Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Energy Bill Lacks Substance

The President signed the much touted energy bill into law yesterday, however there appears to be little in the bill to address the most critical issue: dependence on petroleum based resources for energy production. If anything, the bill appears to encourage the continued exploitation of coal, oil, and natural gas, rather than focusing our energies on finding a suitable replacement.

One bill highlight - requirements for refiners to use 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol annually by 2012 - is most amusing. Use of ethanol was first proposed by President Carter in the late 1970's to address the oil shortages, gas lines, and surging oil prices. We subsequently backed away from the plan to add ethanol to gasoline for a variety of reasons, however the plan deserved merit. That it sat on the back burner for 30 years is most disturbing.

For an energy bill to meet The Grape's approval, it must include significant funding for viable replacement fuel research. Notice I do not say "alternative fuels." Dependence on petroleum fuels must be curtailed for both economic and national security reasons. To date, other than a $10 billion pledge by the President 3 years ago for fuel-cell research, there have been disappointingly few visible efforts aimed at eliminating our dependence on oil - foreign or domestic.


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