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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Public Smarter Than The Politicians

So, the wacky Republicans have heard from the public about the public's opinion of raising taxes on crude oil inventories in order to pay for a $100 rebate check to each household:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, under pressure from business leaders, retreated Monday from a plan that would have used a tax increase on oil companies and other businesses to fund a $100 gasoline rebate for millions of motorists.
In a statement, Frist said he will still push the rebate, but abandoned the accounting change and said the Senate Finance Committee planned a hearing on the issue in the near future.
Sing LA!!!!! This had to be one of the stupidest ideas ever. Raise taxes on crude oil inventories, and companies will have an incentive to cut them, won't they? We might pay for that dearly in a supply disruption. Anyway, you know we will end up paying for the increased costs at the pump. More from the article:
Aids to several Republican senators, including some who support the proposal, said Monday they have received generally negative feedback from the public in telephone calls and e-mails.

"There are some who say this is a Band-Aid and they want a real solution. .... There are people who say, `Do you think I can be satisfied so easily,'" said Don Steward, an aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. He said almost all of the comments received about the rebate - which Cornyn has characterized as "a theatrical response" - have been negative.
That's because it's a stupid, stupid idea. The proof positive was that DU liked it, although to their credit they were talking about trying to use their checks to buy solar cells and the like. Everyone knows that the real issue is supply. If we're never going to build new nuclear power plants, and we're never going to open new fields for drilling, we are going to face continually raising costs.

We do not need more suits like this one:
Ten states fired a new legal salvo at the federal government Thursday in a long-running court battle over global warming and pollution from power plants.

The states, joined by environmental groups, sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to regulate carbon dioxide pollution as a contributor to global warming.
"We feel it's incumbent on EPA to regulate carbon emissions from those power plants now in order to help us get our arms around global warming," said Spitzer spokesman Marc Violette.
We do need to figure out how to increase the supply of oil and how to reduce our domestic demand for it. Popular Mechanics published a nice article about gasoline alternatives, and noted:
For this special report, PM crunched the numbers on the actual costs and performance of each major alternative fuel. Before we can debate national energy policy--or even decide which petroleum substitutes might make sense for our personal vehicles--we need to know how these things stack up in the real world.
And in the real world, ethanol is a marginal contributor. Hybrids are the best workable alternative, and as PM notes:
Outlook: Mixed. While interest in plug-in hybrids grows, the long-term future of pure electrics depends on breakthroughs in longer-lasting, cheaper batteries and drastically lower production costs for the vehicles themselves. And then there's the environmental cost. Only 2.3 percent of the nation's electricity comes from renewable resources; about half is generated in coal-burning plants.
Which would be why we need nuclear plants - to generate the electricity needed. Around here people are open to it. They would mean jobs and power and have a relatively low environmental impact. And if you want to cut CO2 emissions, you need to replace fossil fuel with nuclear power and generate yet more electricity to replace fuel oil. There's no other way.

PS: If you think about it, I have every incentive to see my field growing taxpayer-subsidized corn sold to taxpayer-subsidized ethanol plants producing expensive ethanol sold to taxpayer-subsidized users. I'd come out positive on the deal. But ethanol can never truly be more than a marginal contributor to our energy needs, and it's time that everyone realized that. I'm all for the south rising again, but not at the expense of the entire country's future.

"Only 2.3 percent of the nation's electricity comes from renewable resources"..this is correct only if hydropower is considered a non-renewable resource. Which is ridiculous: there is nothing more renewable than flowing water. Used in this way, "renewable" is a political rather than an engineering term, and PM should know better.
I'll have to check OMR, but I know very little of our electricity now comes from hydropower.

Good point.
Hydro is 6.5% according to this:

..it looks like PM used the 2.3% number for "other renewables" and dropped the "other"...
Once it was a lot higher, but of course overall consumption has steadily shrunk the proportion. And of course changing river flow is an environmental issue, so I believe that several new damming projects have been stopped due to lawsuits.
I heard about this advertising scheme on a another blog, that gives away free computers. It sounded like a scam, but after I googled it, it was legitmiate. You have to sign up for an offer from one the sponser companies. I did a free trial one. Here's the link, check it out.
Mac Mini
Broken record time.

We have enough oil!
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