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Old 03-15-2008, 11:05 PM   #101
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As a chemist I tend to look at this thermodynamically.

You have geometrically (not linearly) increasing world energy consumption.
You have a finite fossil fuel source. Even with efficiencies, you only delay the reckoning by a few (maybe tens) of years.

The most fundamental issue is that we have too many people on the planet. Water, CO2, energy, disease -- the ecosystem WILL take care of itself. I do fear what that will be, but I believe that the time of serious troubles is a lot closer than most people realize.

Given the above, it is unconscionable that our government has had no leadership whatsoever on energy policy.

My first pass would go something like this:

First, there is no magic bullet and the solution must be a combination of greater efficiencies of energy usage combined with multiple alternative sources.

Announce steadily increasing gas taxes, but phase them in over say, 5 years so that the initial pain is lessened, but the anticipation starts moving industry to some solutions.

Near term (1-5 years): Raise gas taxes incrementally to values that might double the price of gas (it needs to make a difference), fund new programs and research from these taxes. Hopefully this incents industry and consumers to use smaller more fuel efficient cars like in Europe, and to make job and home choices based upon distance to work. Clear the way for easier approval/licensing of nuclear powerplants, provide big credits for hybrids, raise CAFE requirements for cars even more than currently, and NO SUV loopholes.

Mid term (5-20 years): More nuclear power, more solar power, more wind power. Look into wave/tidal power generation.

Long term (20+ years): Fast breeder nuclear plants. Hope fusion is harnessed.

Rationale for this approach:
- Raising taxes changes consumption patterns and funds research (and I tend to be Libertarian!)
- Raising fuel efficiency slows growth of consumption
- Wind and solar will help somewhat but won't generate enough energy to be a full solution, they only delay the inevitable
- Nuclear energy is actually a substantial source of energy and can buy us lots of time while we look for much longer term solutions
- Fusion would be the ultimate energy source if we could harness it and make it viable.

What won't work/is not a good idea:
- E85/Ethanol: consumes almost as much energy as it produces, raises cost of food
- Hydrogen cars: Hydrogen is a CARRIER, not an ENERGY SOURCE. It takes energy to make the hydrogen and there is an efficiency loss in any conversion. If you have the energy to make hydrogen why not use that energy directly?
- Wind/solar: A stopgap measure, but the amount of wind and solar that can be generated is small relative to the energy consumption we have in fossil fuels.
- Electric cars: See HYDROGEN. Electricity is a carrier of energy, not a source. Where are you going to get all that electricity? That's why you need nuclear power!
- Fuel cell cars: See HYDROGEN. Why is GM even working on this? Could possibly be more efficient if the source of fuel is hydrocarbon rather than hydrogen.
- Orbiting solar stations: A possibility, but my suspicion is that this will be too difficult and expensive to be viable.

Of course the real answer is reducing world population. I doubt we can even sustain the current population for over 100 years (I hope I'm wrong).
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Old 03-16-2008, 02:27 AM   #102
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It's not like the gov't is ignoring switchgrass, it's funding research. SDSU: Ag Experiment Station But you can see that it's a long ways away from prime time.
True. But the effort should be more aggressive. The Executive Branch did this merely are political cover. GWB represents Big Oil interest... not the majority of Americans. His tactic is to say something publicly (be politically expedient) and do something altogether different in the back room. His administration is full of stall tactics... hoping it will fix itself or maintain the status quo longer.

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That's the first thing that we accept when we tax oil (or carbon). Once alternate sources don't have to compete with the cheap (subsidized) fossil fuels, private investors will commit dollars. And, I think, they'll do it much more efficiently than gov't.

At the same time, users will get more efficient - something that won't happen if gov't simply subsidizes another energy source.
I understand your logic. We probably are on our way to doing something like that. But there is a fundamental problem (trap) that we are in today. Too many people at the margins get to work on cheap gas. America is a country of urban sprawl and rural folk. Much of America does not have workable mass transit for the masses... heck some doesn't have it at all.

Putting a consumption tax on top of rising prices today would further exacerbate the problem. But you are correct, that would drive down use and provide money to fund part of an energy program.

But! I am not a fan of taxes. Consumers will pay for it one way or the other... I would rather have the free market put the price and have government make sure the Oligopoly does not scr3w us. The problem with taxes is that it might be reasonable to help incubate a new program... but they would never stop after the program is on its way... the gov't would continue to spend the money.
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Old 03-16-2008, 02:31 AM   #103
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As a chemist I tend to look at this thermodynamically.

How about solar thermal plants in the desert? This seems to me to be a great solutions and the source is renewable.

I am a fan of wind and solar. Tidal is interesting.

I am not against nuclear (of Breeder... remember the Clinch River Breeder project that was shutdown), but the disposal of the waste is an issue. I would prefer to use it in situations to fill gaps where alternatives are not viable.

