March 7, 2008
I do not usually spring to the defence of President Bush, and I am not able to assess how much of what he says is reality and how much rhetoric (a common problem in politics). However, he is entitled to be heard. On Wednesday morning he spoke at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference 2008. I’ve so far failed to find European press reports on this speech.
His message was that America must change its habits. “We’ve got to get off oil”. Unless this happens, there is going to be more dependency on oil. Apart from the economic, political and security risks to be avoided, dependence on fossil fuels like oil presents a challenge to our environment.
A few extracts from his speech:
- US dependence on oil must be reduced by investing in clean and renewable energy technologies.
The federal government has since 2001 spent more than $12bn to research, develop and promote alternative energy sources. The private sector is also substantially investing.
- US strategy is twofold: to change the way cars are driven and businesses and homes powered.
The US goal is to reduce gasoline consumption by 20% over the next 10 years (20-10).
The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act specifies a national mandatory fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
- It also makes it mandatory for fuel producers to supply at least 36bn gallons of renewable fuel by the year 2022.
- Ethanol production has quadrupled from 1.6bn gallons in 2000 to over 6.4bn gallons in 2007. The US became the world’s leading ethanol producer in 2005.
- The Department of Energy has dedicated nearly $1bn to develop technologies that can make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive.
- Tax incentives are provided to promote the sale of hybrid vehicles. The US is also investing in plug-in hybrids.
This administration is a strong supporter of hydrogen and spent about $1.2bn in research and development to bring vehicles running on hydrogen to the market.
- In December 2007, the US Air Force flew a C-17 from Washington state to New Jersey on a blend of regular and synthetic fuels.
- Nuclear power must be promoted and nuclear power plants built. $18.5bn in loan guarantees will be provided by the government.
- Since 2001, America has increased wind energy production by more than 300%. More than 20% of new electrical generating capacity added in America came from wind last year, when more wind power capacity was installed than in any other country in the world.
- Texas produces more wind energy than any other state in the Union. (As governor of Texas, Bush signed a electric deregulation bill that encouraged and mandated the use of renewable energy).
- Since 2001, $1bn has been spent on harnessing the solar power. Last year US solar installations grew by more than 32%.
- The US is serious about confronting climate change, and the foregoing strategies are an integral part of dealing with it.
- There should be effective international agreements, including solid commitments, by every major economy.
- There ought to be an international clean technology fund from the wealthy nations to help poorer nations clean up their environments. Congress is called upon to commit $2bn to the fund.
- Tariffs and other trade barriers must be eliminated to enable clean technologies to move duty-free around the world.
- The US has bilateral partnerships – eg with Brazil on biofuels, China on biomass and to improve energy efficiencies for vehicles and industrial production, and the UK on harnessing sea power.
- We Europeans are very good at making commitments, but not as good at implementing them (Lisbon Agenda, Kyoto Protocol…)
Whether the above encourages you to offer three two or one cheer(s), it may convince you that the US President is not simplistically pro-oil and anti-environment, as we are led to believe.Author : Stanley Crossick