Bush State of the Union: getting religion on energy?
Here's one potential big deal in the president's State of the Union speech: A Nixon-goes-to-China on energy issues.
A senior White House aide I spoke to over the weekend says the president will focus on new energy technologies, which means alternatives to oil production. The aide cited a Fortune article touting energy alternatives. He also noted how Richard Rainwater, once Bush's Texas Rangers' partner, now champions the peak-oil theory. That's the line of thought that says the world's hit its top production capacity for oil. From here on out, oil's downhill.
I haven't had time to run down Rainwater's beliefs, but, if this is true, that's a huge shift. Rainwater had bet heavily on oil when it was selling at low prices. He looked crazy, but he was considering how demand was growing in China and the Far East. It turns out he was right, which makes his voice on peak oil particularly significant.
It will be even more big-time if Bush starts getting religion on energy alternatives. A Texas oilman who gets behind them could outdo a red-baiter like Nixon going to Peking.
Among those paying very close attention to the president's State of the Union address tonight will be folks from every sector of the energy industry, eager to hear what the petroleum president has to say about alternative energy. Yes, you read that right. President Bush -- former oil man, son of an oil man, coached by the former chief executive of Halliburton (Research) – will hold forth Tuesday night on why America needs to be doing a better job of promoting renewable fuels.Fortune waxes enthusiastic about ethanol in its current issue. Many other publications are carrying the story of Bush and alternate energy (list from GoogleNews), including The Guardian. It should be interesting to see what President Bush does tonight. UPDATE: Jeff from Texas says:
The back story is that Jim Kunstler may have influenced the State of the Union speech. Rainwater became concerned about Peak Oil after reading JK's book. Bush respects Rainwater. We'll see what Bush says.For more on the Kunstler-Rainwater-Bush connections, see The Rainwater Prophecy UPDATE #2 In a January 27th interview with CBS, President Bush gives an indication of what he may say about energy in the State of the Union:
SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about energy independence. We remain, any way you cut it, dependent on foreign oil. I know you want to open up the Arctic wildlife preserve for drilling, but aren't we going to have to do more than that? And I just want to bring up one thing. Tom Friedman, the columnist in the New York Times, had a column today, and he said putting on a huge gas tax is the only way to really get Detroit's attention and get them to making other kinds of cars, and he said the only way to cause people to change their ways. He says you have to change the culture. What's your reaction to that? PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, I'm against a huge gas tax. Secondly, I agree with Mr. Friedman that we have got to become independent from foreign sources of oil. In other words, we have got to wean ourselves off hydrocarbons, oil. And the best way, in my judgment, to do it is to promote and actively advance new technologies so that we can drive--have different driving habits. For example, there is--I'm a little hesitant because I don't want to tell you what's in the State of the Union, let me put it to you that way. SCHIEFFER: You are going to talk about that? PRESIDENT BUSH: Big time, because I agree with Mr. Friedman, and I agree with Americans who understand being hooked on foreign oil as an economic problem and a national security problem. I couldn't agree more with him. For example, I'm convinced with more research we'll be able to develop additional ways to make ethanol. There is about 4.6 million cars in America now that are flex-fuel cars. They could either use regular gasoline or fuel derived from corn. I'd like, for example, to not only advance that technology of deriving fuel from corn, but also deriving fuel from waste materials, and I'm convinced we could do that with a good push, a technological push. In other words, I want to see different kinds of cars on our road that don't require (sic) upon crude oil from overseas, but we have got a serious problem, and now is the time to fix it, and I'm going to address it again at the State of the Union.-BA