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Obama Wants To Fund Clean Energy Research With Oil & Gas Funds 409

Posted by Soulskill
from the laundering-dirty-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Obama Administration has put forth a proposal to collect $2 billion over the next 10 years from revenues generated by oil and gas development to fund scientific research into clean energy technologies. The administration hopes the research would help 'protect American families from spikes in gas prices and allow us to run our cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels.' In a speech at Argonne National Laboratory, Obama said the private sector couldn't afford such research, which puts the onus on government to keep it going. Of course, it'll still be difficult to get everyone on board: 'The notion of funding alternative energy research with fossil fuel revenues has been endorsed in different forms by Republican politicians, including Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowsi. But the president still faces an uphill battle passing any major energy law, given how politicized programs to promote clean energy have become in the wake of high-profile failures of government-backed companies.'"
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Obama Wants To Fund Clean Energy Research With Oil & Gas Funds

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  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:57PM (#43193125) Homepage

    The notion of funding alternative energy research with fossil fuel revenues has been endorsed in different forms by Republican politicians

    Until the president proposes it, then it automatically becomes "socialism" and they'll oppose it.

    • by CncRobot (2849261) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:05PM (#43193173)

      His fisrt term he put $80 Billion towards this. You will remember great hits like Solendra, A123, and Fisker. The list of companies getting the money from that original program read like a whos-who of campaign donors. Many of the companies went bankrupt quickly after getting the federal money and none of them produced anything usable.

      So, to anser your question "How is this not a good idea?" The track record is this will be a slush fund to reward his friends and accomplish nothing useful. Corrupt politics and corporate cronyism at its finest. Nothing to do with "socialism", just plain theft.

      • by benjfowler (239527) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:10PM (#43193197)

        In the case of Fisker, the government is backstopping them, to prevent the Chinese from funding Fisker and then stealing all the technology for themselves.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) *

          ... to prevent the Chinese from funding Fisker and then stealing all the technology for themselves.

          Right, because we don't want the Chinese reducing CO2 in Asia. We only have to reduce CO2 in North America. Good thing CO2 doesn't cross international borders.

      • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:19PM (#43193269) Journal
        First off, companies like Solendra were very much Republican based. There initially were granted money from W, who held back at the last minute due to ppl bitching about W's funding of AE. Secondly, few of those companies put any more money into dems than they did into pubs.

        Secondly, there are many others that are hits, such as Tesla. In fact, if private enterprise had the success record of Chu, they would be lauded as being one of the most successful investors of all times.
        • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:32PM (#43193363)

          No problem agreeing with you on the fact that theft is a two party activity. The point is that this is just more money being pissed away while we go into a hole at a rate of around 100 billion dollars a month. Enough already!

          • Oh, I agree that we need to balance our budget and soon. However, the money that is going into Energy R&D is not wasted. That is useful money. The problem is when China subsidizes and dumps on the markets and we do nothing. That is just plain INSANE.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              If that money isn't wasted, then there is no problem with individuals voluntarily putting money into that enterprise. The state coercion in removing wealth from individuals to invest in some companies over others is subject to nonprice discrimination is plain insane.

              As for Chinese dumping -- saving the planet is great, why should we be concerned if other people choose to put money into the field? Is there something wrong if anyone other than the United States engages in some effort you like? Is it bad if mo

              • by RicktheBrick (588466) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:57PM (#43194877)
                Is it bad if more solar panels are made at a lower cost? Yes it is if it takes away American jobs and the government ends up paying more for unemployment insurance and health and welfare cost. Yes if it prevents American companies from investing in automated equipment that would allow them to sell their products at even a lower price. Shipping money to China so they can invest in American corporations and end up owning almost all of America is not a good idea.
            • Oh, I agree that we need to balance our budget and soon. However, the money that is going into Energy R&D is not wasted. That is useful money. The problem is when China subsidizes and dumps on the markets and we do nothing. That is just plain INSANE.

              So the money isn't wasted because it is used to prevent other people from selling us stuff at low prices?

              • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:26PM (#43194771) Journal
                So, let me see if I understand this.
                China subsidizes Steel companies in China back in the late 80's, and then dumps on western markets esp America destroying others. Once they took over the markets, then the prices are double what they would have been prior to China's dumping.
                From there, they do the same with electronics. We used to get cheap electronics here produced by Americans. Now, they are produced in China. Of course, a CHEAP smart phone here is around $150. Over in China, a cheap smart phone is $30.
                They did the same with clothing and then fabric. Moved on to our furniture.

                NOW, they flat out steal our R&D, subsidize the development in China and then dump it on our markets.
                In fact, to get our AE industry off the ground we provide subsidies that is open to any and all companies. OTOH, China subsidizes ONLY Chinese companies, but all is dumped on the global market.

                And you do not see an issue with this. Really?
                • by dbIII (701233)
                  The steel bit isn't quite like that - US steel became a protected industry with almost zero innovation so when gaps opened (like the loophole that let the Chinese contruction steel in) just about anybody on the planet could undercut the bunch of lazy idiots running most US steel companies. That's one of the reasons a lot of manufacturing requiring steel moved to Mexico then other places. The US steel industry priced itself out of the game just like the US cane sugar industry, and protection just made them
          • by joocemann (1273720) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:13PM (#43193951)

            Almost all of those green energy investments actually are working out. More than 95% of them are.

            That success rate of investment is higher than almost anything. Most new businesses fail. Most new business ipo are a crapshoot.

            When you stop focusing on the very low minority of failure (which we also know was induced by China) it was a huge success.

            We should pull all oil subsidies and invest in green tech. Those awesome new batteries from UCLA would be perfect.

            • by locopuyo (1433631)

              Almost all of those green energy investments actually are working out. More than 95% of them are.

              [citation needed]

          • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@yahoo.cMENCKENom minus author> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:26PM (#43194007)

            We have been giving welfare checks to oil companies since Rockefeller owned the government. Having that money shifted to clean energy might actually decrease the deficit. U.S. Oil companies still spend more money over seas than they do in North and South America combined. Ironically BP spends more in the Americas then U.S. based ones do; but, we take their money instead of the other way round.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:43PM (#43193435)

        Many of the companies went bankrupt quickly after getting the federal money and none of them produced anything usable.

        Err, no. The DOE loan program is actually performing better than congress expected when they created it in 2005. [whitehouse.gov] I'm willing to bet that you don't even know the name of one other company that received a DOE loan besides the three you've mentioned. As usual, reality is more complicated than sound-bites.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I love how tax breaks are referred to as "subsidy". It's not just this article, but it's still funny every time I see it.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I love how tax breaks are referred to as "subsidy". It's not just this article, but it's still funny every time I see it.

            How are they not a subsidy? What's the difference between a tax break and paying your full taxes and then getting a check back? Answer, nothing whatsoever.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              The difference is in one case you are giving someone money and in the other you are not taking their money. Yes, the math works out the same, but the method is important. I suspect people use the word to make it seem like the government is actively propping-up the entity, like welfare.

      • by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:50PM (#43193485)

        Can't argue that government subsidies of industry have a long history of being more about cronyism than anything else, so how about we "subsidize" green energy development in a completely even-handed manner governed by the free market? By phasing out the massive subsidies and environmental protection exemptions we're handing out to fossil fuel suppliers on an ongoing basis.

        As fuel prices begin to rise *every* green energy project will start to look more attractive to investors, and we can stimulate dramatic investment in the field while simultaneously reducing government expenditure. If we're worried about the chilling effect that would have on the poor and the broader economy we can repurpose those funds in terms of, say, a refundable tax credit so that most people and businesses will see no net change, but will have greater incentive to pursue energy efficiency which would provide a net increase in available funds versus the status quo.

        If we're worried about undermining domestic oil production versus foreign then fuel tariffs are the obvious answer. There may be some political fallout from that, but so long as they're tied to offset the reduction in subsidies I suspect most other governments actually wouldn't have a real problem with them, though they'd no doubt make some noise to gain political capital. Heck, earmark the tariff revenue for the tax refund coffers and everyone will see an immediate benefit except the oil companies. If we're willing to spend a bit of political capital and risk setting off a trade war we could even set the tariffs high enough to offset the loss in subsidies so that the domestic oil companies benefit as well.

