Although most of the media centered on the House Climate Bill recently, this past June the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a comprehensive energy package S 1462 that is pretty much the same ole, same ole conservative twist on energy. S 1462 includes:
· Clean Energy Deployment Administration – provides for increased capitalization of clean energy projects;
· Oil and gas – opens portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, including Destin Dome, to oil and gas leasing, and establishes a one-stop permitting office in Alaska for offshore leasing in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas;
· Alaska natural gas pipeline – increases federal loan guarantee for the developers of a gas pipeline project from $18 billion to $30 billion, and allows access to the Federal Financing Bank;
· Energy workforce development – provides assistance to institutions of higher learning and community colleges that place an emphasis on energy jobs and help train the energy workers of the future;
· Energy efficiency – establishes new efficiency standards for several consumer products and makes changes that will allow standards to be updated more often and be market driven;
· Renewable electricity standard – requires utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity with renewable energy by 2021, and contains consumer off-ramps for increased costs and the opportunity to petition for a variance due to transmission constraints, includes expanded definition of biomass, eligible hydropower and removes nuclear uprates from the baseline;
· Nuclear – provides clear statement of the federal government’s support for nuclear energy, as well as encourages resolution of the spent nuclear fuel issue.
· Transmission – addresses planning and siting of electrical transmission infrastructure by encouraging states to develop plans and giving FERC backstop siting authority, ties cost allocation to benefits;
· Cyber security – increases authority for both FERC and the Department of Energy to protect the nation’s electrical grid from cyber security threats and vulnerabilities;
· Carbon sequestration – allows for indemnification of up to 10 demonstration projects;
· Modification of Section 526 – allows the government, and in particularly the military, to purchase Canadian tar sand oil.
Either the two bills will collide, and end up being much ado about nothing, or meld into a bill everyone can work with notwithstanding industry lobbyists who would like all to remain status quo even though the math doesn’t add up. We use a quarter of the world’s oil, and only have 3% of the world’s oil stores. When we get into tar sand oil, the price of producing the stuff and the pollution it produces is ridiculous to even bring up in an environmental conversation. We need to move along to sustainable, renewable energy and soon.
The idea is to use as little as necessary of the old fossil fuels in the interim process of the shift to alternatives while we concentrate on funding technology that has been squeeze played for quite awhile. And what are some of the technologies that have been held up? It’s been over a year since I blogged about Centia, a process that uses restaurant sludge grease and converts it to jet fuel and other fuels at the molecular level. http://www.oilgae.com/blog/2009/01/jet-fuel-from-animal-fats-algae-oil-via.html. This fuel can be ready to go in less than 2 years if it gets proper funding. See what I mean? What’s the stall? There is a never-ending supply of restaurant grease the way America likes to eat. And what about algae for fuel? I blogged about that too. Some mighty fine progress is being made along those lines, http://earth2tech.com/2008/03/27/15-algae-startups-bringing-pond-scum-to-fuel-tanks/, but again its overlooked in the media and subject to conservative spin that it costs too much or will cost jobs. I’ve even run across someone wondering where we’re going to grow all the algae? Duh–pond scum, some of that stuff can regenerate in 24 hours in the right bog.
I thought we knew by now that anything brand new costs more. Look at mainframe computers back in the 70′s compared to laptops, or digital watches, or radios. We can buy a digital watch or radio in the dollar store now. I bought a dollar store radio for my sister in a nursing home. I couldn’t believe the sound I got out that little plastic thing when I put the earphones on. Unbelievable.
The ingenuity of invention that transpires when something is finally unleashed from the grasp of the status quo is unbelievable and could put the U.S. in a position of industrial leadership again. And that’s how I and many others picture the future. Superceding fossil fuels isn’t a downfall, but an opportunity. We’ll be saying the word, “unbelievable” about a lot of things we invent like running our cars, and heating our homes with restaurant grease or algae, or solar, or wind. Alternative energy is a diverse and growing market. If anything our environment will be a lot quieter.
Read more about both bills: