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Bush Mentions Global Warming, Energy Independence in State of the Union Address

OK, Our Work is Done! Let's Go Shopping! Wait: Energy Independence Raised in Prior Addresses and Dependence Increases Each Year

We Might Have to Actually Do Something...

If Bush Were Noah, When God Told Him the Flood Was Coming, He'd Have Bought Swim Trunks

President Bush let the American people know the desirability of greater energy independence and that global climate change is a challenge in last week's State of the Union Address. Unfortunately, there's a big difference between disclosing a problem and solving it.

When discussing energy independence, he did focus on the important role of technology as having the potential to make America more independent. But then he said the following:

"We made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies here in Washington and the strong response of the market."

In fact, we have made virtually no progress. The U.S. is nearly twice as dependent on foreign sources of oil today than when President Richard Nixon first raised the issue in 1973. (Over 60% of our petroleum is imported.) This percentage has continued to increase throughout the Bush Administration.

And technological advancement has often occurred despite the disinterest of American companies. Toyota and Honda took the lead on bringing hybrid cars to market, for example. General Motors forced recalls of its few electric cars. A Toyota representative told Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky that after it developed its second generation of hybrid technology, it sold its first generation to Ford Motor Company??? The Toyota rep then smirked.

But, energy independence is not exactly a hard sell, so the speech's real significance was Bush's plan to get us to greater independence (Bush made clear that complete independence was, in his view, unrealistic.)

The plan is a step in the right direction, but merely a step: greater investment in technology, higher auto fuel economy requirements and a mandatory renewable fuel standards. That's it. No energy tax, of course, (despite its endorsement by an increasing number of conservative economists) and not even an intimation of major increases in fuel economy standards. These steps are not going to achieve his stated goals of reducing dependency 20% over the next 10 years.

Yet, they was more specific and considered than his plan for global warming:

"And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change."

That's it. OK, glad we fixed that.

No cap-and-trade. No calls to citizen action. Still, given the previous positions of the Bush Administration, this is progress. Any bets on whether we will be less energy dependent when he delivers the 2008 State of the Union?


This article was originally written for the January 2007 edition of Kicking Asphalt.