        Seems like it could be a big win all around. Am I missing something?

      • by PixelScuba (686633) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:51PM (#43193487)
        Actually the number of companies folding under this program was even lower than congress thought... about 11% Maybe we have different interpretations of "maths" but a little more than 1/10 companies receiving clean energy loans and tax breaks isn't "many" to me. Fact Check talked about this several times during the campaign last year. [factcheck.org]
      • by Twinbee (767046)
        Risk comes into it sure. But for every Fisker, A123 or Solendra, you'll get the occasional success - say, Tesla. I for one can't wait until they begin to make electric cars below 20 grand.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:13PM (#43193623) Journal

        You will remember great hits like Solendra, A123, and Fisker.

        Last year, the US Department of Commerce slapped tariffs on Chinese solar panels [nytimes.com] after the WTO agreed that the Chinese were dumping (too late for Solyndra).
        And Solyndra is suing 3 Chinese solar companies under the Sherman anti-trust act [greentechmedia.com] for driving the company out of business

        The Chinese bought A123 [foxnews.com], with the US Government's approval.
        Fisker is the last man standing, but they're at the whim of their now-chinese-owned battery supplier, who has been trying to invalidate their previous contract.

        All your examples had negative narratives pushed by conservative media.
        Unfortunately, those narratives never actually had much relation to reality.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by CncRobot (2849261)

          Then get me back my $500 Million from Solyndra if it is as you say. That would cover 25% of this proposed new spending.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:48PM (#43193827) Homepage Journal

        Many of the companies went bankrupt quickly after getting the federal money

        How many? You named three. And how many "green energy" companies got federal funding?

        There were 27,226 federal awards listed in the stimulus bill for energy/environment. You've named three that failed. The three companies you mentioned were part of a specific group of those awards under the control of the Department of Energy that were meant just for new technologies. There were 28 such funding deals. Of those, four went under. Others in the successful group include a very successful battery company that's not far from where I live, which now supplies batteries automakers, including Japanese and Korean companies that build cars in the US. Batteries that are also exported. Other successes include companies that are building the smart grid and even a company whose technology is being used in the natural gas industry (you know, the fracking folks you love so much).

        Though the stimulus bill authorized $90 billion for green projects, about $80 billion was spent, and most of that on infrastructure. The group of 28 Dept of Energy awards totaled $34billion. It might be worth noting here that a study published this week estimates the cost of the Iraq War at $6trillion.

        You gotta look beyond just the right-wing talking points.

        [Source for the stimulus energy figures: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/04/politics/fact-check-green-energy [cnn.com]

        Source for the cost of the Iraq War: "Costs of War" project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/5584/20130315/cost-iraq-war-6-trillion-dollar-costofwar.htm [scienceworldreport.com] ]

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        I actually agree with you. "Seeding" companies and subsidizing loans seems to be something that the government is bad at. I don't, however, mind that we use the government to support fundamental research. I think the track record is much better here, and fundamental research - provided it is done openly - has a long-term public benefit. I'm not sure that using gas taxes is the way to go, but that is more of a political argument.

        The point is, private industry is not going to account for the fact that fossil

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      The problem is that we are subsidizing the oil companies for billions, then taxing the users for billions. Wouldn't it be easier to not subsidize the corporation and not tax the user? We end up with so much circular tax/subsidize, I don't think anyone really has a grasp on what's in place or why.
      • by Ichijo (607641) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:34PM (#43193381) Homepage Journal

        Let's also fix the market failures of air pollution and carbon emissions by internalizing their costs into the price of fossil fuels. If you agree that correcting market failures makes the free market more efficient, then you must be in favor of a carbon tax.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          How do you internalize a cost when you can't identify the cost?
          • by Immerman (2627577)

            But we can. We can make moderately good predictions as to what the long term environmental impacts of global warming will be under various CO2 production scenarios. We can also make reasonable predictions as to the economic economic impact of loss of farmland, increasingly violent weather, etc. will be. Normalize that cost in terms of $/ton of CO2 and then tax fossil fuels accordingly. At present it looks like even our worst-case predictions are actually pretty optimistic, but hey, lets go with the most

          • by Ichijo (607641)

            How do you internalize a cost when you can't identify the cost?

