Friday, February 03, 2006

My goal has been to do three to four updates a week on this blog, but the forces of darkness have prevented me this week. My apologies to the readers of this blog. Well, I've got a bunch of material so let's go.


Dear Mr. President,
I didn’t get the chance to listen to your State of the Union address because I was tired and, frankly, I wanted to be entertained for a few minutes. Sorry.

But I did read your address. I did this the day after my gas bill arrived in the mail.

You might not be aware that for those of us in the Northeast, natural gas rates have increased substantially over the last year.

The increase not only affects home and business heating, but also electrical generation since many plants use natural gas to create electricity.

Thank God, this has been a mild winter. If we had a normal winter, the impact of these heating bills would be even more devastating for many people.

And I’m sure you’re aware that for many people there has been a real issue here of how to pay for the increased costs of heating one’s home and business as well as the gas tank of one's vehicle.

How we develop energy and how we use it are overwhelmingly important topics.

I write about this subject because you mentioned energy issues in your address and have spoken about it more in appearances later in the week.

Energy is not a new theme for you, but it is one that has clearly drawn more of your attention in your address over the last three speeches.

In the State of the Union address you delivered in 2004, you said, “Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run – so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

That was it.
Last year, you said, "To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home, including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology – from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough – I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.”

A little more and this statement had more specifics.

This year, you said, “Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

“The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources, and we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative, a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy.

“We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.”

I know that in the coming weeks, you will probably speak more on how you will achieve these goals, but are you aware that we import far less oil from the Middle East than from other parts of the world?

I hope that you are sincere in your statements of changing our nation’s energy policy. The questions that I have include:

• How much are you willing to fight for in terms of funding your initiatives? Considering our deep deficits and needs such as the re-building of the Gulf Coast, how much can we do as a nation?

• Who will lead these initiatives? Scientists? Engineers? Political appointments of such caliber as Michael Brown?

• What has been done since 2001? You mention spending $10 billion, but how has that affected what consumers see? Has anything trickled down to the average working person?

• Would you support tax breaks for businesses and consumers who invest in alternative energy products such as hybrid cars, for instance?

It would be great to get answers to these questions. I’ll include my e-mail.

6 comments:

Josh said...

i really liked the bit about cutting reliance on middle eastern oil, since, you know, only one middle eastern country is among our top five providers (canada, mexico, saudi arabia, nigeria, and venezuela)

James Aach said...

As a longtime energy professional I am continually disappointed that the current government's energy plans do not include a strong focus on conservation. The cheapest, safest energy is that which you leave in nature and don't use. I believe this should be the top priority of any energy program.

If you'd like an insider's view of the world of nuclear power in the US, see my website for my novel "Rad Decision", written with the lay person in mind. There's no cost to readers (who seem to like it, judging by the comments on the homepage). Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog, has stated: "I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read."

SRBissette said...

Conservation is the key energy approach decidedly not a factor in Bush's speeches, past or present. If Americans had never grown addicted to SUVs and inordinately larger vehicles, and stayed with smaller, more economic vehicles, we'd be looking at a very different 2006 than we are.

The ways in which energy costs are impacting upon all strata of our society, including the 'small businesses' and business interests near and dear to this Administration's heart, have been interesting to experience. We've stopped attending some events due to the cold temperatures in many public arenas; a trip to the movies now requires bundling up the way we used to for outdoor high school winter sporting events.

On a local level, we live in southeastern VT, where Entergy's bulldozing of their plan to extend the life of the Yankee Nuclear power plant (which was constructed to go offline and be closed forever by 2005) with an additional 'upgrade' to increase its output 20% (further taxing an already beyond-its-prescribed-lifespan reactor and plant) has been a source of much controversy. The findings released last week that the planned 'upgrade' would also increase the release of radiation 26% above prescribed state safety levels seems not to be deterring progress -- after all, Entergy is based in Louisiana, a looooooong way away from Vernon, VT, so it's no skin of their noses. The fact that 'safe nuclear power' is now top-of-the-list for Bush & Cheney's 'energy plan' and Three Mile Island is blithely past public memory is indicative of how this 'energy plan' has been prepared -- by the corporate foxes guarding the henhouse of public safety.

SRBissette said...

Hey Mike -- what about those dog-people the Prez cited? Huh? What about THAT?

SRBissette said...

Curious if you know anything about yesterday's 'blogimplosion' or experienced it yourself, Mike. I posted to my blog at 6:45 AM yesterday, and four more times after (trying to replace the missing posts) -- and each and every time, after about half an hour, it all vanished! Thanks to the email option in which comments were sent to me, I know others saw my posts and responded (or tried to), and one noted the blog dissolving as he was commenting. Very, very weird. Testing this morning to see if the situation is ongoing or has been remedied -- anything on your end?

shusurvey said...

Dear Sir/Madam:
We are researchers from Shih Hsin University, and we are currently
launching a poll sponsored by UNIDO-ICHET to study public opinions and
attitudes towards hydrogen energy related issues. We are also looking
for feedback related to UNIDO-ICHET's website. We obtained your email
address online or through the assistance of hydrogen energy related
organizations. Would you please logon the URL shown below (you can
logon from UNIDO-ICHET Website and then click 'survey' button to
attend the poll, or directly logon to our questionnaire web pages to
complete the questionnaire). Your answers will produce valuable
information for our researchers and help us to understand many aspects
about the development of new energy technology as well as certain
related social issues.
You may choose either site:
http://www.unido-ichet.org
http://www.ichet.org (UNIDO-ICHET homepage, please log on and click
'for UNIDO-ICHET survey' button)
http://eshop.ereach.com.tw/UNIDO-ICHETsurvey (questionnaire web pages)

We would like to ask you if you know anyone whom you believe would be
suitable to answer this questionnaire. If you do, please help us by
forwarding this mail in order to allow us to be able to call for more
volunteer interviewees to complete this important survey. Thank you.

Project leader: Mavis Tsai, Ph. D. Shih Hsin University
Sponsorship: UNIDO-ICHET (UNITED NATIONS INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT
ORGANIZATION - INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR HYDROGEN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES)

* If you have any questions regarding this survey, please contact the
project leader at the following email address : mtsai@cc.shu.edu.tw