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Bush claiming 'Energy Independence' mantle already

by Jerome a Paris Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 09:01:14 AM EST

Here we go (via an interview of Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, in the Financial Times):



'Energy independence' on Bush agenda

The Bush administration will soon launch a big "energy independence" initiative, likely to include renewed emphasis on biofuels, as part of an attempt to regain the political initiative following the mid-term elections.

(...)

Political analysts say a bold energy initiative could help Mr Bush regain some political momentum, while buttressing Republican support in the farming states of the west and the Midwest, where Democrats made inroads.

This is exactly what needs to be avoided: the topic of energy independence grabbed by the Republicans and Bush, and the focus put exclusively on producing more.




"I actually think from talking to Democrats they have the same concerns we do," Mr Hubbard said. "They are concerned about energy, and recognise that we need to accelerate our efforts to cure our addiction to foreign oil."

He said Mr Bush wanted to ensure there were the right "incentives to invest" in alternative fuels.

The rest of the article discusses various technologies to produce ethanol and other biofuels, which so far seem to be the sole focus of this new initiative.

I find this deeply worrying, for the following reasons:

  • the focus is only, as can be expected from the Republicans, on producing more oil or oil-equivalent. There's no intention to focus on energy efficiency and conservation in any way
  • the focus is essentially on biofuels, which is unrealistic as an energy solution (of course it's smarter politics) and will ony serve to bring more subsidies to energy production, when what is desperately needed is less subsidies, or at least better focused subsidies. The agribusiness is the only sector I can think of where the economics are more distorted than the energy world, so bringing it into the picture can only make things worse, not improve them;

    (On distortions, note these two articles today, on how badly ag. subsidies worsen the world water situation and about Archer Daniels Midland's attempts to barge onto the subsidy teat);
  • by making it appear that the energy crisis can be solved in a painless way for drivers, this perpetuates the impossibility to bring about real policy changes - those focusing on demand reduction
.

But hey, The Bush administration is in good company. The International Energy Agency, via its newly updated "World Energy Outlook" (its yearly analysis of the energy markets), is essentially suggesting the same solution despite dire and increasingly shrill warnings abotu the gravity of the situation:



Reliance on oil 'sets us on path to crisis'

The world is on a course that will lead it "from crisis to crisis" unless governments act immediately to save energy and invest in nuclear and biofuels, the International Energy Agency warned yesterday.

In an apocalyptic forecast, Claude Mandil, the agency's executive director, said that our current path "may mean skyrocketing prices or more frequent blackouts; can mean more supply disruptions, more meteorological catastrophes - or all these at the same time".

The IEA said the oilfields on which Europe and the US had come to depend to reduce their reliance on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would peak in the next five to seven years.

(...)

The three countries on which the world will depend most for its future oil supply, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, are also among its most unstable.

The EIA forecasts on future oil production have already been called full of shit by the CEO of Total, the French oil major (and the fourth largest worldwide after ExxonMobil, BP and Shell), and have been contested by others (including myself - that story is about the EIA, the US DoE body, not the IEA, but both have pretty similar numbers).

Although the IEA focuses, like Bush, exclusively on alternative energy sources (nuclear and biofuels in their case), there is an unescapable reality that we are going to need to reduce our consumption of oil pretty soon that percolates through their report, and that this is most likely to happen through skyrocketing prices if we do not preempt the change.

Biofuels will only provide a small fraction of the needs (at a pretty high cost), and will not be a magic bullet. Focusing on them as a priority is short-sighted and essentially useless.

But in the meantime, the theme of energy becomes a presidential issue, and the Republicans get to set the agenda there.

Display:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/10/83426/197

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 09:13:37 AM EST
Hey George, keep your oily hands off our topic. Anyway, there is no way he could do this correctly...he will screw it up like he has everything else. Worse case scenario? The US gets serious about energy independence...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 09:14:00 AM EST
"Our" topic? While the Democrats fret about appearing radical or unresonable, the Republicans are going to steal the environmental platform.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 04:12:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's all we need: a big right-wing push on bio-fuels as a method of moving subsidies to big corporates which will doubtless be followed by the right here as the correct solution: "It's what the Americans are doing".

Who needs any of the rest of the package, eh? Conservation is for lefties.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 09:19:35 AM EST
It's fine if he uses the terminology as long as there is a real debate about what it means and how it will be implemented.  No more "I'm the Decider."  That's all I worry about.  When they take the words, like "energy independence," and twist them whatever way they want.  What happens is that the US media (MSM) tends to accept whatever message the bushpeople put out and simply repeat it over the free public airwaves.  I just don't want to hear the nightly newspeople say "bushpeople say they got the message and now they will work hard for energy independence.  And here is a photo of mrbush on the energy independence express with a "mission accomplished" sign over his head."  That is what I'm afraid of!

Resist.  The repudiation must continue.

by jjellin on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 09:45:24 AM EST
... the Democrats to create "official" news.

Crossposted from dKos comment on this article:

Yes, and the Democratic noise machine ...
.. fed with constant inputs from the Congressional Energy Independence Commission hearings {1}, have to get the simple idea out that window dressing the present system means higher prices.

{1 NB. Not Yet Established ... just giving an example what the Replicants would do if they wanted to move in that direction}


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 11:13:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can blame Bush, but this is a bipartisan scam. The Dems in the farm states are promoting this nonsense too.

Just realize that from this day forward everything that is said and done in the US is with an eye towards the 2008 elections. The Dems need to get some items passed that they can point to as accomplishments over the next two years, while the Repubs need to appear to still be in control of the agenda.