            We know that air pollution costs up to $1,600 per person annually in respiratory problems [foxnews.com]. We also know that the cost of climate change is estimated at around $20 per ton of CO2 [forbes.com]. Therefore, the costs can be identified and quantified.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Don't internalize it - make "carbon" a tradable commodity and try to constrain it at zero or some other satisfactory number. If someone wants to release it, they first have to buy the rights to do so from someone who is sequestering it.

            Personally, I think it's a waste of time since you'll never get China and other developing countries to sign on, but the solution to the problem is pretty straightforward - if maybe a bit bureaucratic and cumbersome. Better to start funding mitigation efforts :)

      • by reboot246 (623534)
        Just exactly how much do you want to pay for a gallon of gasoline?
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          If I take billions away from the subsidies and billions away from the consumer taxes, the cost to me will be roughly the same.
          • by crutchy (1949900)

            in the corporate world, penalties always get passed onto the customer, and windfalls always get passed onto the shareholder

            net effect: gas gets more expensive, stock price of oil companies increases

          • by kenh (9056) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @09:35PM (#43194323) Homepage Journal

            The "billions" the oil companies "receive" are really the simple deductions every other business is entitled to make - just like Apple gets to "write-off" research & development cost, so to do the oil companies. Just as GE gets to "write-off" capital investments, so to do the oil companies. And, they don't "receive" money from the government, they get to keep more of the money they earned.

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              Nope. They get "free" oil (according to BP's accounting) gifted to them from the Alaskan and US governments (depending on where it comes out of the ground). Not to mention the fact that the governemnt built the pipeline, as a subsidy/loan, to remove risk from the oil companies. That was a few billion dollars. No idea if it's all been paid back yet, it wasn't set up as an actual loan, but as a gift with fees.

              Not to mention that resource leases are often traded in a manner that doesn't result in wirele
  • by LenE (29922) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:05PM (#43193167) Homepage

    It is unfortunate that government is apt to pursue political solutions rather than viable practical solutions. That's the world we live in.

    The premise here is that gas and oil companies should be punished, and their gains should be confiscated and given to other companies with better intentions. The real world truth is that there are no oil or gas companies anymore, and there hasn't been for the last fifteen years, at least.

    No, what used to be oil companies have all become energy companies. They all invest heavily in alternative energy technologies, because they have the most to lose if anything does become viable and threatens their current revenue generators. I've spoken with several former CEO's of these former oil companies, and they were, to a person, fixated on the end of oil and the emergence of alternative energy sources. I left these conversations wondering why these CEO's were more pro-alternative than any environmentalist I had ever met.

    The government confiscation of funds from these companies, and the eventual redistribution to campaign donors fronting "new" energy companies will only slow down the discovery of practical and sustainable alternative energy sources.

    -- Len

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      The premise here is that gas and oil companies should be punished, and their gains should be confiscated and given to other companies with better intentions.

      We don't need to take away their gains, that would be wrong. But, we can take away their subsidies. If you are making billions per year then you do not need a subsidy.

      • by LenE (29922) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:16PM (#43193235) Homepage

        The plan to collect $2 billion from oil and gas revenues is a tax. These companies don't get subsidies for being oil companies. They get tax credits for R&D investment, like any other company in the US. Politicians call these subsidies, like some call tax cuts spending, when a lowering of a tax rate is not an expenditure.

        When a politician states that they want to eliminate the subsidies to oil companies, they are talking about not giving them tax credits for R&D, like any other company. As I mentioned in my first post, this R&D is largely in alternative and clean energy research. Removing the tax credits for these energy companies is counter to the professed intention of supporting alternative energy.

        -- Len

        • by Nidi62 (1525137)

          The plan to collect $2 billion from oil and gas revenues is a tax. These companies don't get subsidies for being oil companies. They get tax credits for R&D investment, like any other company in the US. Politicians call these subsidies, like some call tax cuts spending, when a lowering of a tax rate is not an expenditure.

