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How Not to Build an Energy Plan
Alex Steffen, 19 Nov 03

Following up on Jon's recommendation below, it looks more and more likely that Congress will pass the Cheney energy bill. This is a disaster of the first magnitude which will impact the lives of every person on the planet.

But it's also instructive. In fact, the $60 billion bill, called by Senator John McCain the "leave-no-lobbyist-behind bill" (the NYT terms it "one of the most depressing legislative initiatives in recent Congressional history.") is something of a primer on how not to build an energy policy for the 21st Century.
(more below)

Here's a ten-point plan for how not to do it:

1) First of all, emphasize corporate profits above all else, and, whenever possible, give public resources and tax-breaks away to what were the 20th Century's least responsible corporate citizens;

2) Rely above all on oil as the fuel for economic growth, despite the fact that world oil production is expected to hit its peak within the next ten years and decline steeply after that;

3) Emphasize older technologies and reward companies for not improving them, for example continuing to set fuel standards at a level below what China now requires;

4) More or less ignore energy efficiency;

5) Reinforce the importance of our aging energy grids, reducing taxes and oversight on the corporations who run them, and ignore entirely those who advocate a more modern replacement;

6) Reduce requirements on public utilities to act cautiously and in the public interest (one Democratic representative said this "will do for your gas company what banking reform did for your savings and loan");

7) Make it less expensive to spew climate-changing carbon from power-plant smokestacks;

8) Studiously avoid mentioning the consequences of climate change;

9) Shower money on "alternatives" like ethanol which in fact merely prop up the oil economy, and on provenly disasterous ancient technologies like nuclear power;

10) Push for more drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands and in wilderness areas.

As Meteor Blades writes,

"It’s not as if there aren’t excellent alternative energy plans out there. The American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy has one, and the labor-business Apollo Alliance has a Ten Point Plan. The Rocky Mountain Institute jumpstarted the foundation-funded New Energy Policy Initiative and the Natural Resources Defense Council has put together A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century. [Unfortunately, this bill] is about as far from these proposals as it is possible to get without reviving the steam locomotive."

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The truly mind-boggling thing about this bill is that, despite being opposed by almost every ideological faction in the country, it's still going to pass thanks to Party Loyalty.

I wonder if we can get the AIs from The Matrix to run the American energy policy...

Posted by: the Fourth Man on 19 Nov 03

I'm going to repost a comment I made in another blog that fits here, too:

I don't bother getting angry about this kind of thing anymore. It's like getting angry each time the family of coyotes that took up living in your house kills another of your cats, or leaves another dump on the carpet, or shred another of your books to make a den for that upcoming litter. Coyotes do that kind of thing. You just come to expect it. It's part of having coyotes in your house.

So instead of getting angry, you work on getting them out of the house. Which is why I'm starting to make political donations.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 20 Nov 03



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