NewEnergyNews: ENERGY ALONG PARTY LINES

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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    ENERGY ALONG PARTY LINES

    Headlines in the New York and LA Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other news outlets this week promised insights into congressional action on pending energy legislation but uniformly focused just on the price of gas at the pump, auto fuel standards, the ethanol scam and the future of biofuels. There is a lot more at stake in the energy bill emerging from compromise talks between House and Senate powers.

    First and foremost, there must be some kind of legislated incentives for New Energy. Will the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), requiring US utilities to obtain 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, stay in the package? Will the proposed compromise allowing 4% of the 15% to come from efficiency efforts get it through the Senate?

    If there is no RES, there MUST be extensions of Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) for New Energy. If one or the other is not included, invest in beachfront property in Greenland.

    Meanwhile, below is a non-partisan look at what the 2008 presidential candidates are promising. Some candidates promise to resolve important issues at play in the pending legislation. Some just make promises:

    “…The Senate recently passed a bill that would increase the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon...by 2017...Democratic candidates would go much further. Clinton would require 40 miles per gallon by 2020 and 55 miles per gallon by 2030. Edwards would require 40 miles per gallon by 2016, and Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico would require 50 miles per gallon by 2020…”

    Expect congressional action to come before Santa. Don't expect those mileage standards.


    The truth is it’s time to move away from liquid fuel to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

    In ’08 race, U.S. party lines sharply drawn on energy
    Edmund L. Andrews, November 28, 2007 (International Herald Tribune)

    WHO
    - Democratic and Republican candidates for their parties’ 2008 presidential nominations
    - For the major candidates’ official website energy policy presentations:
    Biden, Clinton, Edwards, Giulani, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, Richardson, Romney, Thompson

    click to see your favorite better

    WHAT
    The candidates are split, mostly along party lines, and the differences have significant implications for the direction of US energy policy.

    WHEN
    Voters will begin selecting their party nominees January 3 in Iowa. The 2008 general election is just less than a year off.

    WHERE
    The importance to voters will be in how the nominees’ positions would affect gas and electricity prices. Democrats’ emphasis on the development of biofuels might lead to short term pump price increases. Republicans’ emphasis on more oil drilling would take years to impact supplies. Both policies would likely drive prices down in the longer run. But each plan has a flaw. There may not be adequate supplies of biofuels to sustain a downward impact on pump prices and more drilling might worsen the nation’s addiction to petroleum fuels and aggravate the burdens of climate change.

    WHY
    - Democrats’ plans focus on cutting oil dependence and slowing climate change: repeal tax breaks to big oil, spend billions for alternatives, get more efficiencies from vehicles.
    - Republicans’ plans focus on producing more domestic energy: drill the oceans and Alaska, develop coal-to-liquids and biofuels.
    - Democrats would restrict greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with mandates for alternatives; Republicans would not interfere with market forces.
    - There are crossover (“blurred”) issues: Barack Obama supports coal-to-liquids (if they are from “clean” coal) and will consider nuclear. Hillary Rodham Clinton is “agnostic” on nuclear. John McCain has repeatedly opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. McCain and Mike Huckabee are the only Republican candidates to support mandatory limits on GHG emissions. Huckabee recently called climate change action a moral issue.
    - In general, the Republicans separate the questions of energy and climate change while the Democrats see them as linked.

    Actually the 2008 election will be on November 4 but the promises don't change much from election to election.

    QUOTES
    - Leo Hindery, chief economic adviser to John Edwards: "There are no short-term solutions…"
    - R. Glenn Hubbard, top economic adviser to Mitt Romney: "The truth is that the answer to high prices is high prices…This is one area where the public expects more from politicians than politicians can deliver."
    - Romney, on energy policy associated with energy policy: "Now is not the right time to raise taxes on our oil companies…While it is likely that human activity is contributing to climate change, I am not sure how much, or what we can do to significantly reduce or reverse this effect…[new mandates for renewable fuels should be] a collaborative effort between industry, scientists, and the agriculture and energy communities."

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