The following are excerpts from President Bush's June 15th remarks to the 16th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum
The primary cause of rising gasoline prices is that the global demand for oil is growing faster than global supply....The first step toward making America less dependent on foreign oil is to improve conservation and efficiency....Hybrid vehicles are one of the most promising technologies immediately available to consumers....I propose that every American who purchases a hybrid vehicle receive a tax credit of up to $4,000....We are also encouraging automakers to produce a new generation of modern, clean-diesel cars and trucks.... Congress should extend the tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid vehicles to clean diesel cars and trucks....the Environmental Protection Agency is working to simplify rules and regulations for refinery expansion....my administration launched an ambitious program called the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The energy bill will authorize additional funds for this vital initiative. With bold investments now, we can begin to replace a hydrocarbon economy with a hydrogen economy....We've got to be aggressive about finding alternative sources of fuel. And one such source is ethanol....I like the idea of spending money on research to make ethanol more feasible....we can get the same type of alternative fuel from soybeans. It's called biodiesel....To encourage greater use of ethanol and biodiesel, my administration supports a flexible, cost-effective renewable fuel standard.... This proposal would require fuel producers to include a certain percentage of ethanol and biodiesel in their fuel. I proposed $84 million in the 2006 budget for ongoing research into advanced technologies that can produce ethanol from farms, forests, or even municipal waste dumps.... the Department of Energy is funding research and development of super-conducting power lines. It's important research because it will enable us to more efficiently move electricity....One day, technologies like solar panels and high-efficiency appliances and advanced insulation could even allow us to build "zero-energy homes" that produce as much energy as they consume....My budget for 2006 brings clean coal funding to $1.6 billion over five years....Congress needs to pass the Clear Skies Initiative....passing it, not only will we clean the environment, but it will result in tens of billions of dollars in clean coal investments by private companies....to further increase our natural gas supply, Congress needs to make clear federal authority to choose sites for new receiving terminals for liquefied natural gas....We need to expand our nation's use of nuclear power....So I've directed the Department of Energy to work with Congress to help pass legislation that will reduce uncertainty in the nuclear plant licensing process....such as federal insurance to protect the builders of the first four new plants against lawsuits, bureaucratic obstacles, and other delays beyond their control.
In general I support these ideas. However (my cynical side), I don't think these remarks have much to do with what actually gets enacted into law. It is good too see that the president acknowledges that demand rather than supply is driving our pending energy shortage. His emphasis on hybrid cars is encouraging. $84 million for research on alternative fuels seems like such a pittance compared to the billions on the hydrogen initiative and the clean coal program. I know that his remarks on coal and nuclear energy will be controversial, but I believe that we have no choice but to go ahead with these programs. The clean coal program, which includes sequestration, is the one sure thing we have to fall back on. The environmental issues associated with coal mining are probably not addressed and could and should be. Building four nuclear power plants (I thought it was to be three) is essential to demonstrate that safer nuclear plants can be built. I personally think that a fuel recycling program should be initiated to take care of our mounting nuclear wastes, rather than using the Yucca Mountain storage scheme. If the hydrogen economy ever becomes a reality (I hope not) our coal reserves will deplete rapidly and nuclear may be our only option. Development of a massive renewable fuels program would be a much wiser use of our tax dollars.