SOTU - Energy

Thursday, February 02, 2006
The full text of the SOTU can be found here.

Following is an excerpt dealing with energy:

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. (Applause.)

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.


While I strongly support the increase in clean-energy research I was struck by the lack of emphasis on resolution of the political problem of nuclear waste storage. Production of hydrogen (to my knowledge) uses quite a bit of energy that might best be generated by nuclear plants (hopefully pebble beds) and if one accepts the 'inherently safe' designation of pebble bed reactors then the remaining problem is political rather than scientific in nature. Increasing research funding does not educate the general population on the factors and arguments in support of building additional nuclear facilities. I don't see how the country can get past the green luddite fear line without the government making as great an effort in educating the public as it is willing to make in research.

11 comments:

David Thomson said...

I may be deluding myself, but could Bush be setting up a trap for the Democrats? He agrees to go along with the alternative fuel programs---if the minority party agrees to drilling in Anwar? Sigh, I can at least dream.

Rick Ballard said...

DT,

There is no need to trap Dems, is there? They're like the Dodo - just sit there and watch the fellas walk up to them and then get bopped on the noggin and tossed in the pot. Not much sport to them anymore.

ANWAR isn't going anywhere and there isn't any particular rush. The remaining ME despots are not in the best strategic position wrt their precious oil reserves at any rate. If push really comes to shove then we flip a coin as to whether India or China is allowed to resettle the ME.

markg8 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Aach said...

I was very disappointed the President didn't emphasize conservation a lot more. The cheapest energy, whether for transportation (oil) or electricity (coal, gas, etc.) is the stuff you don't use.

While I can't address the nuclear waste issue (your comments about it politization do seem valid to me), I have called on my many years in the nuclear power industry to write an entertaining lay person's guide on the topic. (It's a thriller novel). The book is at RadDecision.blogspot.com, at no cost to readers (who seem to like it, judging by the comments on the homepage.) And if I've already mentioned it earlier - my apologies.

Rick Ballard said...

James,

I don't recall your having posted here before but after a thorough review of the 900 page "Flares Policy Manual" I don't find any regulations expressly forbidding comments promoting a commenter's own work on something close to the current topic. I bookmarked it and will give it a look.

What conservation measures would you have wished the President to address?

Knucklehead said...

DT,

As Rick said, there's no need to set traps for the Dems. They seem completely willing to make their own rope, fashion it into nooses, toss it over the nearest branch, climb on the horse, put the noose around their neck, and slap the horse.

They are a perplexing lot. I once believed that all forms of organizations have a "survival instinct" of sorts and will only cease to exist when someone willingly close down. The Dems disconvinced me of that notion.

Knucklehead said...

James,

Thanks for dropping in and commenting.
I'm a bit perplexed by your comment:

The cheapest energy, whether for transportation (oil) or electricity (coal, gas, etc.) is the stuff you don't use.

Clearly oil we don't use costs us next to zero (we purchase for the sake of strategic reserves so we can't quite get to zero even by not using). But we purchase petroleum products and consume them because they provide us something we consider to be valuable. Transportation, recreation, whatever.

Please explain how conservation can be done to a sufficient extent to solve any problems, especially if it is accomplished non-coercively. We can tax ourselves into conservation tomorrow but does that solve any problems or just yield a pissed of citizenry who feels they lost access to value for the sake of conserving petroleum.


From you years in the nuclear power field what were the issues involved in spent fuel disposal?

terrye said...

Rick:

I think people have gotten to the point where they are not so afraid of nuclear power.

After all if the French can do it, surely we can.

Knucklehead said...

After all if the French can do it, surely we can.

Yes, and the French have been obnoxious lowlifes far longer than nukes have been around, so we know it wasn't their nukes that made them the way they are.

JB said...

The politics of nuclear power is a valid concern. Perhaps Solzinc is a better bet in that respect? Who knows. It's certainly going to take a ton of research to make it feasible, but the breakthoughs so far seem promising.

Knucklehead said...

I don't claim any expertise about pebble bed reactors but we can be sure there will be people lining up to try and stop them from being built.

In the meantime, according to Wired, the PRC is planning to build them by the hundreds (thousands?).