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An Ill Wind: Nuclear in Australia

Big Gav, Peak Energy
Big Gav’s recent collection of links and commentary focuses on nuclear energy in Australa… as did his previous collection, Energy Too Cheap To Meter (As Long As It Gets Enormous Taxpayer Handouts).
(22 May 2006)
Related – a roundup on nuclear in Europe from the Independent: Going nuclear (“A new generation of reactors is suddenly likely. But at what cost? And what will happen to the waste?”)

Brazil leads field in alternative fuel race

Nick Mathiason, The Observer
Ethanol is cheaper than petrol but is not as efficient. Brazilian drivers are canny enough to know that when petrol is at least 30 per cent more expensive than ethanol it pays to fill up the tank on alcohol made from sugar. And they do. Ethanol from sugar has helped transform Brazil’s economy and enabled the 180m-strong Latin American powerhouse to be energy self-sufficient.

Brazil is the world’s alternative fuel pioneer. It started down this road during the Seventies oil crisis. The government provided incentives, the state oil firm installed pumps and it took off. The industry is now subsidy-free – farmers don’t get a penny from the state.

‘If we didn’t have this programme, Brazil would have bankrupted,’ said Professor Suani Coelho, Sao Paulo’s state secretary for the environment. ‘It was an economic issue. Now there are other benefits.’

The lesson is not lost on George Bush. Behind his ambitious goal of cracking the US’s oil addiction are moves to replace 75 per cent of Middle Eastern energy imports with bioethanol – a flammable, colourless, distilled alcohol from oil, corn or grass – by 2025.
(21 May 2006)
Reporting on ethanol still seems to be in the gee-whiz stage; critical thinking about its limitations is still in short supply.

In the U.S., some are calling for an end to tariffs on ethanol, so that our auto system will have cheap fuel and the party can continue:
Corn Laws for the 21st Century (NY Times)
End ethanol subsidies now (LA Times)

Oil Executives March On D.C.
‘We Just Want Our Voices Heard’

The Onion
WASHINGTON, DC-More than 1,000 majority shareholders and executive officers from the nation’s largest oil companies gathered in the National Mall and marched to Capitol Hill Monday in a mass demonstration for petrochemical corporations’ rights and, according to several of those who attended, “to let our voices be heard at last.”

Dozens of the executives, sheikhs, and oil barons who marched to demand an end to their oppression

“We’re American citizens, and we demand to be part of the national dialogue,” said John S. Watson, vice president of international exploration and production for Chevron Corporation, the world’s second-largest oil company. “Many people in our industry think nobody in Washington cares about us, and that our opinions don’t matter. We’re here today to change that.”

Guest speakers, including folk-singing lobbyist Anne Novotny, international drilling-rights activist Bill Marshall, and several Saudi princes, focused on the need to extend subsidies to offshore drilling efforts, grant tax breaks for the construction of new refineries, and stop oppressive environmental regulation.
(17 May 2006)
Satire. -BA

Democrats On Energy: Still a zero

Editorial, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Democrats came to bat on energy policy. Like Casey, they swung mightily and struck out.

The energy legislation they offered last week contained strong elements. The Democratic bill comes closer to putting real solutions into play than did the Republicans’ blind swings for $100 rebates, Arctic drilling and yet-more industry subsidies.

The Democratic plan is not much better; and it is still a zero.

Even in opposition, the Democrats concluded it would be too costly politically to tell Americans that sacrifices will be required. New subsidies for alternative energy, but no mention of additional taxes. A goal for reducing oil imports that sounds good but falls short of real energy independence.

And then there’s the Democratic idea for requiring higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, trucks and SUVS: nothing. That’s not funny. In the best possible light, it’s merely sad.
(21 May 2006)