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State of the Union: “America is Addicted to Oil”

Proposed funding by area for the Advanced Energy Initiative. Click to enlarge.

In his State of the Union 2006 address, President Bush announced the Advanced Energy Initiative—a 22% increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE).

The Initiative is intended to focus on providing breakthroughs in two areas: power for homes and businesses; and transportation.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: 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.

[...] Breakthroughs on [these] 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.

—President George Bush

Funding proposals to support the Advanced Energy Initiative in the President’s 2007 Budget will include:

  • $150 million—a $59-million increase (65%) over FY06—for the Biorefinery Initiative, the purpose of which is to help develop bio-based transportation fuels from agricultural waste products, such as wood chips, stalks, or switch grass.

  • $30 million—an increase of $6.7 million (29%) over FY06—to speed up battery development for hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

  • $289 million—an increase of $53 million (22%) over FY06—to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen-powered cars.

  • $281 million for the development of clean coal technologies. The President had committed $2 billion over 10 years to speed up research in the use of clean coal for power generation. The 2007 Budget request will nearly complete that $2-billion promise 4 years ahead of schedule, according to the White House.

  • $54 million for the FutureGen initiative—a public-private partnership to develop an emissions-free coal plant. (Earlier post.)

  • $148 million for a new Solar America Initiative—an increase of $65 million (78%) over FY06—to accelerate the development of solar photovoltaic cells.

  • $44 million for wind energy research—a $5-million increase (13%) over FY06 levels.




Additionally, all levels of gov't could demand (and order) higher-mileage cars using flex-fuel, diesel/bioD and hybrid tech. The days of 10mpgpolice cars and huge SUVs was over years ago.


If he wanted to boost his poll numbers and more importantly address the nation's energy problem, he should have made an Apollo Project (like) commitment.


You have to LOVE how more is spent on coal than anything else, after adding the "clean coal" and "FutureGen" projects! $335mil for coal and only $30mil for hybrids/plug-ins combined?

While "clean coal" plants are certainly better than the existing onese we have, we ALREADY know how to do this! What else is left to research?


I would like to see a billion dollars above the money listed above spent in wind solar and electric.
There is no reason that we can not trim the pentegon budget a bit to fund this. That said I am glad he pushed it to the front of his speech and made it important.


Just think what could happen if all that money wasted on hydrogen was spent on hybrids or solar.

Shirley E

I'm just glad to see investment, ANY investment, in PHEV. Once the batteries are ready for prime time this technology will simply sweep hydrogen and fuel cells aside. Until then, though, we can expect to see continued flogging of the lame horse. Or until the next administration, whichever comes first.


To curb the demand for energy, it can't be resolved merely by exploration of new energy but conversation. It seems nothing is mentioned in CARB! EnergyStar rated applicances should be encouraged. None of them was mentioned, unfortunately...


Plug-in hybrids

That is all I have to say. It is a no-brainer. That is unless you are a lobbiest for an oil company.


So after spending a couple of trillion dollars on the wars in the middle east and killing thousands of people they figured out that they should spend less than $1B on improving technology that will lower oil consumption. Brilliant! Why couldn't I think of that?????

They sure do use some funny math over there. I suppose building fancy miltary gadgets is just much more fun than developing batteries and fuel efficient engines.

Let's try this:
1) Stop all wars, pull out, etc
(stop pissing people off)
2) Spend trillion dollars on energy technology (fuel efficient engines, solar, wind, the whole works)
3) Outsorce some work to 3rd world (with so much money you can spin few billion off to different contries for certain development work)
(now most of world loves you)
4) 12 months later US uses 20% less oil
5) US exports all this tech to other countries, makes a lot of money, the rest of the world cuts oil use by 20%
(everyone loves US now)
6) oil prices collapse, oil is cheap again, no more wars in middle east

No more weapons and no more wars over oil. Now that is a horrible plan ;)


This does very little to address the energy issue where the rubber meets the road -- at the consumer level. There's nothing wrong with encouraging technology but we don't have the time to wait for that magic day of techno nirvahna. Let's use the technology we have today. If people are incentivized with high gas taxes and credits for hybrids, pv, wind, conservation, insulation, etc. etc., the technology will follow. Private industry will follow the money which will have a much greater and faster impact that a few million here and there from the federal government.

The market for solar, pv, hybrids, etc,. needs to be guaranteed for the next twenty years, at least. Shut down Iraq and invest those billions in alternative energy and conservation.


I think I'm in a similar state of mind to "t" above.

I'm really trying to sort out in my mind this morning why "conservation" didn't make it into the detailed plan. I could see it not being mentioned in the spoken SOTU for reasons of consumer confidence.

So far my ideas have ranged over these possibilities:

- the president knows conservation is critical, but is expects it to happen anyway, as a result of higher prices

- the president doesn't think conservation is critical, and actually thinks hydrogen cars will save us

- the president doesn't care and the bar graph above represents the relative power of research lobbies at the federal level

- the president doesn't care and the spending is immaterial, it is all a band-aid on consumer confidence

... did I miss any?


Conservation is overrrated as a means of achieving the goal of using less oil. You start off with "Doing the same with less energy" and inevitably end up with "Doing more with the same amount of energy".

