Critique of the Obama/Biden Energy Plan
by Robert E. Kozak, Advanced Biofuels USA Board Member
(I was quite disappointed to see no mention of low GHG biofuels and quite a reliance on oil, gas, and coal, for a plan that is being touted as “Making the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.” Also, it seems their renewable energy goals are not much different from those of the outgoing Bush/Cheney Administration. One must ask if this is the kind of “change we can believe in.” R.K)
Obama/Biden Energy Plan http://change.gov/agenda/energy_and_environment_agenda/
Provide Short-term Relief to American Families
· Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation.
In concept a good idea, however, without comprehensive hedge-fund trading regulations nothing will be accomplished.
· Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices.
All studies have shown that using the SPR to impact prices is ineffective because of the relatively small volume of the SPR. Instead the SPR should be increased while oil is around $50-60 to absorb any geostrategic oil supply cut-offs.
Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years
· Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
The current front-loading of the CAFE standard is a good start. The ten year goal should be increased to a 50% reduction. However, the plug-in hybrid loophole should be closed since electrical production needed to charge the battery must be accounted for on a one-for-one Btu energy basis.
· Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015.
No. Plug-in hybrids are part of the problem, not the solution. The US electrical production system cannot produce enough power for that number of hybrids without greatly increasing electrical production meaning more coal-fired (green house gases) or nuclear plants (no disposal system in place, increase in nuclear proliferation). It is often forgotten that about 70% of electricity produced is lost in transmission. Therefore, the real carbon footprint of a plug-in hybrid is over 3 times the amount of energy used to charge the vehicle’s battery.
· Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
Not needed. It would tend to benefit only high income people buying Toyota Priuses or similar “first-user” low production vehicles. The money could be better spent as part of the Retooling Bridge loans for the US automakers to assure that all vehicles produced by US automakers beat the CAFE requirements and are priced within the range of most Americans.
· Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
This misses the point entirely. It’s not the amount of carbon (C=C bonds contain the most energy/gallon) but where the carbon comes from. Renewable hydrocarbon fuel from low input/high yield non-food energy crops provides high energy fuels while being carbon neutral (Zero net Carbon Footprint).
The goal of the Obama Administration should be 65% of all US transportation fuels are produced from low nutrient input/high yield (LIHY) non-food biomass from forests, marginal grass lands, and agricultural residues by 2025.
· A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases.
Only if it includes a phase-out of domestic non-military production oil drilling by 2030.
· Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.
Isn’t “Responsible Domestic Production of Oil” an oxymoron if the goal of the Obama administration is to be a Leader on Climate Change?
Create Millions of New Green Jobs
· Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
These are the goals of the current Bush Administration. Shouldn’t the Obama Administration goals be at least double?
· Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
The Administration should move quickly to: 1) implement DOE appliance regulations to reduce energy use at least 50%, 2) require all building using Federal funding to be LEEDS Gold (or equivalent), 3) develop Model building codes to LEEDS Gold (or equivalent) for use by municipalities.
· Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
With over 100 million dwellings in the US this would take a century. How about 5 million/year at least?
· Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
There is no such technology. Environmentally safe coal plant carbon sequestering does not exist and will not for at least 10 years. This should not be a priority. Instead focus on biofuels, solar, wind, and energy efficiency.
· Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
Besides making T. Boone Pickens wealthier, what does this do to fight Climate Change?
Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
It won’t happen if oil and gas drilling is encouraged or increased coal electrical production is allowed.
· Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Numerous economic and environmental studies have shown that cap-and-trade programs are the most expensive, hardest to enforce, and easiest to game method to reduce emissions.
Instead; 1) a CO2 emissions standard in the Clean Air Act (which the Supreme Court has ruled EPA has the authority to promulgate), 2) a straight-forward GHG emission tax, and 3) a Manhattan Project to develop both cost-efficient renewable technologies and to assist transportation providers to reduce energy use would accomplish the goal quicker and with more job creation.
· Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.
This will happen only if oil, coal, and natural gas use increases are not included in the Obama Energy Plan.