I must say that I agree with most of what U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman's said in remarks as reported in the referenced article, but they were too short, as mine are usually, to really reflect viewpoint. Our research dollars spent for biofuels and batteries may be in the right direction, but not enough is being spent soon enough and much too much is being spent on hydrogen. I believe that government spending for batteries and biofuels is a pittance and is worth it if it reduces the time until implementation by the smallest amount. I also think we should reduce all subsidies for ethanol production as soon as possible by tying them to the price of gasoline. Corn ethanol subsidies should be phased out as soon as cellulosic ethanol is commercial. Congress needs to appropriate the money for the cellulosic ethanol demonstration plants! I am glad to see that batteries are moving to the forefront, but they are so close to commercialization that I don't know how much government research can be justified. We will need more power plants powered by either coal or nuclear. I prefer coal with sequestration because they can be built faster and the nuclear waste problem is reduced, but a parallel building program may be required. No mention was made of conservation. The greatest amount of conservation occurs with electric vehicles getting their energy from advanced power plants operating at above 60% efficiency. The government has sheparded this development much faster than industry ever would have. Changes in lifestyle and better building insulation standards are very important also. The most immediate impact would be to raise vehicle efficiency standards immediately! But no matter how much conservation is used we will require more power plants. Renewable energy, although important, is not the subject of this discussion because there is no way it can significantly impact our power production in the next 10 years.
He was quoted that he's "surprised" that oil price increases haven't had a greater impact on the U.S. economy and that he is "worried" that the economy will suffer if oil prices stay above current levels. He further stated that "we are going to reach a limit and we will see a real impact of increased oil prices on our economy. Whether its $95 or something north of that I don't know. I can tell you I'm worried about anything above the current levels."
He went on to say that the administrations policy to increase research dollars for bio-fuels, hybrid battery technology and hydrogen fuel has the country on the right track. "But this country has been decades in getting itself into the fix we're in now. And it'll be a significant number of years working our way out of it."
He also called for the approval of the Yucca Mountain project to dispose of our nuclear waste. "This country doesn't need four (nuclear power) plants. We need 14 or we need 24." In order to support this kind of construction "will require Yucca Mountain be built." Bodman said demand for electricity in the U.S. will increase 50% over the next 20-25 years and "the only thing I see meeting that is nuclear power."
US Energy Secretary:Oil Prices Eventually Will Impact Economy, Terry Kosdrosky, Dow Jones Newswire, April 6, 2006