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Bush: America Must ‘Get Off Oil’
Associated Press
President Bush says America’s dependency on oil threatens the economy and puts the country at a security risk.
(5 March 2008)
Related from Detroit News: Bush urges electric vehicles, saying U.S. must ‘get off oil’.

The Bumpy Pathway to an Energy Breakthrough

Marianne Lavelle, US News & World Report (journalist’s blog)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is one of the founders and, one might say, the lion of Congress’s peak oil caucus, a group of lawmakers concerned about the world’s oil supply running out. With leonine intensity, the Maryland Republican took on the Bush administration on its funding priorities for energy research and development.

“Why are we interested in hydrogen?” Bartlett pounced, at a contentious budget hearing by the House Committee on Science and Technology’s subcommittee on energy and environment.

“Hydrogen, like fusion, represents the holy grail out there,” responded Steve Isakowitz, chief financial officer of the Department of Energy. It could hold the keys to reducing dependence on fossil fuels, he said.

“How is it going to do that, since hydrogen is not an energy source?” Bartlett shot back. “We will always use more energy to make hydrogen than we get out of it.”

Isakowitz said it mattered how you produced hydrogen, which is why the administration believed in the development of nuclear power to produce hydrogen.

This solution didn’t satisfy Bartlett.

“Hydrogen is not an energy source,” he said. “It is not a silver bullet. It will not solve our problem. There’s a lot of irrational exuberance in this area.”

We all agree that we need technological breakthroughs on energy, but we disagree deeply on how to spend limited money to get there.

The acrimony is so great that two Department of Energy under secretaries were no-shows at the subcommittee’s session, which should have been a routine budget hearing.
(5 March 2008)
Senior energy writer Marianne Lavelle is on the growing list of peak-oil-aware journalists. -BA

Looking Ahead – Oil

William F. Buckley, National Review
…But here is what we might be facing if oil rose to $100 per barrel.

I quote from [Raymond J. Learsy]. Commuters suddenly forced to pay $2.50 or more for a gallon of gas began to brown-bag their lunches, inching away from restaurants and sandwich shops. Americans who could still afford a vacation went on shorter trips, putting a major dent in the tourist industry. Trucking companies hauling everything from wines and spirits to furniture to automobile parts imposed a hefty surcharge on shippers, who passed it on to their customers, who then passed it further down the line to the retail buyer if they could.

… of course, oil is vital to everything from plastic picnic forks to printer’s ink to asphalt. Manufacturers raised prices across the board, and potholes went unfilled in city streets around the nation. At first, municipal and factory employees lost overtime, then they were laid off or fired outright. Foodstuffs of every kind – from beef in the butcher case to fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle to milk and cheese in the dairy section – reflected the higher costs incurred by growers and shoppers.

Runaway prices on just about everything took the Federal Reserve Board by surprise. Determined to keep interest rates low and dulled by their own assurances that inflation was somnolent, the Federal Reserve’s governors were ill-prepared for the economic crisis. The Fed belatedly boosted interest rates a full 2 percentage points. … Foreclosures and tax-default auctions became common, consumer spending dried up, and soon the entire world was in a recession.

The rise in oil prices is not a fancy of Ray Learsy, and the unpredictability of that rise manifestly requires self-protection.
(12 August, 2005)
A prescient column on the effects of $100 oil from conservative writer William F. Buckley, who passed away February 27.

Whatever his political beliefs, he was widely recognized as a gentleman: personally gracious and generous. It’s fitting that some of the most moving tributes have come from political opponents:
Why William F. Buckley Was My Role Model (Rick Perlstein)
Peanut Butter and Buckley (The Messenger Post)