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Bush expected to stress energy security

H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press
A year after warning America of its addiction to oil,
President Bush is expected to renew concerns about energy security in his State of the Union address. But will the rhetoric be followed by action? Up to now, the record has been mixed.

Aides hint of a major pronouncement on energy in the speech before Congress and the nation Tuesday night. Yet the president is expected to take a predictable path, urging expanded use of ethanol in gasoline, more research into cleaner burning coal and on gas-electric “hybrid” cars, and greater nuclear energy.

He may tweak his voluntary program on climate change. Aides, however, say the president remains opposed to mandatory cuts in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping “greenhouse” gases as has been proposed in Congress.
(22 Jan 2007)

Bush Expected to Make Call for Improved Fuel Economy

Matthew L. Wald, NY Times
There is widespread anticipation, inside government and outside, that President Bush will call for better fuel economy in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The White House has posed questions to the Transportation Department about various options. One idea under consideration, government officials and car company executives who have consulted with the White House say, is to do away with the existing system of fleet averages, as has already happened with light trucks, and set a standard for each vehicle, based on its “footprint,” or distance between the wheels.

…Raising the number from the current 27.5 miles per gallon would cause hundreds more highway deaths each year because automakers would meet the goal by moving to smaller cars, the administration argues. It also says that the system puts an undue burden on companies that specialize in large cars – that is to say, American automakers.

A problem for the Democrats is that, once there is no fleet average, the debate gets murkier because there is no single number to argue over. Simply reforming the system without setting specific goals is “a license for obfuscation,” said Clarence M. Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, which monitors the auto industry and government safety regulators.
(22 Jan 2007)

Post Carbon Institute Energy Experts Available for Pre- and Post-State of the Union Address Comments on Energy

Post Carbon Institute
President Bush is expected to make energy issues a prominent feature of his forthcoming State of the Union speech in which he may relax his 6-year long refusal to deal with global warming.

“Listing the polar bear as an endangered species is a signal that the problem of global warming is finally achieving greater visibility in the White House,” said Julian Darley, Post Carbon Institute President. “Is the President finally ready to ask Americans to get serious about both sides of reducing C02 emissions: tough measures to cut our demand for oil, natural gas, and coal, coupled with a massive expansion of investment in renewable energy sources like wind and solar?”

Post Carbon Institute Fellow Richard Heinberg warned that we should be skeptical about what the president proposes: “Just because the president says some energy source is good doesn’t make it good,” Heinberg said. “For example, a big push for coal-to-oil technologies might eventually reduce petroleum imports, but it would only worsen the problem of global warming. And the nuclear power industry claims there are no CO2 emissions connected with nuclear power, which just isn’t true if you take account of the processes of plant construction and fuel production. We can’t forget the more than 50-year failure to dispose of nuclear waste, and uranium is getting more scarce and expensive. Since all of the energy supply alternatives have problems, we need much more focus on conservation”

Post Carbon Institute is a leading organization in research and public education on the implications of Peak Oil (and natural gas) and higher world oil prices, especially in relation to the related threat of global warming. The organization’s Relocalization Network program hosts a grassroots network of 140 grassroots groups worldwide that work on reducing energy consumption and increasing local production of renewable energy.

Representatives of the Post Carbon Institute are available for comments and reactions to the energy proposals in the State of the Union.
(22 Jan 2007)
For bios and contact information, see original.

Pelosi, Reid discuss upcoming State of the Union, call for commitment on warming
(video & transcript)
Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, E&ETV
With President Bush set to deliver his annual State of the Union address, Democrats are urging action on climate change, energy independence, the war in Iraq and the economy. During today’s E&ETV Event Coverage, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discuss the upcoming State of the Union speech at the National Press Club. Reid urges the expansion of renewables to reduce the effects of global warming. Pelosi calls for bipartisan support with the president on climate change, saying energy independence must be achieved within 10 years.
(22 Jan 2007)

Panelists: Sacrifices necessary with new energy plan

Rebecca K. Quigley, Athens Banner-Herald (Georgia)
President Bush must have the courage to ask the public to make some sacrifices as part of a “bold” energy plan he has promised to present in his State of the Union address this week, a Carter-era adviser said Saturday.

Participants in Saturday morning’s Carter Conference panel on energy, conservation and environment at the University of Georgia revived a theme that they said the past four presidents haven’t spoken of in connection with energy – sacrifice.

“If presidents are going to be really serious about this, they have to do what Carter did … throw caution to the wind,” said Stuart Eizenstat, Carter’s chief domestic affairs adviser.

Eizenstat and former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, a Tennessee Republican, said that Americans will have to sacrifice if they want to reduce their dependence on foreign oil, but the leader of an environmental lobby disagreed, saying that technology is the answer.

Carter made huge political sacrifices as “the first and last president to make energy a central issue of his presidency,” Eizenstat said. “We sacrificed, in part, a second term.”

Carter pushed legislation that phased out leaded gasoline, despite American oil refiners’ attempts to stall the legislation that they said would hurt their ability to deliver sufficient amounts of gasoline to the market.

Carter also led efforts to increase fuel efficiency standards and deregulated oil, natural gas and other energy and utility industries.

Subsequent presidents have not had the political courage to take on the country’s continuing energy crisis “because it is so divisive,” Eizenstat said.
(21 Jan 2007)