Lots of talk, little action
The media is abuzz that Bush will unveil new energy proposals in the State of the Union address. But it really is a “dog bites man” story.
Has any president ever talked so much about a problem while doing nothing to address it? The President’s sweeping rhetoric on energy independence, unfortunately, has never been accompanied by serious policies — he has actually cut funding for the key energy-saving technologies — which is one reason our dependence on imported oil has kept rising throughout Bush’s presidency. So we should take any new words in the 2007 address with many, many grains of salt.
Here are the relevant excerpts about energy from Bush’s previous State of the Union addresses:
2001: As we meet tonight, many citizens are struggling with the high cost of energy. We have a serious energy problem that demands a national energy policy. The West is confronting a major energy shortage that has resulted in high prices and uncertainty. I’ve asked Federal agencies to work with California officials to help speed construction of new energy sources, and I have directed Vice President Cheney, Commerce Secretary Evans, Energy Secretary Abraham, and other senior members in my administration to develop a national energy policy.
Our energy demand outstrips our supply. We can produce more energy at home while protecting our environment, and we must. We can produce more electricity to meet demand, and we must. We can promote alternative energy sources and conservation, and we must. America must become more energy independent, and we will.
2002: Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil.
2003: Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home.
… Tonight I’m proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car — producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
2004: Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run — so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
2005: To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home — including safe, clean nuclear energy. … And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology — from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough: I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.
2006: Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research — at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy.
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.