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Nate Hagens on BBC Regarding Obama Energy Policy

The Oil Drum
TOD editor Gail Tverberg writes:
Nate Hagens was on BBC-UK regarding Obama’s energy policy yesterday. You can listen at this link. Nate is on, immediately after a recording of President Obama. He starts at about 2:25 into the show, and ends at about 5:53.

In the interview, Nate says what President Obama said was good, but it didn’t go far enough. He eventually needs to get across the idea that we cannot continue to grow facing multiple resource constraints, and that that our current conspicuous consumption paradigm needs to be changed.

Nate suggests we need people to demonstrate by example what changes are needed. The interviewer asks if that means celebrities should buy electric cars. Nate says they should go even further.

This is my recollection. Listen and find out what Nate really said!
(27 January 2009)

Geography Is Dividing Democrats Over Energy

John M. Broder, New York Times
President Obama is moving quickly to act on the environmental promises that were a centerpiece of his campaign. But tackling global warming will be far more difficult — and more costly — than the new emissions standards for automobiles he ordered with the stroke of a pen on Monday.

Already, the Congressional Democrats Mr. Obama will need to carry out his mandate are feuding with one another.

By coincidence or design, most of the policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the administration charged with shaping legislation to address global warming come from California or the East Coast, regions that lead the country in environmental regulation and the push for renewable energy sources.

That is a problem, says a group of Democratic lawmakers from the Midwest and Plains States, which are heavily dependent on coal and manufacturing. The lawmakers have banded together to fight legislation they think might further damage their economies.

“There’s a bias in our Congress and government against manufacturing, or at least indifference to us, especially on the coasts,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. “It’s up to those of us in the Midwest to show how important manufacturing is. If we pass a climate bill the wrong way, it will hurt American jobs and the American economy, as more and more production jobs go to places like China, where it’s cheaper.”

This brown state-green state clash is likely to encumber any effort to set a mandatory ceiling on the carbon dioxide emissions blamed as the biggest contributor to global warming, something Mr. Obama has declared to be one of his highest priorities.
(26 January 2009)

Obama: U.S. done ‘dragging heels’ on climate

Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle
President Obama began the step-by-step dismantling of President Bush’s climate change policies Monday by endorsing California’s aggressive vehicle emissions standards and by naming a high-profile envoy to lead U.S. efforts to re-engage in international climate talks.

… On Monday, he signaled he will use his executive powers to force automakers to raise fuel efficiency and abide by California’s landmark law limiting greenhouse gases from cars and trucks.

“The days of Washington dragging its heels are over,” he said in a speech in the East Room in which he took repeated shots at Bush’s response to global warming. “My administration will not deny facts, we will be guided by them. We cannot afford to pass the buck or push the burden onto the states.”
(27 January 2009)

Obama’s Energy Policy Announcement

Gail Tverberg, The Oil Drum
Yesterday, President Obama delivered remarks on his plan to “reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs”. In this post, I provide Obama’s remarks on his plans to reduce our dependence on foreign oil (not really “energy independence”, as some have called it), plus some graphs of current imports to put these remarks in context.

Our big problem now is that imports from non-OPEC countries are dropping, putting us more and more in need of imports from OPEC countries. The EIA shows this graph of non-OPEC petroleum imports:

Our imports from non-OPEC countries have dropped from over 8 million barrels a day to less than 7 million barrels a day. Given what we know about decline rates, this situation is likely to get worse.

…. Solving our Persian Gulf imports is a relatively small part of our total problem, but it is a part. As non-OPEC imports decline further, we will be more and more dependent on OPEC imports from around the world.
President Obama’s Speech

This is a transcript of Obama’s speech…
(27 January 2009)

Directive from the Obama Administration on fuel efficiency is creating alarm among automakers

David Kiley and David Welch, Business Week
How California Could Affect Car Choices

President Obama’s order to the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether to grant a government waiver that could allow California to pass tougher fuel economy and emission standards for automakers than the federal government could significantly change the vehicle choices consumers have in the next decade.

If the EPA grants California a waiver, the move would allow the state to require that vehicles achieve fuel economy equivalent to 35 miles per gallon by 2017, three years earlier than mandated by a federal regulation passed in 2007. The new fleet average would be 42.5 mpg by 2020.

California also would make it tougher in some ways for the auto companies to meet the state regulation than the federal one. That’s because carmakers have been preparing to meet the new federal standard with future vehicle plans that include smaller engines, electric vehicles, and hybrids. But the phase-in of the California plan starting in 2011 and accelerating to 2017, they say, could force rapid price hikes on vehicles and slam automakers already hurting from the global recession. Under the rules, the auto companies would have to invest far more in new technology.
(27 January 2009)
Related: The view from the auto mall darkens (MSNBC)

Obama Orders Fuel Efficiency

Kevin Bullis, Technology Review (MIT)
The president clears away obstacles to reducing U.S. gasoline consumption.

On Monday morning, President Barack Obama signed executive orders that could speed the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles by improving fuel economy and setting stricter emissions standards. While the technology exists to reach the stricter standards, it’s not clear that automakers can implement them fast enough. What’s more, additional policy measures may be needed to reduce overall fuel consumption.

Obama signed two orders on Monday. One required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enforce a law that will increase fuel-economy standards to a minimum of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The law was passed in 2007, but detailed rules telling automakers how to comply were never implemented by the Bush administration. The second order signed by the president calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revisit a request from the state government of California asking for permission to implement emissions standards that are more strict than federal rules. Those standards call for decreasing carbon-dioxide emissions from new vehicles by 30 percent by 2016; more than a dozen other states have since followed California’s example. Under President Bush, that request was denied, but experts say it’s likely that the EPA will now approve it.

The orders are meant to reduce both carbon emissions and gasoline consumption, Obama said on Monday. They will help on the country’s “journey toward energy independence” and will “spark the innovation needed to ensure that our auto industry keeps pace with competitors around the world,” he added.

The technology does exist to make it possible, and much of it is simple.
(26 January 2009)