Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Addicted to Oil

It was hardly surprising that President Bush devoted half of his State of the Union speech to foreign policy issues, and the bulk of that was about the situation in Iraq and its importance.

On other foreign policy issues - notably Iran - it was just a restatement of policy. The same on Israel and Palestine.

The most innovative part of the speech was the one devoted to energy policy:

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.

Great words - I think the speech will be remembered for the phrase "addiction to oil".

His goal of reducing dependence on oil imports from the Midde East with 75 % by 2025 is somewhat less ambitious than it sounds. Only 20 % of US oil imports today are coming from there.

But he has clearly set a new direction for policy.

And that might be important enough.

* * * * State of the Union 2006 * * * *