Senator Barak Obama, of Illinois has ventured on to the world of myspace with his own podcast and transcript to talk about the President (generally pretty shoddy effort, must do better) and more interestingly about biofuels (a good thing).
Here's a taster
Take a look at the record. President Bush's funding for renewable fuels is at the same level it was the day he took office. He refuses to call for even a modest increase in fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His latest budget funds less than half of the energy bill that he himself signed into law, leaving hundreds of million dollars in under funded energy proposals. And while he can't seem to find the funding for any of these alternative fuel proposals, he has no problem allowing the oil companies to stiff tax payers 7 billion dollars in royalties that they owe us for drilling on public lands. These are the same oil companies that are currently enjoying the highest profits on records.
It is nice to see a poltico use the word stiff like that. It's nice to see a poltico talk about fuel economy. Having cleared his chest of a load and got his audience warmed up a little, the Sen says
Let me suggest what could be a serious energy policy. Brazil, in the span of 3 years has gone from 3 percent of its cars being flexible fuel vehicles that can use ethanol and other bio-fuels, to 71 percent of the cars on the road being flexible fuel vehicles that can use ethanol and other bio-diesel fuels in their cars.
Not certain about your time line there, but I like the thrust of this...
As a consequence, Brazil, a nation that once relied on foreign countries to import 80 percent of its crude oil, will now be entirely self-sufficient in a few years, thanks to the investment that it's made in bio-fuels. Countries like Japan are creating jobs and slowing oil consumption by churning out and buying millions of fuel-efficient cars. China now has higher fuel-efficiency standards than we do.
Surely, a nation that turns out as many PhD students as China does, will understand the importance of fuel efficiency standards, even if it has trouble reaching them in other areas. Back to the Senator...
So why can't we do this? Why can't we make energy security one of the great American projects of the 21st century? I think we can; here are a couple of elements to it. Number one: let's go to the auto-makers, and say, 'here's the deal, in exchange for you guys increasing your fuel efficiency standards, and increasing your fleet of flexible-fuel vehicles in the way that Japan has done, what we're going to do, is we're going to give you some relief on those high health care costs that are making you uncompetitive.'
An interesting idea. He sounds almost European in outlook. Good idea to try trading something genuinely useful for health care. Is the Senator thinking about the cradle to grave in the way that the Atlee government did in the UK in 1945? I wonder.
Number two: let's make sure that US fleets, meaning cars that the US government buys, we buy thousands of cars for various agencies and departments, lets make sure that all those are fuel-efficient, that they're hybrids, that they can take ethanol, or other bio-fuels that would be a lot more efficient.
Hear hear (biofuels lobby starts chant of Obama Obama Obama)
Number three: let's build on the success that we already have with something called E-85, an 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline blend, let's build on that success, by making sure that once you have a flexible-fuel vehicle, you can actually fill it up with E-85 at a regular gas station. It doesn't need a lot of fancy technology; it costs a relatively small amount for gas stations to install them. Let's expand the tax credit that we already passed last year, a bill that I sponsored, to make sure that every gas station in America has an E-85 pump, so you can fill up your tank, save money, help the environment, and help wean ourselves off foreign oil.
Surely that's 85% gas and 15% ethanol. Nevermind, we love this stuff
Bottom line is this, this is not a problem that is technical, it is a problem of political will. If we are serious about our environment, if we're serious about our economy, and if we are serious about our national security, we are going to make this the new Manhattan Project; we're going to make this the new priority for the 21st century.
That's what I call a speech. It is a problem of political will, but he'd do well to remember that there could be unforeseen environmental consequences of the huge increase in ethanol production from first generation fuels.I hate to go on about water, but....