The Press on Obama’s Energy Plans
No time right now for editorial comment from me, just a sampling of the press on Obama’s energy plans following his speech tonight:
“For the sake of our economy, our security and the future of our planet,” he said, with a stern look on his face, “I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”
Critics slam Obama for being all rhetoric and no substance, but in a summer when Americans are paying nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline and fretting about high heating costs to come this winter, he vowed to end what he called “this addiction” to oil.
“Washington has been talking about oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them,” he said. “In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day Senator McCain took office.
I don’t quite know what to make of that. Is it naivety? Pandering? Is he going to raise gasoline taxes by $5/gal (which would probably make the U.S. energy independent by crushing demand)? Or is the real meaning to be found in the phrase “dependence on oil from the Middle East” – since Canada is our #1 supplier?
“Let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president,” he promised. And he did… A pledge to make the United States energy independent of the middle east within 10 years (shades of John Kennedy’s equally improbable, but fulfilled, pledge to put a man on the moon in a decade). $150bn to be spent on renewable energy sources within the same decade. A look (but no specific pledge) on a new role for nuclear power.
- Ending U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East in 10 years.
- Tapping U.S. natural gas reserves, investing in clean coal technology and finding ways to safely harness nuclear power. Further domestic drilling was just a stop-gap measure, he said.
- Helping U.S. auto companies re-tool so that fuel-efficient cars of the future would be built in America.
- Investing $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy, wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels. Obama said that would lead to new industries and 5 million new well-paying jobs.
Obama says his “overarching goal” is to end U.S. reliance on Mideast and Venezuelan crude. Not much controversy there. Yet he’s not enamored of major U.S. oil companies either. He backs a windfall profits tax, and his aide Jason Grumet has spoken critically about the wave of mergers that gave us modern Big Oil.
Obama has several strategies to loosen oil’s vise. He has backed corn ethanol but now emphasizes cellulosic fuels made from materials no one eats, such as wood chips and switchgrass. A speculative solution, certainly, but indications of support could give a boost to big DuPont & Co., little Bluefire Ethanol Fuels Inc. and Verenium Corp., as well as private firms such as Mascoma Corp. and Range Fuels.
I don’t know how he could give much more of a boost than the current 36 billion gallon mandate. I guess he could throw a few more billion at the problem. While he’s at it, he may as well go ahead and mandate that we cure cancer. I still can’t figure out why nobody has thought of that.