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United States & Canada - August 8

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Changing Lanes
(McCain and energy policy)
Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker
Late last month, Senator John McCain went up with a new television ad, titled “Pump.” The ad begins no place in particular with a gasoline pump, circa 1965. “Gas prices-four dollars, five dollars,” a female narrator intones, as the numbers on the pump’s front panel spin. “No end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America, no to independence from foreign oil.

“Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?” the narrator asks. She leaves the question hanging, while a recording from a recent political rally grows louder and louder. “Obama! Obama!” the crowd screams.

How important is it for candidates to tell the truth?

... If the hard truth is that the federal government can’t do much to lower gas prices, the really hard truth is that it shouldn’t try to. With just five per cent of the world’s population, America accounts for twenty-five per cent of its oil use. This disproportionate consumption is one of the main reasons that the United States-until this year, when China overtook it-was the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. (Every barrel of oil burned adds roughly a thousand pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.) No matter how many warnings about the consequences were issued-by NASA, by the United Nations, by Al Gore, by the Pope-Americans seemed unfazed. Even as the Arctic ice cap visibly melted away, they bought bigger and bigger cars and drove them more and more miles.

The impact of rising fuel prices, by contrast, has been swift and appreciable. According to the latest figures from the Federal Highway Administration, during the first five months of this year Americans drove thirty billion fewer miles than they did during the same period last year. This marks the first time in a generation that vehicle miles in this country have edged downward. All told, undriven trips since the start of 2008 amount to some thirty billion pounds of unreleased CO2. Clearly, the only way to change America’s consumption habits is by making those habits more expensive.
(11 August 2008)
Pointed out by DownSouth at DrumBeat at The Oil Drum. DownSouth comments:

this quote struck me as eminently practical. The only other person I've heard arguing something similar is Matt Simmons, who claims the government should devise a way to put some sort of a floor under oil and gas prices. Again, it seems eminently sensible.



Candidates' energy plans analyzed
(audio)
All Things Considered, National Public Radio
Barack Obama wants to tap into the strategic petroleum reserve to ease gas prices. John McCain wants to allow offshore drilling. The National Journal's Margie Kriz says Obama's plan won't affect oil prices by much, while McCain's offers few near-term benefits.
(5 August 2008)
I thought Margie Kriz's interview was one of the **best things** I've heard on NPR about energy policy. I wish she had been able to talk more.

One slight disagreement. She rightly pointed out that US petroleum independence probably wouldn't make a big difference in the price of gas.

That's true, but there other reasons for trying to become more petroleum independent. For example,

  • to be prepared as oil prices climb even further

  • to avoid the Balance of Payments problem, as we spend more on petroluem
  • for national security. Right now oil is available on the oil markets for whomever can pay. If there is international conflict, that may not be true (e.g. OPEC oil embargo, shutting off oil supplies to Japan in WW2, Russia's ability to cut off natural gas supplies to Europe).

-BA



The true meaning of energy independence

Marc Strassman, Etopia News
Marc Strassman, publisher of Etopia News, defines energy independence as something requiring a lot of renewable energy.
(8 August 2008)
Short self-interview by a regular EB contributor. Marc is a one-man broadcasting network, regularly putting out interviews on renewable energy and other energy issues. Lately he's been covering California energy issues. For example, Will Gonzalez at CAL SEIA on McLeod's feed-in tariff bill

See the link for access to other of his videos. -BA



Paris for President?

Jose Antonio Vargas, Washington Post

Paris for President?

Well, check out her energy policy.

Yep, you read that right. In a two-minute online video posted last night on the comedy site FunnyorDie.com, Paris Hilton announced her candidacy -- thanks to Sen. John McCain's "Celeb" ad comparing Sen. Barack Obama to Paris and Britney Spears -- and boasts an energy policy that should make every screenwriter proud. Though her parents have contributed to the Republican senator, Paris is no McCainiac. (The ad begins with a voice-over referring to McCain as the "oldest celebrity in the world," before cutting to a photo of the senior citizens of "The Golden Girls.") But she's not for Obama, either. True to form, she's all about Paris. She wants pop star Rihanna as her vice president and might paint the White House pink.
(6 August 2008)
Bill at Energy Tech Stocks sees merit in the Paris Energy Plan: Paris Should Invite the Candidates to Meet Privately at Maui Hilton to Discuss Bipartisan Energy Policy.



Great leadership in the face of a cynical power structure

Scott Sklar of The Stella Group Ltd., Renewable Energy World
While we are importing ever more petroleum and natural gas, fighting two wars in the Middle East region, experiencing changes in our global climate -- it's time to acknowledge and support four U.S. leaders who are trying to make a difference. By any means, there are others who deserve our accolades, but these four epitomize the diversity of support and with "true grit". These four have run counter to their contemporaries, not taken seriously when they began their quest for cleaner energy options, but continue to persevere.

T. Boone Pickens has launched his self-financed US $50 million ad campaign. It's very powerful and has run on the national television channels and as full-page ads in national newspapers. You can see it on YouTube. His thesis calls for a massive use of wind and solar that will offset the use of natural gas for electricity - and this natural gas can be shifted to the transportation sector to run vehicles. ...

We have all heard about former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's call for a 100% renewable energy future. Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection estimates that such a conversion to clean electricity would cost up to US $3 trillion over 30 years. ...

Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett from Maryland, has been a strong advocate of domestic energy, renewable energy and efficiency and of Peak Oil. In fact, the Congressman has gone onto the House floor several times, pressing the fact that petroleum is non-renewable - and has spoken to the President face-to-face on the issue. He's the first House member to own a Prius and has solar and small wind on his Frederick, Maryland farm. He's one of two scientists in Congress (he has a PhD in Physiology) and he is a "no nonsense" guy. ...

Representative Jay Inslee, Democratic Congressman from Washington State, coauthored Apollo's Fire: Igniting Americas Clean Energy Economy. According to the Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, "For years, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) has been frustrated with Congress' inability to devise a clean-energy policy, so he decided to do something about it - without markups or bills or committees. He decided to write a book.
(30 July 2008)

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