Bush a peak oil convert

John Judis argues in The New Republic that Bush’s cryptic “oil addiction” comment signals that he may be taking the idea of peak oil seriously. Well, possibly: he points to several recent Department of Energy papers which have sided definitively with the Hubbert school of geology. Yet of course Bush won’t do the obvious thing for his long-term political reputation and repudiate oil, making him the biggest turnaround story since Nixon went to China — he’s too deeply in the huffing-glue corporate camp that believes in hooey like “ethanol”:http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/2/7/112747/5158. Yet even the _bankers_ (not just the insurance guys anymore) are staking out radical left-wing stances in favor of high gas taxes:

bq. In its analysis of Bush’s State of the Union adress, Deutsche Bank’s North American branch reaches a similar conclusion. Bush, the analysis says, “should talk about making a dependence on oil, as opposed to Middle Eastern oil, a thing of the past. … We should lessen our demand and conserve what is left. By inference that will reduce dependence on the Middle East. There is one simple way of doing this, and that is to raise gasoline taxes in the U.S.”

It’s only a matter of time, and the longer we put it off, the more it will hurt.

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One thought on “Bush a peak oil convert

  1. I don’t think you can dismiss ethanol as “hooey.” Brazil’s been running a massive ethanol economy for almost twenty years now. If we wanted, we could do ethanol today. Hydrogen is probably a fantasy and certainly a couple decades away. Diesel makes more sense than hybrids, chic and marketing aside.

    We need to cut fuel usage, and we should start using more ethanol. My brother’s a PhD chemist at Imation (he does inorganic magnetic stuff mostly, but he keeps up with the literature and of course has visited an ethanol plant), and a while ago I was quizzing him on the subject (I don’t know what piqued, no pun intended, my interest), and he seems to be a big advocate of ethanol.

    People often talk about the units of energy you get out of fuel for what you put in. They claim with ethanol it’s about 70 for every 100 (it’s actually over 100, but we’ll pretend it’s 70). Okay, but with coal using the same methodology (I guess different from the normal EROEI figures you’d find) it’s about 30. I don’t remember gasoline’s value exactly but it’s less than that incorrect 70 figure. Not only that, but ethanol has the potential to rise to maybe 130. For example, gasoline has a big advantage in that it’s piped everywhere. You can’t just switch pipes to move gas one day and ethanol the next day. Of course there will be other efficiency benefits, but they’re not possible as long as ethanol remains a small market.

    P.S. I’m curious if I’ve misunderstood what you were directing your “hooey” at or if I’ve missed something. The article you linked to didn’t seem to condemn ethanol but the marketing campaign and the idea of using ethanol, with less energy content, to power behemoth trucks and SUVs. Well, maybe the problem is the SUVs. By clicking the second link in the article you get a bit more detail that doesn’t really stand up (most of the arguments can be reduced to: gasoline consumption is so high that replacing it with ethanol would be as big a problem). And my support of ethanol is based off somewhat hazy memories; if you’d like I’ll get more technical elaboration and literature citations.

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