action, and that should be in the form of providing real fiscal incentives to companies to do the basic research into developing the various technologies. Where there's money, there's usually someone, or more often, several someones to chase it.

Snave said...

I definitely agree that with the way things are set up in America, making money off whatever is developed is of high importance. The more that is possible, the more people are likely to put out the effort to change things.

I'm for some tighter regulations, but like with a lot of things that involve change, I think it needs to be gradual. The instant gratification approach works occasionally, but not with matters which affect millions of people and the U.S. economy to such a high degree. Regulations that would phase in over a period of 20+ years might not be bad. Ones that would be immediate, as I believe you suggest, might seem negative and in fact punitive. Our society isn't going to change its energy habits overnight, and the more draconian the proposals get, the more people might tend to resist.

The biodiesel and ethanol technologies are indeed promising. Having to convert millions of vehicles to new fuel systems would be extremely problematic. If ethanol requires little or no conversion of the engines we currently use, it seems as if development of ethanol should be a high priority.

Last time I forgot to say "thanks" for the link. It's interesting to see that ALL is not lost on the energy front. It truly looks like Bush is paying more than just lip service to the idea of decreasing US dependency on foreign oil and on oil in general. I don't trust him and his friends, but there is a degree of common sense in the AEI. Did I just say that? Heh!

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Well, from what I understand, the ethanol conversion is a smidge more complicated than the diesel to biodiesel conversion, but not prohibitively so and not by much. Also, an increasing number of automobile manufacturers are making their cars compatible with B85 gasoline (85%ethanol, 15% gasoline), another huge plus.

1138 said...

The approved 'energy plan' gives billions in tax breaks to energy companies for trivial, non effective things like adding castor oil to coal.
It doesn't make it burn cleaner, with more energy or even safer - but what it does do is qualify it through careful wording in the laws as 'exotic'.