Thursday, March 31, 2011

Energy Policy: Obama Gets A "D" Which Might Not Be As bad As A Solid Republican "F" But Still Won't Save The Country


The headlines in the dumb-and-dumber mass media are that Obama wants to reduce oil imports. But his essentially conservative/don't rock the boat approach is pretty much what the Republicans want with a itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny patina of the kind of change the country either accepts or goes down to disaster. His "plan" to reduce foreign oil imports calls for increasing domestic production of coal and oil, encouraging conservation and fuel efficiency in autos (36 mpg by 2016), and shifting to natural gas (see video above) and biofuels.

Obama's been a supporter of off shore drilling and taxpayer-subsidized nuclear pants. His "new" policy calls for requiring utilities to buy 80% of their power from what he calls "cleaner" sources: wind power, solar, "clean" coal (which doesn't exist except as propaganda), nuclear energy (and idea that just toppled a state government in Germany that has been held by the conservatives since the demise of Hitler, but voted for anti-nuclear Greens last Sunday). Clear, bold leadership and a national consensus (with the bought-out/sold-out Party of No) is not a big part of the mix.

The savvy blog, Get Energy Smart! NOW! makes the point that Obama has turned "energy dumb" and that his policies are "politically tone deaf." He needs to look to Germany on both levels-- to see a nation striving towards a green future based on renewables, as well as for the political lessons to be learned-- quickly-- about Baden-Württemberg and the political demise of nuclear energy booster state premier Stefan Mappus (and the impending doom of Angela Merkel, largely due to following policies along the same lines-- although not even as bad-- as the ones Obama was espousing at his Georgetown speech). Merkel, at least, isn't embracing the suicidal corporate/conservative "Drill, Baby, Drill" template... as Obama has.

Nearly absent from the president's energy agenda was the electric car... remember that? Plus several other means for actually reducing America's dependence on toxic oil imports (and the wars inherent in them):
* A Steel Interstate of Electrified Rail (with moving significant cargo off trucks onto electrified rail), high-speed rail, and various electrified public transit (subways, trams, etc);

* Greenways (and bicycles) and other ‘local’ individual transportation options;

* ‘Location efficiency’ in mortgage financing and other ’smart growth’ paths forward;

* Home heating oil efficiency;

* Requirement for a flex-fuel standard for all future light-duty vehicles;

* Telecommuting, alternative work schedules, and other paths to enhance the work experience for a good portion of Americans while cutting oil demand.

Oh-- and bold leadership and a commitment to that change thing. Obama seems more interested in an empty, venal bipartisan suicide pact than in leading the country towards making the painful lifestyle choices that could save the country from taking a major tumble.

RELATED-- In Case You Don't Feel Energy Policy Is "Political"

Our old friend, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) sent his list this yesterday:
Dear Friend:

In case you haven’t gotten the call yourself already, here’s the script for a recorded call going to voters here:

“Hello. I’m calling from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Feeling the pain at the pump every time you fill up your tank? Well you should know that your congressman Brad Miller is supporting policies that could raise gas prices even more. Miller is still detached from the realities of all families in North Carolina forced to pay more than $3.50 a gallon. Miller has been in Washington supporting big government policies that lead to higher gas prices and restrain the production of American-made energy. Call Miller today and tell him you’re paying too much at the pump. This call was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Thank you.”

Now here’s what it really means: the oil and gas industry does not own me lock, stock and barrel the way they own Republicans in Congress.

According to, the oil and gas industry has given $238.7 million in federal campaign contributions in the last 20 years. Seventy-five percent of that was to Republicans.

The truth is that we have two percent of the world’s oil reserves and we’re using a quarter of the world’s oil supply. We have proven reserves of 22.3 billion barrels of oil. We are consuming 6.0 billion barrels a year.

We’ve known for more than a generation that there would eventually be hell to pay for our dependence on foreign oil. But instead of investing in research on alternative sources of energy and energy efficient technologies, Republicans in Congress have made oil company profits their first priority.

So now we import two-thirds of the oil we use and we have to snuggle up to some of the world’s most brutal and corrupt dictators.

Yes, I support environmental protection and safety rules for the production of American-made energy. Have Republicans not heard about the stricken nuclear power plant in Japan? Have they already forgotten about the Gulf oil spill?

But according to the Bush Administration’s Department of Energy, opening our entire continental shelf to oil drilling without regard to any environmental concern would not lower the price at the pump at all.

No amount of chanting “drill, baby, drill” is going to change all that. We don’t need cheap, childish sound bites. As lead Democrat on the Science Committee’s Energy and Environment subcommittee, I will fight for a real energy policy.

But here’s what else the recorded call means: I need your help right now to fight off this attack and the even more preposterous attacks that are coming. The political gurus disagree about what arguments are persuasive to voters, but I can tell you for sure what arguments are not: the ones they never hear.

If you'd like to help Brad out, you can do it through ActBlue.

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