Jerome, you should have learned that the entire US population is in a state of denial from your posting about raising a gas tax the other day. Nothing meaningful will happen until we have the "Katrina" of fuel supplies, whatever this will turn out to be.

Keep pointing out the folly of the proposals, however.

Is there any reason that the EU can't take the lead on "energy independence" internally? Reforming the energy equation would give Europe a competitive edge over other areas as the cost of energy goes up and spills into every other sector from manufacturing to farming. Having already made the transition to sustainable use Europe's costs would be lower and thus their exports more competitive.

Perhaps a diary on what steps are needed in Europe?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 10:20:45 AM EST
Is there any reason that the EU can't take the lead on "energy independence" internally? Reforming the energy equation would give Europe a competitive edge over other areas as the cost of energy goes up and spills into every other sector from manufacturing to farming.

Yes, yes, exactly. There will be no hope of improvement from the States, but just sitting here waiting for them to take a lead is simply pathetic.

We can work towards our own version of "Energy Independence". I think we are pushing at an open door on this one as the recent issues over gas suppplies (real or contrived) have made the European political establishment wary of single source suppliers.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 10:32:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is hope of improvement from the US (no certainty, but hope), but it sure would help to have a bigger "Energy Independence Gap" to point to.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 11:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Ag subsidies are indeed a bipartisan scam (we should know, it's mostly the same over here). That's why I'm so worried to see that this might be the only concrete thing to happen (for public discussion purposes anyway) on the energy front.

  2. 2008: are you telling me that it's already too late to speak about policy because it could threaten chances of victory? ;-)

  3. Europe. The task at hand is just as gruesome, and I'm still not sure how to get it started. But yes, your suggestion makes sense.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 10:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
2008: are you telling me that it's already too late to speak about policy because it could threaten chances of victory? ;-)

No what I'm saying is that no politician will say anything of substance over the next two years (especially if it implies taxes or sacrifice). There is no reason why the blogosphere can't keep the issue moving forward. There have been successful grassroots movements in the past (like the 40 hour work week), just not recently (in the US).

Why can't all of you based in Europe put together proposals similar to the effort you did for the US? The first step might be an energy inventory. For example what are the actual amounts of energy that could be generated from existing technologies if they were fully implemented?

How much wind, tide, solar, coal, nuclear, etc. is realistic over, say, the next 20-30 years? How much energy use will there be given current trends, and how much could conservation change this?

Even if the answers turn out to be unpleasant, it is better to face them now and start to adjust goals than to just throw up one's hands at the size of the problems.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 11:32:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Energy policy is vital, and hence absolutely not an EU issue but a national one. On top of that it is a highly emotional issue (Austria: NO NUKES!, France: ONLY NUKES!). Furthermore, many EU states have completely opposite national energy interest. Just compare the position of Poland and Sweden versus Germany and France on the Nord Stream (Baltic sea) gas pipeline.

Another problem is that all EU commission energy policy has the sole effect of making everything worse by implementing purely ideologic neoliberal contraproductive policies.

So leave energy issues to the Member States. Those who have succesful policies will be role models for the others to follow.

Of course, volontary cooperation is a great idea. That's what EURATOM is for.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 02:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another problem is that all EU commission energy policy has the sole effect of making everything worse by implementing purely ideologic neoliberal contraproductive policies.

So leave energy issues to the Member States. Those who have succesful policies will be role models for the others to follow.

There will be an EU energy policy, so you're better off trying to steer the process of adopting one than dismissing it off-hand on the asusmption that Sweden is going to be allowed to develop ts national model and serve as a role model to the rest.

Most of our economy/finance ministers are neoliberals anyway.

The EU's Energy White paper is expected in December. We'll see how much neoliberal nonsense there is in it, and how much resistance national governments put up.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 04:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the dreaded "s" word.

First a bunch of foreign policy stuff on the "we're better than that" theme, including a good helping of feel good stuff to convince the folks assembled that there was this time that America did all this good stuff and we have to go back to that. And then,

6:00 to 7:01. John Edwards NH AFL-CIO, American Labor Day

"... If you say that we can solve this problem with just that, its not the truth ... and we know its not the truth. Its time to call on America to be patriotic about something more than war. We ought to ask the American people to sacrifice for the good of their country, for the good of their children and their grandchildren. We can't continue to drive around in vehicles that get 10 miles to the gallon [4.2 km/litre]. We can't continue to consume energy, the way we are today.

And we, our party, we need to tell the country the truth about this, and lead it in a different direction."

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 11th, 2006 at 03:52:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So will they recognize on DKos that you were right to say the Dems needed to take the lead on energy?

Or will those who said: before the elections is not the moment! and those who said: the Dems just won a mandate from the people, they can't change policy now, it's too late! now say: the fact that Bush is picking this up proves the Dems were right not to... ?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 10:42:11 AM EST
The "mandate" claim falls down on the fact that Energy Independence was part of Six for '06. Certainly in the House there are a number of newly elected Representatives that ran on it. And since it is a wedge issue for the radical right coalition, its a strong partisan advantage for the Democrats if they can portray the Republicans as proposing meaningless window dressing to disguise welfare for the rich.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 11:18:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but the "mandate" claim was on DKos the other day in Jerome's gas tax diary...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 12:19:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lots of nonsense that doesn't stand close scrutiny is posed on dKos. The Democrats get to claim a mandate for the plan they announced before the election, and the more stink the Republicans raise about it, the more it publicizes the Six in '06 plan, and the more it undermines the pre-election talking point that the Democrats had no plan.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 01:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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