Coal is America's immediate energy source for large fixed installations. Short-term... this can be the solution instead of huge nuclear programs.
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Old 03-16-2008, 05:44 AM   #104
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How about instead of raising taxes on gas/oil they just quit giving the subsidies to the oil companies for producing oil? Change the subsidies to grant form to be used to subsidize exploration of alternative sources of energy. No new taxes are paid, but the cost of gasoline would still rise so the goal of increased fuel cost is achieved without the increased government burden on society.
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Old 03-16-2008, 05:58 AM   #105
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No oil subsidies for foreign oil makes sense to me. I am ok for Offshore US owned subsidies... if we are going to do subsidies.
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Old 03-16-2008, 08:23 AM   #106
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Surfdaddy: Great summary. I don't like the idea of taxing energy, but I have to concede that people won't conserve because it's the right thing to do, and there's probably no other way (see Europa). If I could be convinced that those revenues would go to alternate energy research, etc. it would be an easier sell - but we all know from past experience that revenues tend to get lost and dispersed to whatever needs 'our leaders' choose.

Ladelfina/Samclem/et al: I would still like to see a table of where we stand on the unit costs of all the various energy alternatives. I realize there are significant caveats, but it's hard to frame this debate with no $ perspective whatsover. And I'm convinced some of the opinions here would drop out if any economics were introduced. For example, there have been supporters of ethanol on this thread even though if you look at the economics it's clearly a politically driven sham.

As I read in another thread, I can't function on 'because it's obviously the right thing to do' alone. That's been shown to be a recipe for disaster time and time again...
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Old 03-16-2008, 08:44 AM   #107
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As a chemist I tend to look at this thermodynamically.


Of course the real answer is reducing world population. I doubt we can even sustain the current population for over 100 years (I hope I'm wrong).

Well there is that Bird Flu pandemic everyone is thinking may happen sooner than later..
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:45 AM   #108
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In general, I don't like the idea of raising taxes to force certain behaviors. But, will concede it may be a way to increase conservation.

I would like any increased taxes to be rebated back to people or companies in some way. If you raise gas taxes, then increase or extend tax credits for high mpg cars. Or, for companies doing research into them.
Same with coal taxes on utilities. Give them a tax credit for putting in alternatives.

But, that probably won't happen. Once our 'leaders' get a hold of the money, it will go to their pet projects.
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:48 AM   #109
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:38 AM   #110
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GWB represents Big Oil interest...
If so, then what was the Clinton administration's excuse? Did they take any aggressive energy policy stance? - not that I recall. CAFE standards were not increased (not that I think that is the right solution anyway).

RE: Gas Taxes:
Quote:
But there is a fundamental problem (trap) that we are in today. Too many people at the margins get to work on cheap gas.
Actually, this can be done w/o hurting the little guy. Make the tax revenue neutral. Raise the standard deduction by the amount of tax collected.

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How about instead of raising taxes on gas/oil they just quit giving the subsidies to the oil companies for producing oil?
I totally agree, that should be the first no-brainer step. Gee, why didn't the Clinton administration think of that? They do not 'represent Big Oil interest', right?

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Old 03-16-2008, 11:37 AM   #111
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If so, then what was the Clinton administration's excuse? Did they take any aggressive energy policy stance? - not that I recall. CAFE standards were not increased (not that I think that is the right solution anyway).
GWB and family made their money from the oil industry. They have interests to protect.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:50 AM   #112
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GWB and family made their money from the oil industry. They have interests to protect.
Your correct the Bush dynasty did make money from oil, and the Clinton's didn't. The million dollar question then becomes, "why didn't the Clinton's do anything more than the Bushs to get off oil?"
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:07 PM   #113
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It's really less GWB personally that I distrust on this level.. it's just that he is surrounded by and a product of, an entire Oil Tribe, as was his dad. They have fingers in ALL the civilian policy pies, AND all the military pies, and all the private investment pies. James Baker goes from being Sec. of State, to running slant-drilling in Kuwait (a possible provocateur in the Gulf War) and next is writing Iraq progress reports. Cheney goes from running Halliburton to directing US military policy and development contracts with Halliburton. They are operating a large private cabal on the public dime, as far as I can fathom. I don't care what blind trust they put their may or may not put their holdings into in the interim.. all they have to do is sit tight.. it's not about anything as crass as trading; this is much longer term. This has been going on since the Nixon years..


interesting:

Quote:
Since Cheney lived in Texas at the time [of the 2000 election], choosing him led Bush into a situation that, if the words of our Founding Fathers still have any meaning, is unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids a state's electors from voting for candidates for president and vice president who are both "an inhabitant of the same state as themselves." Yet by voting for Bush and Cheney, electors in Texas did precisely that. Cheney lived in Texas, had a Texas driver's license and filed his federal income tax using a Texas address. He had also voted in Texas, not in Wyoming, a state where he had not lived full-time for decades.
The Curse of Dick Cheney : Rolling Stone

The Bush admin. .. unconstitutional from BEFORE day 1!!?!
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:20 PM   #114
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Your correct the Bush dynasty did make money from oil, and the Clinton's didn't. The million dollar question then becomes, "why didn't the Clinton's do anything more than the Bushs to get off oil?"
Exactly. I'd be interested in an answer (not a re-direction) from the anti-Bush crowd.