Harvey D

Energy Conservation is just not part of the American and Canadian way of life. A society based on consumption cannot easily be converted to conservation. That is why our politicians promote the production of more and more energy from various sources as the ideal most accepted solution. This may be exactly what the majority wants to hear. A few trillion dollars spent on OIL WARS is in line with our quest for more energy. The same resources could have doubled the efficiency of our vehicles and reduced OIL consumption by 50%. Is that what we really want? Many of us still prefer, Oil Wars, cheap gas, V-12, 3-ton 4 x 4 gas guzzler regarless of mpg and pollution created. Alberta Tar Sands extraction operation is a perfect example of how far we are willing to go to perpetuate our consumption society. Short term benefits dictate...


Anne - picture two curves plotted in your mind. In one, you conserve, improve efficiency, and then grow (with that greater efficiency). In the other, you simply grow.

The area between the two curves is what you've earned with your conservation/efficiency.

(BTW Harvey, you may not be wrong, which puts us in a pretty tight spot.)


For the same reason no one is stupid enough to back a bill that forces all computers to use less then 5 watts of power or all sterios use less then 5 watts of power or that all all fast food places sell just what the average person needs an no more or that skydiving is a waste of fuel or boating or flying or that skiing is a waste of energy or that all racing cars must get at least x miles per gallon or that football games cant be played at night as its a waste of energy or that computer monitors cant be larger then 12 inches as anything larger is a waste of enrgy or that all hard drives must be 4200 rpm as anything faster is a waste of energy or that all pottery classes will be shut down as it uses soo much energy or or or or or ....

What soo many forget is we NEED some of the things we want because you cant expect people to go through life with just what you think they need.


You guys are arguing from pretty weak straw men. By your logic, because open pit minors need monster dump trucks, fleet mileage can never be reduced, right?

If you were going to make a rational argument, you'd set out to prove that everyone needs all the energy they consume, and not rely on corner cases.


Then you need to justify your computer and monitor bub.

Yes we want our stuff to use less energy. But we still want a better computer and that will still mean more power used. We still want a bigger tv and a bigger monitor and that still means more power used.

They want a car they enjoy driving as much as we want a computer we enjoy using.

If they have collectively enough money to fund the stuff needed to provie the fuel for that car... same as we spend enoygh money on puters and eletric bills to fund whats needed to support our habit.


BTW in the real world, a couple years ago I happened to split my time between two computers. Both were 2.4GHz P4s, 3/4G RAM, 80G HD. They were identical in their performance charictaristics (I was actually benchmarking apps). On the other hand, they differed quite a bit in their power draw. The IBM ThinkCenter tended to draw 40w under typical software-developer load. The Dell tended to draw 70w under typical software-developer load. One was "Energy Star" and one was not.

But wait ... you'd say I "NEED" that 70w when it flows through a Dell, right?


(watts measured with a Kill-A-Watt monitory)


Years of talking to take one commuter out of one big Car/Truck has been a waste of time. The only way that will happen is if the cost of fuel makes it so. To a small degree it's happening now.

Wish the US and Canada had some of the pleasant, efficent public transportation systems seen all over Europe and Japan. But we won't until we hurt so much that there's no alternative.

Unless we get with it on alternative, renewable fuels that day will be here sooner than we think.

I'm moving back to the farm where I'll get me a horse and buggy.

Daryl E

You have to be kidding me. You watched Bush give his speech-writers' speech? He's only serious about perpetuating big oil. By the time HIS "ideas" (which us environmentalists have been requesting for 30 years) come to fruition after running through the Republican Congress, they'll be very watered down. I helped the environment by saving electricity by turning off my TV during his speech.


No im saying if your using an overclocked 4.6 ghz p4 with 10 fans 2 terbtyes of hdds 4 gigs of high speed ram and 4 powerful gpus blah blah blah who is gona tell you that you are using too much power? What is the correct amount? Of couse if anyone told me id tell them to go shove it.

The problem is cars are not just about gettign people from a to b they are a big form of entertainment. A VERY big form of it.

Personaly I hate driving but I do understand the reaction I would have if some ass tried to screw around with my puter. Specialy someone who didnt like computers. Come to think of it that already happened and I told her to do things I cant mention...


We spend $7 Billion a day in Iraq and in so doing, alienate people the world over with our narcissistic arrogance. As an agenda, we spend $Billions subsidizing Big Oil with public funds so Joe-sixpack can squander it like an alcoholic. No wonder we can't afford to invest in energy alternatives. We buy oil in the middle east and ultimately fund terrorism, then as if in a stuper, we send our sons and daughters to war so we don't have to tighten our belts here at home. It's sickening. Every addiction is a sickness of denial, and we won't fix this one until we collectively admit to the problem.


It’s time for everyone to get off their lazy butts and go out and buy cars that get better gas mileage. We don’t need everyone driving a car that gets +40mi/gal! So stop you’re crying about what Prez. George Bush and other Federal leaders say their going to due someday. Did Prez. Bill Clinton due anything during his 8 years in office help our country gets off its oil habit? NOPE! Bio-fuel & Battery Plug-In Hybrid cars are the future and not the hyped hydrogen fuel cells cars everyone hears about. Bio-fuel technology being developed right now in the private sector will be able to replace all transportation fuels within 10-15 years. How many trillions of dollars is it going to cost to develop the Enviro-Nuts Hydrogen Utopia World Anyway? IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN! Bio-fuels will be carbon neutral just like the H2 cars would be without all the unnecessary expense. Successful Startup for 10kW Virent System that Generates
Power from Biomass (1/26/06) Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae


I agree with wintermane. And when we speak of conservation, we must distinguish between voluntary vs forced. I, for one, am glad to see the $Billion go into the above research areas.
By the way, how about keeping our negative political tones out of this site of great ideas?

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