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Politics & economics - Feb 4

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Bush's Goals on Energy Quickly Find Obstacles

Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times
The energy proposals set out on Tuesday by President Bush quickly ran into obstacles on Wednesday, showing how difficult it will be to take even the limited steps he supports to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil.

On the day after he declared in his State of the Union address that the United States was "addicted to oil" and had to wean itself from a century-old habit, Mr. Bush drew some support for putting the issue more prominently on the agenda but also skepticism about how achievable his goals really were.

...Politically, both parties on Capitol Hill displayed a lack of enthusiasm. Democrats said Mr. Bush had opposed foreign oil reduction targets in last year's energy bill, and Republicans questioned the practicality of relying on ethanol and other alternatives.

Scientifically, researchers said ethanol and other alternative fuels were still years away from widespread commercial use.
(2 February 2006)
One begins to see what Presidents Bush and Carter were up against.


Feeding the Oil Addiction

Editorial, Washington Post
America IS addicted to oil." It was a catchy line in President Bush's State of the Union speech. But in truth, few administrations have done more to feed America's oil addiction than this one -- and the same can be said for this Republican Congress.

...We are glad if Mr. Bush has changed his mind: This nation's increasing reliance on oil and gas poses economic, geopolitical and environmental dangers to the country. But we find it odd, given his environmental advisers' repeated insistence that he cares so much about it, that the president dwelled only on the two former dangers Tuesday night and ignored the link between America's oil addiction and the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. And we find it odder that it has taken five years for this president to notice that oil money funds anti-American regimes, that a dramatic price rise could quickly put this nation into recession and that the status quo energy policy long promoted by his administration and his party will not suffice.
(3 February 2006)
Related:
Bush's bold energy initiative short on funding (SF Chronicle)
Energy: More is needed to reduce oil dependence (Eugene Register-Guard) "As any junky will attest, the first step to recovery is acknowledging addiction."


UK oil contract threat to US energy prices-senator

Reuters
A plan by Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) to list West Texas crude futures in London could give foreign traders too much sway over U.S. energy prices and leave U.S. regulators powerless to intervene, a U.S. senator and rival exchange warned. ... U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and the NYMEX wrote to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission pointing out the ICE contract would leave U.S. regulators without oversight of a U.S. energy contract.

"Given the great importance of U.S. crude oil products to every facet of the U.S. economy... this issue clearly deserves the attention and engagement of the full Commission," Schumer wrote in the Jan. 26 letter to CFTC Chairman Reuben Jeffrey.
(30 Jan 2006)


OPEC has consensus to cut output in March

Matt Moore, Business Week
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has ruled out any change in production at its meeting this week but has a consensus to cut output in March, oil ministers from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia said Monday.

Saudi Arabia's Ali Naimi, one of the most influential voices in OPEC, said that all 11 OPEC members agreed they will keep the daily output quota unchanged at 28 million barrels when they meet Tuesday.

Asked if they had reached consensus on keeping output steady, he replied: "Yes, we're all in agreement."

Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez said: "There will be no cut at this meeting."

Qatari oil minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said that "all options are open" for the March meeting, while Ramirez said that OPEC had reached a consensus to be ready for a cut.

Their remarks came after a meeting of the group's ministerial monitoring committee, led by Iran, which analyzes market data and makes a policy recommendation to OPEC.

Ramirez also said, however, that he would tell Iran's Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh that Venezuela would side with Iran in its standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

"We support Iran in its nuclear dispute," Ramirez said.
(30 Jan 2006)


The green governor

Edward Helmore, Guardian
Montana's governor didn't need this week's presidential warning over America's dangerous addiction to oil - he was already promoting his state as clean-energy capital ... of the world. Edward Helmore meets the Democrats' rising western star
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...The governor has a plan to reduce the US's dependence on oil, one that may gain momentum after George Bush's state of the union speech earlier this week when the president pledged to cut US imports of oil from the Middle East by 75% over the next two decades, and to break the cycle of an America, in Bush's words,"addicted to oil".

Simply put, the governor's grand plan is to convert Montana's vast coal reserves into clean, almost emission-free liquid fuel, thus ushering his state, and the US itself, into an era of energy self-sufficiency. Schweitzer, a soil scientist who spent much of his professional life, pre-politics, as a specialist on irrigation development in Saudi Arabia, believes the Rocky Mountain front has an unexpected future. "Montana could be the new energy centre of the world," he says with a swagger. "Not only will we create the energy, but we will create the technology so places like China and India who want to join the middle class can do so without destroying the planet."

Even as the administration refuses to acknowledge the reality of global climate change and balks at international environmental accords (last week, Nasa's own climate expert, James Hansen, said he was being muzzled by the White House), Schweitzer has emerged foremost among a number of state governors looking to set and enforce emission reductions.

The governor has introduced aggressive energy conservation measures for householders and small businesses.
(3 February 2006)

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