Bush Clueless on Energy
The Star Tribune has an excellent editorial on Bush's energy proposals from his State of the Union address. In short, they will likely encourage continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions and do little to encourage biofuels.
Finally, as he did last year, the president emphasized the need for the development and expansion of alternative fuels. The prospect of expanding corn ethanol production and the development of other biofuels is not only good for energy self-reliance, it's also good for the economies of states like Minnesota, where corn, prairie grasses and other sources of fuel can be grown. Here the president did propose a mandate: the production of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017. But whole-plant or cellulosic ethanol, which would have fewer environmental impacts than corn ethanol, isn't ready for prime time, and Bush has never supported the levels of research necessary to create a working industry.
As is usual for politicians at the national level, Bush used misleading language which may make the uninformed observer think he is encouraging smarter energy policy when he is actually doing the opposite. Indeed, his ideas aren't just bad for energy, they are bad for U.S. companies as well.
Bush advocates changing the fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, but the way in which he wants to change them makes more sense for the sagging auto industry than as a means of reaching his purported goal: getting more miles per gallon of fuel.
A major reason for poor U.S. sales remains the wretched fuel economy of U.S. car companies. They have pushed the most profitable cars - SUVs - without a care for environmental consequences and without increasing the competitiveness of their smaller cars. CAFE is smarter than the execs - it is not often you hear government bureaucrats making better decisions than the market, but we need to go that route unless we really want the market to punish U.S. automakers with continued declining sales.