Feb 1, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Set America Free's Response to State of the Union [Feb 01, 2006]
In his State of the Union address, President Bush unveiled an ambitious "Advanced Energy Initiative to help break America's dependence on foreign energy," and set a national target for reducing oil demand. A statement by the President confirming that it's time to end our national addiction on oil is a welcome development, since most of the world's oil reserves are located in countries that don't particularly like us at best, and foment hatred against us at worst. We applaud the President's conviction that technology holds the key to reducing our dependence.
The President's plan is a compendium of research initiatives which may have a great impact in the distant future and are definitely worth pursuing, but in the short run they will do little to advance our petroleum predicament. What we need most now is a focus on deployment, not only R&D.
In the context of that technologies that could reduce dependence on oil, the President said he wants to "change the way that we power our homes and businesses by accelerating research on clean coal technologies, safe nuclear energy, and revolutionary solar and wind technologies."
However, unlike in the 1970s, today less than 3% of U.S. electricity is generated from oil. We have already weaned our power sector from foreign oil. So, whatever the various merits of solar, wind, nuclear et al, they have nothing to do with reducing our oil dependence. [pie chart showing percentages}
The second component of the President's initiative, changing the way we power our automobiles, is more germane. Two thirds of our oil consumption is in the transportation sector, mostly due to cars and trucks. The President's emphasis on hybrid vehicles and even more so on electric and plug in hybrid electric vehicles is refreshing as is his call for stepped up efforts to speed commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. But if, as the President projected, cellulosic ethanol is just six years away, we need to redouble efforts to make sure that every car sold in America is a flexible fuel vehicle that can actually run on this fuel. It costs under $150 extra to make a car a flexible fuel vehicle that can run on a variety of alcohols, ethanol being one of them, in addition to gasoline.
One of most enthusiastic ovations was given to the President for setting a national goal to reduce 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. A breakdown of that target: Out of the 12 million barrels (mbd) the U.S. imports daily, only 2 mbd actually come from the Middle East. By 2025 the U.S. is projected to import close to 20mbd, about 5 of which will come from the Persian Gulf. The President's oil saving target is therefore 3.75mbd. This figure is far below the oil saving target which is currently being pushed by Congress though the bipartisan bicameral Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act based on the Set America Free Blueprint for Energy Security. Senate bill S.2025 advocates a 7 mbd reduction in twenty years and the companion House bill HR.4409 aims for 5mbd in that time frame. There is no reason for the President to be more timid than Congress.