Don’t miss this week’s op-ed in The New Yorker from Elizabeth Kolbert (Grist interview here; Field Notes from a Catastrophe review here). It’s about transformers … sorta.

It begins by looking at the president’s and Congress’ failure to push for stringent energy-efficiency standards for distribution transformers, the little boxes that convert current from the grid into usable juice for households:

The decision obviously makes no sense on environmental grounds — in effect, the department is proposing to squander some twelve billion kilowatt hours per year, or roughly enough electricity to power all the households in Iowa — and also no sense on financial ones: the D.O.E.’s own analysis shows that the net cost of the lower standard will actually be higher over the life of the average transformer, which is estimated to be thirty years. The proposal leaves "billions in savings just sitting on the table," is how Steven Nadel, the executive director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, put it to the Christian Science Monitor.

It goes on to show how decisions like this put the lie to Bush’s supposed faith in American entrepreneurialism and technology:

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If you examine Bush’s record, you find that the technologies he supports are either those which were developed in the past — coal mining and oil drilling — or those which lie securely in the future: cars and buses that zip around on hydrogen. When presented with new technologies that could actually change the way Americans live in the here and now, the White House wants nothing to do with them.

Exactly, exactly right. I and others have made this point on Grist ’til we’re blue in the face, but Very Important People read The New Yorker, so here’s hoping the message gets out more broadly.

Read the whole thing.

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