State Of The Union: A Reaction

It’s been a few years since I’ve actually taken anything any President says in a State of the Union address seriously. Nonetheless, there are a few things that President Bush said tonight that I have to question:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Faced with a widely unpopular war in Iraq and a Democratic Congress, President Bush in his State of the Union address urged lawmakers to work with him to “achieve big things for the American people.”

(…)

The U.S. should reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent over 10 years, Bush said. His plan includes tightening fuel economy standards on automakers and producing 35 billion gallons of renewable fuel such as ethanol by 2017.

One official has said that would equal taking 26 million vehicles off U.S. roads.

“For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments…raise the price of oil … and do great harm to our economy,” Bush said.

Bush repeated his call for Congress to give him the power to set average fuel-economy standards for passenger cars.

Not one word, of course, about ending Federal regulation of the energy industry. Or allowing power companies to actually build a nuclear power plant for the first time in nearly 40 years. Instead, we get empty rhetoric about reducing dependence on “foreign oil” that fails to recognize the fact that the reason that American demand for oil and gasoline continues to grow is because the economy continues to grow. Even higher fuel prices create unseen benefits because they make the idea of alternative fuels that were unrealistic in the days of cheap oil and gas seem much more realistic.

On the whole, these are not bad things. The problem with the President’s proposals, as is usually the case with so-called energy policy, is that it starts with the assumption that Washington, not the market, is the proper place to decide America’s energy future. If the President truly wanted to end America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy, he’d eliminate government regulation of the entire field of energy production and let the market figure it out.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    The U.S. should reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent over 10 years, Bush said. His plan includes tightening fuel economy standards on automakers and producing 35 billion gallons of renewable fuel such as ethanol by 2017.

    A Soviet commissar could have taken that paragraph out of one of Stalin’s Five Year Plans. What are the consequences for not reducing gasoline consumption or producing enough ethanol?

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    From the transcript:

    It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply – and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power – by even greater use of clean coal technology … solar and wind energy … and clean, safe nuclear power.

    One mention of nuclear power. I see it’s a priority for him…

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/11/22/comrades-i-hereby-declare-the-revolution/ Adam Selene

    I wonder if anyone has told the government bureaucrats that our current trend line of ethanol production is about to impact corn supplies and prices?

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    I think Newt Gingrich has some of best ideas on this subject

    Create a series of incentives and prizes to develop a hydrogen economy and return the Middle Eastern oil supply to being a petrochemical feedstock. A hydrogen economy would be better for America and our allies. A hydrogen economy would be better for the environment (no carbon loading of the atmosphere). A hydrogen economy would be better for the American economy because it would keep at home all the cash we are currently sending to Venezuela and the Middle East.

    While working to develop a hydrogen economy, there should also be an interim strategy to include incentives for conservation and for renewable fuels, including wind, solar and biofuels. It is better to send the money to American farmers than to send it to foreign dictators.

    Create a $1-billion prize for the first affordable car to get 500 miles per gallon of gasoline and be manufacturable at a price of $30,000 or less per car with reliability and performance comparable to a gasoline powered car. This car would probably combine an e-85 ethanol fuel with a hybrid motor using electricity (and allowing a plug-in to absorb the 40% of electricity production currently unused at night) with a composite construction modeled off the Boeing Dreamliners very light and very strong (much stronger than steel) composite.

    A second $2-billion prize should be offered for a car getting 1,000 miles to the gallon of gasoline.

    The only one I would disagree outright with is the increased subsidies for ethanol and other “renewable fuels”, but it’s better than what Bush proposed.

  • http://unrepentantindividual.com/ Brad Warbiany

    Create a $1-billion prize for the first affordable car to get 500 miles per gallon of gasoline and be manufacturable at a price of $30,000 or less per car with reliability and performance comparable to a gasoline powered car.

    Hey! He stole my idea!!

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Brad,

    Now you can call yourself an adviser to Newt Gingrich ;)