New U.S. energy bill

Light Bulbs to Light Trucks, Efficiency Shapes New Energy Law
WASHINGTON, DC, December 19, 2007 (ENS) – Congress on Tuesday passed a new energy bill and sent it along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House in a hybrid Prius car. Today President George W. Bush signed the measure, which includes the first increase in vehicle fuel economy standards in 32 years.
The House approved the bill, 314-100 on Tuesday. The Senate passed it last week by a vote of 86-8.
The bill mandates a fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon in the year 2020, and by the year 2012 the inefficient 100-watt incandescent light bulb will be history.
Signing the bill, President Bush said, “Today we make a major step with the Energy Independence and Security Act. We make a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving future generations of our country a nation that is stronger, cleaner and more secure.” More

December 20
In about turn, Bush signs climate change bill
Energy law sets efficiency levels for cars and homes
Environmentalists say measures are too limited

Ewen MacAskill in Washington, The Guardian
President George Bush, after years of holding out against proposals to combat climate change, yesterday signed into law an energy bill establishing higher fuel-economy standards for new cars and other conservation measures.
Bush described the bill as “a major step toward energy independence and easing global warming”. The White House claimed it went part of the way to fulfilling promises made at the environmental conference in Bali last week.
The reaction of environmentalists was mixed: grateful that the White House has belatedly adopted some of the policies they have been advocating but warning that the measures were too limited and not due to be implemented for years.
Throughout most of his presidency, Bush has disputed scientific evidence about global warming, refusing to sign up for the Kyoto treaty setting targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Over the last year, he has publicly softened his stance, acknowledging there is a crisis, though administration officials say that in private he continues to be sceptical. More

E.P.A. Says 17 States Can’t Set Emission Rules
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday denied California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.
The E.P.A. administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, said the proposed California rules were pre-empted by federal authority and made moot by the energy bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday. Mr. Johnson said California had failed to make a compelling case that it needed authority to write its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks to help curb global warming.
The decision immediately provoked a heated debate over its scientific basis and whether political pressure was applied by the automobile industry to help it escape the proposed California regulations. Officials from the states and numerous environmental groups vowed to sue to overturn the edict. More
From: H. Douglas Lightfoot
Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:50 AM
Here are a few more comments and thoughts about thenew US energy policy:
1. Mandating more fuel efficient cars is a good move. It may or may not reduce gasoline consumption. With more fuel efficient cars, people may well drive more, and more people may drive. Up until now, and maybe not even now, the rising price of oil has not reduced gasoline consumption anywhere.We need all of the energy efficiency we can get. Realistically, it does not solve the problem of supply of liquid fuels, or of fossil fuels in general, but it extends the time that oil is available.
2. The portion of US energy policy that has moved into the realm of Fairy Tale Land is the part that tries to replace liquid fuels for road and air transport with ethanol from grains and/or switchgrass and wood chips.
The reality is that to produce 100 units of fuel as ethanol from corn requires at least 90 units of fossil fuels. The large quantities of corn produced today would be impossible to grow without fossil fuels. Burning food for fuel is already causing hardship to the poor of the world.
Wood is the best of the biomass fuels because it can be stored in place on the tree until used. In 1850 the US was using its forest resources for fuel at an unsustainable rate. Today, US fuel consumption is 35 to 40 times that of 1850. I have not run the numbers, but it is likely that the energy content of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is on the order of ten times the energy content of wood used for fuel in 1850.
The US has more forest today than in 1850. This reserve of energy will be used up quickly if wood becomes a significant source of fuel for road and air transport.
Switchgrass has the disadvantage that it has to be harvested annually. I don’t know how much fossil fuel is required to grow, harvest and process switchgrass, but it is not insignificant.
The real test of fuel from biomass, is to say to the proponents, “We will give you all of the fossil fuel you need to grow corn and switchgrass and convert it into liquid fuel for two years. After that, you can only use the fuel produced by your process to provide energy for further production.” These schemes will rapidly fall apart.
The problem is more serious than the US wishes to admit even to itself. The most powerful nation on earth gets its power from the consumption of energy by all of its people. Now that the energy supply is threatened, the solutions should be based on reality. Instead, the solutions proposed lack the focus of reality. This can only lead to disaster. This is especially important to Canadians, because the reality is that we depend on the US for the defense of our country. Its a dangerous world out there and it will become more dangerous if the US does not have the energy supplies to defend itself.
3. There are some scientists in the US who are promoting a $30 billion “Apollo” or “Manhattan” scale project to find solutions to the US energy problem. It is an unfocussed proposal and does not recognize the important role that nuclear fission energy must play. It would be better if their proposal were directed specifically towards finding a solution to adequate road and air transport energy supply.
4. It is interesting that the US House of Representatives is presenting a bill that would require all US naval ships to be powered by nuclear. They are catching up to Nobody’s Fuel.

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