-ERD50 (I'm not a Bush fan either - I just don't like double standards)
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:23 PM   #115
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Your correct the Bush dynasty did make money from oil, and the Clinton's didn't. The million dollar question then becomes, "why didn't the Clinton's do anything more than the Bushs to get off oil?"
I cannot defend Bill Clinton on his actions. By the way... I am an independent voter. The only thing that makes sense is the cost of oil was low during his term. Perhaps they did not see it coming.

However, right now it is fairly evident there is a problem and it is not likely to go away. GWB is here and now. He should aggressively solve the problem. Do you know why he is not solving the problem? Because there is over $1T budgeted to fund the Iraq war and rebuilding it.

Hope you republicans can see past party politics and recognize when you have a dud in office.

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Exactly. I'd be interested in an answer (not a re-direction) from the anti-Bush crowd.

-ERD50 (I'm not a Bush fan either - I just don't like double standards)
ERD


The discussion is about here and now. Clinton may have ignored the issue. Do you have some information that shows this to be the case?

And you are correct. I am not pleased with GWB. His actions have really been bad for the country. Bad for all of us.

Not sure why many would see any reason to defend him.
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:26 PM   #116
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Clinton admin.
Quote:
Climate change: more biomass, more efficiency

[The Clinton Administration has taken] action on Climate Change:

• Successfully negotiated the Kyoto Protocol, which sets strong, realistic targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and establishes flexible, market-based mechanisms to achieve them as cost-effectively as possible.

• Extended the tax credits for wind and biomass energy production through 2001.

• Set a goal of tripling our use of bioenergy and bioproducts by 2010.

• Increased research funding to more than $1.7 billion in FY 2000 to provide a sound scientific understanding of both the human and natural forces that influence the Earth’s climate system.

• Issued new energy efficiency standards for home appliances that will save consumers money and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

• Directed federal agencies to reduce energy use in buildings 35 percent by 2010, reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road and saving taxpayers over $750 million a year.
Source: WhiteHouse.gov web site Apr 1, 2000
Bill Clinton on Energy & Oil

Could they have done more? I guess.
Remember, though, if you will, that the Congress was controlled by Republicans the whole time.. Kyoto was seen as an outrage, and Al Gore was (then, even more than now) routinely and viciously mocked as a tin-hatted fool.

To the "misfortune" in many ways, of energy policy.. the global warming 'debate' overshadowed energy decisions.. it seemed as though no steps could be taken (according to Rs none were necessary) before the definitive absolute blame for GW was decided one way or the other. It was kind of like the OJ trial.. being 99.9999999% sure still left "reasonable doubt" on whether it was even happening. As though reducing pollution and waste were somehow not worth it on their own merits, global warming aside!!!

So given that, plus relatively cheap energy at the time.. it didn't allow for as much action as was talked about. It's hard to instill URGENCY about things that will yield results decades in the future.


---
fast-forward to recently. Bush says he will veto the bill steering $18 billion in oil co. subsidies to alt. energy instead. This despite his having said we should reduce our dependance on oil.
White House pledges veto if oil tax cuts repealed - Feb. 26, 2008

Do the oil companies REALLY need MORE of our money? Hard to imagine, that.

This is too bad.. since the now-extinct or soon-to-be-extinct tax credits for alt.. energy were starting to bear fruit in that young industry.

Renewable Energy Subterfuge: Bush’s Sleight of Hand

Bush on wind energy: Go fly a kite
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:58 PM   #117
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GWB and family made their money from the oil industry. They have interests to protect.
That seems to be a logical explanation for Bush. But what about Clinton? Similar policies to Bush. Same lack of action. What were his motivations?
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:00 PM   #118
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Thanks ladelfina.

I'm sure we could come up with a list of legislation that Clinton did not support also. That's always a bit tricky, and often meaningless - those bills are complex and sometimes they got shot down for one bad item, while other items sound good. So, if you shoot it down you get slammed for not supporting the good stuff. If you support it, you get slammed for the bad stuff. It's often a lose-lose situation.

As far as Kyoto though....

Kyoto Protocol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:
The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.
I'm not trying to defend anyone - I don't think any admin has done what they need to do (Carter may have made some baby steps).

Still, here's a little interesting info about someone who 'supports Big Oil':

http://select.nytimes.com/2006/12/15...=1&oref=slogin

Quote:
Op-Ed Columnist
Whichever Way the Wind Blows


By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: December 15, 2006


Time for another news quiz: Which American state produces more wind-generated electricity than any other? Answer: Texas. Next question — this one you’ll never get: Which politician launched the Texas wind industry? Answer: Former Gov., now President, George W. Bush.
-ERD50
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:03 PM   #119
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Here is an interesting experiment -- next time you see one of the Administration talking heads on the tube saying that there is insufficient evidence that human activity causes global warming, mentally replace that with a vision of a tobacco company executive saying there is insufficient evidence that smoking causes cancer. The parallels are striking -- people who benefit from the status quo defending it to their (our) last breath.
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:03 PM   #120
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It's a good bet that if oil were still $30/bbl, and gas $1.50/gal, the whole debate about energy we're having now would not have even happened...
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