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United States & Canada - July 9

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Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens wants to supplant oil with wind

Dan Reed, USA TODAY
Get ready, America, T. Boone Pickens is coming to your living room.

The legendary Texas oilman, corporate raider, shareholder-rights crusader, philanthropist and deep-pocketed moneyman for conservative politicians and causes, wants to drive the USA's political and economic agenda.

"We're paying $700 billion a year for foreign oil. It's breaking us as a nation, and I want to elevate that question to the presidential debate, to make it the No. 1 issue of the campaign this year," Pickens says.

Today, Pickens will take the wraps off what he's calling the Pickens Plan for cutting the USA's demand for foreign oil by more than a third in less than a decade. To promote it, he is bankrolling what his aides say will be the biggest public policy ad campaign ever.
(8 July 2008)
Meadowlark writes:
Please help people understand that the Pickens Plan is NOT a solution to our energy problems. It is a "keep using oil, everything is fine" plan. Sigh. We're screwed.

Related:
Pickens' Plan(U.S. News & World Report)
Memo to T. Boone Pickens by Joseph Romm at Gristmill
Pickens says gas and wind would slash oil imports (Reuters)
Pickens promotes his plan to get off foreign oil (Dallas Morning News)



Is it safe now to admit Jimmy Carter was right?

Joseph Wheelan, History News Network (HNN)
... Americans, who hate to be told they must change, roundly condemned Jimmy Carter’s memorable “Crisis of Confidence” speech of July 15, 1979. In it, Carter outlined a program for achieving energy independence: “On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.”

We admirers have long endured ridicule whenever we dared to defend Carter’s prescient plan for reducing U.S. dependence on oil.

But today, after all the abuse and scorn heaped on Jimmy Carter and his supporters, we find ourselves paying more than $4 a gallon at the pump to fill our hulking gas guzzlers.

It turns out that Carter was right after all.

He was right in seeking to raise the fleet auto mileage standard to 48 miles per gallon by 1995. (Even U.S. automakers admitted at the time that they could easily achieve 30 mph by 1985.)

Jimmy Carter was right in exhorting Americans to turn down their thermostats, even if he did look nerdy in a cardigan while urging us to do so.

Mr. Wheelan is the author of four books on American presidents and American history, the most recent published in January, Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams's Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress.
(7 July 2008)



Oilsands image fight targets U.S. politicians

Jason Fekete, Calgary Herald
Alberta has launched a full-court press on U.S. lawmakers -- including camps of the two presidential candidates -- to sell the importance and sustainability of the oilsands before the province is backed into a corner.

Premier Ed Stelmach met Monday, following his annual Stampede breakfast, with U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins to work on having more American delegations visit Alberta and the oilsands.

The government hopes that targeting U.S. congressmen from both the Democrats and Republicans -- along with its ongoing multimillion-dollar public relations campaign -- will slay what it insists are misconceptions of Alberta's so-called "dirty oil."
(8 July 2008)
Also at Common Dreams.



Labour's plan for dealing with high energy prices

Canadian Labour Congress via Straight Goods
Working families hit by job losses as well as soaring food and fuel costs.
---
Higher oil and natural gas prices are here to stay. That may be a good thing in terms of helping us move to a more energy-efficient economy and averting catastrophic climate change. But we need a plan to safeguard jobs and the living standards of working families in the transition.

Rather than leave it all to the market, we need to take control of our national energy future and ensure that the costs of higher energy prices are fairly shared.

We need to take control of our national energy future and ensure that the costs of higher energy prices are fairly shared.

High prices for energy, especially gasoline, are clearly now having major negative impacts on the Canadian economy and on our jobs. We have already seen major layoff announcements in the auto sector as sales of SUVs and trucks slump and in the airlines sector as fares begin to soar. Truckers and others who can't easily pass on their costs are being pushed out of business.

... While speculation plays a role, the dramatic increase in the price of oil is still primarily driven by basic supply and demand factors. Demand from developing Asia has been growing fast (partly due to subsidies which cushion them from global prices), as has domestic demand within many major oil producing developing countries where prices are kept deliberately low. China has just significantly hiked domestic oil prices. But generally, most economists think that demand falls only slowly in response to higher prices. This has been the case in Canada, at least until very recently, because most energy use cannot be easily reduced in the short-term.

Meanwhile, world oil supplies do seem to be very tight. Even if we do not buy into the most pessimistic scenarios of 'peak oil', cheap conventional oil supply is running down quite rapidly, and it takes a long time to develop and bring to market non-conventional supplies such as oil from the tar sands, deep offshore wells, etc. In other words, high world oil prices are likely here to stay.
(7 July 2008)



Ex-EPA aide tells of White House censorship

Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle
Democrats have long alleged that Vice President Dick Cheney played a key backstage role in thwarting U.S. efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but they have had little evidence. Until now.

Jason Burnett, a senior official with the Environmental Protection Agency who resigned June 9, charges that Cheney's office urged him to delete or water down testimony to Congress by top administration officials on the impacts of global warming.

Burnett also said the White House blocked an effort by the EPA to issue an endangerment finding, a conclusion that climate change is a threat to the public. Under a Supreme Court ruling last year, the finding would have forced the administration to cut emissions.
(9 July 2008)



In energy, there are no easy answers

Lisa Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle
... "America's dependence on foreign oil threatens our safety and prosperity," read white words on a black screen. "We need American energy solutions."

When the viewer's patriotic instincts are sufficiently primed, the so-called energy declaration of independence is announced: "Drill here. Drill now. Pay less."

It's all a part of an effort by Gingrich's political action organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, which says it's searching for nonpartisan solutions to the nation's problems.

With mounting gas prices, Gingrich's movement seems to represent the sentiments of a quickly growing legion of Americans, old and young, male and female, folks from big cities to little South Texas towns, who have come to consider drilling, and other methods of increasing energy supplies, more important than conservation.

... So, who's right? Could the answer be as simple as the portable potty prophecy? The short answer is no, according to the three experts I talked to. And also, yes.

While the goal of America achieving energy independence is steeped in romantic idealism, experts at Rice University and the University of Houston agreed that expanding domestic drilling is a must.

"Drilling now" is also a fantasy since it would take years to gear up production. And "paying less," in the form of real, substantial relief at the pump, would take even longer.
(7 July 2008)
Article has a great lead -- the writer goes into a porta-potty and finds a sign touting Gingrich's organization. -BA

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