Newt Gingrich is likely going to run for president in 2008. I hope and pray he wins the Republican nomination, as his defeat in the general would be all but a certainty, but it strikes me as unlikely.

Anyway, he describes his proposed energy policy on this page, and it includes a rather baffling misunderstanding that seems common in conservative circles:

The Bush administration’s investment in developing hydrogen energy resources may be the biggest breakthrough of the next half-century. Hydrogen has the potential to provide energy that has no environmental downside. In one stroke a hydrogen economy would eliminate both air pollution and global warming concerns. Since hydrogen is abundant in the air and water around us, it eliminates both the national security and foreign exchange problems associated with petroleum.

Uh.

Hydrogen, for those of you who missed both Chem 101 and Physics 101, does not "provide" energy. It is present in the "air and water around us," yes, but it doesn’t particularly want to come out of the air and water. Getting it out requires quite a bit of energy. In effect, we use hydrogen to store that energy. It’s true that the energy to extract hydrogen won’t come from oil, but given our current balance of electricity generation, and the love of Big Coal evinced by the powers-that-be, hydrogen is likely to shift the energy burden from oil to coal. That will not, suffice to say, "eliminate both air pollution and global warming concerns." Quite the opposite.

To his credit, Newt pushes conservation and efficiency pretty hard, unlike his buddies in the executive branch. But that’s about the best that can be said about his energy spiel.

(via Cut Oil Imports)