On Tuesday, April 25th, President Bush outlined a series of short-term steps intended to ease the rise in energy prices. But in his 2007 budget, spending is down 17% for research aimed at cutting energy costs.
Let me recite the facts:
- BusinessWeek's May 1, 2006 issue, in an article entitled "Dark Days for Energy Efficiency," describes federal funding cutbacks for research aimed at cutting energy use.
- An increasing share of research money is going to biofuels and hyrodgen. "They talk the talk but are pulling the rug out from under these [efficiency] programs just when they are needed most."
- In his State of the Union speech on Jan.31, President Bush called for investment in technology to break our "addiction" to oil. Just before a follow-up Presidential visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., the White House found that the lab had just laid of 32 workers because of budget cuts.
- These government efforts pay big dividends. Setting efficiency standards for refrigerators alone is saving nearly $20 billion a year, the California Energy Commission estimates. But the Bush Administration has so far failed to update appliance standards.
- In another federal program, university engineering students help small and medium-size companies reduce energy use. The $6 million per year effort brings $40 million in annual savings and trains new efficiency experts. But the number of universities involved is slated to be cut in half.
- The White House's four-part plan to confront high gasoline prices called for price-fixing investigations and several measures aimed at holding down the fast-rising costs of driving including easing pollution rules and diverting oil reserves.
- The Washington Post said in a 4/26/06 article by Jim VandeHei and Steven Mufson: "Privately, Republicans said price-fixing investigations are good politics but unlikely to result in any significant punishments or price changes this year. Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Assoc., said that it "does smack of 'round up the usual suspects.'"
- From the same Washington Post article: "Bush's order to suspend oil shipments to the strategic oil reserve -- the government's emergency supply for national security or other crisis -- will increase the domestic supply by less than 1 percent. This could save consumers a few cents per gallon at best, energy experts said. Philip K. Verleger, an Aspen, Colo.-based oil consultant, said that Bush's proposals were "more or less like prescribing aspirin to take care of prostate cancer.""
Me thinketh someone speaks with forked tongue.
* The Time Magazine cover shown above is a spoof of the February, 2004 cover about Bush's credibility gap.