Bush Administration doing little to treat "addiction to oil"
Bush Administration doing little to treat "addiction to oil"
August 9, 2006
The Bush Administration is doing little to treat America’s “addiction to oil” according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.
In his January 31 State of the Union address, President Bush said it was time to do something about America’s dependence on foreign oil. Rising oil prices and unrest in the Middle East are of growing concern in the United States which leads the world in oil consumption — the vast majority of which comes from overseas, especially the Middle East.
President Bush personally inserted the “addicted to oil” phrase in his speech, knowing it would carry shock value coming from a one-time oilman. “I kind of startled my country when, at my State of the Union, I said we’re hooked on oil and we need to get off oil,” he said during a June 2006 trip to Europe. “That seemed counterintuitive, for some people, to hear a Texan say.”
Nevertheless, The Wall Street Journal says that President Bush is not putting his words into action.
Crude oil imports by country of origin, thousand barrels per day – 2005. Source: DOE/EIA. Click to enlarge.
Graph showing domestic crude production versus crude oil imports, thousand barrels per day – 1920-2005. Source: DOE/EIA. Click to enlarge.
“He isn’t proposing new mandates for ethanol use or new incentives for gasoline stations to stock the fuel,” write John D. McKinnon and Laura Meckler, authors of the article. “He isn’t making tougher auto fuel-economy standards a high priority and doesn’t support a higher gasoline tax.”
Bush critics say that without major new federal initiatives, the president will not be able to achieve his stated goals. Supporters counter that by giving ethanol high-profile visibility and funding new research into renewable energy sources, President Bush is well on the way to transforming the American energy landscape.
McKinnon and Meckler argue that there mixed signals the president’s research funding, noting “Mr. Bush’s budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 seeks less than $500 million in federal spending on research for the major alternative-fuel technologies, including cellulosic ethanol. That’s less than Americans spend each day on gasoline, by some measures. The administration says its proposed spending for clean-energy research overall represents a 22% increase.”
McKinnon and Meckler say that a November trip to Brazil sparked the president’s enthusiasm for ethanol but has yet to lead to any mandates for installing ethanol-capable pumps at gas stations. Bush did call on American automakers to talk about expanding ethanol use in the U.S.
Cellulosic ethanol fuels environmental concerns In recent months, high fuel prices and national security concerns have sparked interest in biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol, which can be derived from virtually any plant matter including farm waste, looks particularly promising. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that cellulosic conversion technology could reduce the cost of producing ethanol by as much as 60 cents per gallon by 2015. Green groups see cellulosic ethanol as a carbon neutral energy source that could be used to fight the build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide responsible for global warming.
High oil prices fuel bioenergy push High oil prices and growing concerns over climate change are driving investment and innovation in the biofuels sector as countries and industry increasingly look towards renewable bioenergy to replace fossil fuels. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, has recently invested $84 million in an American ethanol company, while global energy gluttons ranging from the United States to China are setting long-term targets for the switch to such fuels potentially offering a secure domestic source of renewable energy and fewer environmental headaches.
American cars heavier, less fuel efficient in 2006 than 1986 finds EPA EPA takes a noteworthy stance on both climate change and energy security linking both to fuel efficiency. Despite record nominal gas prices, American automakers continue to make cars that are less fuel efficient than 20 years ago according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). American consumers continue to purchase gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and other light trucks at a steady rate.
US House deals blow to bioenergy market In a set back to the growing biofuels market and American energy consumers, House Majority Leader John Boehner said Monday he will not push legislation to reduce the U.S. tariff on ethanol imports. Thus, the United States will keep its 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on imported ethanol despite a warning from the Department of Energy that domestic ethanol supplies will fall short this summer and will need to reply on foreign fuel.
Corn waste potentially useful for more than ethanol After the corn harvest, whether for cattle feed or corn on the cob, farmers usually leave the stalks and stems in the field, but now, a team of Penn State researchers think corn stover can be used not only to manufacture ethanol, but to generate electricity directly.
Ethanol more energy-efficient than oil, finds study Using ethanol — alcohol produced from corn or other plants — instead of gasoline is more energy-efficient than oil say researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. In a study published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, Berkeley scientists show that producing ethanol from corn uses much less petroleum than producing gasoline, though they concede that there is still great uncertainty about greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental effects like soil erosion. Nevertheless the research suggests that at minimum, ethanol is a good substitute for gasoline and thus can help lessen the country’s reliance on imported oil. The study undermines critics who say that the push for ethanol is based solely on intense lobbying by the farm industry.
This article used quotes and information from “Bush Eschews Harsh Medicine In Treating U.S. Oil ‘Addiction'” by John D. McKinnon and Laura Meckler. The article appeared in the August 9, 2006 issue of The Wall Street Journal.