          When a politician states that they want to eliminate the subsidies to oil companies, they are talking about not giving them tax credits for R&D, like any other company. As I mentioned in my first post, this R&D is largely in alternative and clean energy research. Removing the tax credits for these energy companies is counter to the professed intention of supporting alternative energy.

          -- Len

          If they are doing R&D on alternative energy, then who is to say that those research programs won't qualify for this funding? And I'm sorry, but not giving away free money is not a "tax".

          • by LenE (29922) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:36PM (#43193391) Homepage

            The money is not given away. It is a tax credit for R&D. What you seem to be suggesting is that some types of R&D are more worthy for receiving a tax break. In the larger picture of a national economy, R&D spending prepares for economic growth through either finding ways to lower cost, or produce a better product. It is incentivized in the tax code, to promote economic growth.

            Carving out specific areas for different rates, is just meddling. The law of unintended consequences will guarantee that the recipients of these proposed grants will have very little to do with the professed goal. A few years ago, I saw many academic papers tack on the words "with nanotechnology" in an attempt to gain funding. Most of the projects had nothing to do with nano anything. In a similar way, these grants will go to alternative energy shams that have nothing viable in the way of technology, but loads of good intentions.

            Why give money to the government to have a small portion given back? This is a policy that is anti-growth, except for governmental growth.

            Not sure what free money you are talking about.

            -- Len

          • by amiga3D (567632)

            All companies get tax credit for research and development because that is a legitimate business expense. It's not profit but it helps build their ability to compete. I don't get why you fail to understand a basic principal of business that has existed for decades. To tax a company on money they spend in research is basically to destroy that company although if they target all oil and gas companies they will all simply raise prices and their customers will pay the tax. Thus people struggling to survive i

        • by Sloppy (14984) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:26PM (#43193683) Homepage Journal

          These companies don't get subsidies for being oil companies.

          Suppose Iraq were to invade Kuwait, and as a result, market experts predicted that oil prices would go up, long-term. One example of a subsidy for being an oil company, would be to use public funds (collected as income taxes or through currency inflation) to send military forces out to kick Iraq's ass our of Kuwait.

          Suppose people typically used oil in a manner that tore its molecules apart to release energy, and then they dumped the resulting lower-energy molecules into the public atmosphere where they don't just magically go away, and where most physics-based (as opposed to faith-based) models predict the waste products cause various undesired side-effects at public expense. An example of a subsidy, would be to knowingly allow this pollution to happen, without making the oil users do something to clean up the CO2, or if they can't do that, charging them a fee for inefficient government programs to clean up the CO2.

          The two examples of subsidies that I gave, both turn out to be real, rather than merely hypothetical. You might even call these subsidies good ideas if you insist, but let's not pretend they're not subsidies. These are examples of government using its power to artificially distort the energy market toward oil being more relatively affordable than competing energy sources, and these political decisions have the effect of reducing the natural free market incentives for developing clean[er] energy. ("Picking winners and losers" in Republicanese, if that helps anyone understand it.)

          Like I said, some people may be able to make a good case for this manipulation of the market. I just want everyone to admit we're doing it, that's it's not something a tech-neutral, or a free-market-uber-alles, government would do. And somehow, I have a hunch that once we start acknowledging that, the case for how it's a good idea, may be challenged. It'll be a good debate.

        • Well that's not how I read the article, they are taking the lease revenues to the govenment, from the general fund and ear-marking it for "clean energy research" and who is going to makeup the resultant revenue shortfall? It's not going to be the bottom 47% who's not paying taxes and it's not going to be the top 15% who pay little taxes, nope it's going to be the middle-class, that ones Obama promised not to raise taxes on!

    • Any chance there's public documentation on this? My cynical side is finding it hard to believe that people whose main source of profit is petroleum would even consider switching to a renewable source. I'd like to believe it, but it is tough.
      • by amiga3D (567632)

        If they have control of the technology? Where's the downside? They get rid of the problem of the crazy people who own the oil and now have cut overhead and can still control price.

      • Why is it so hard to believe? Companies that refuse to recognize and adapt to changing markets are the ones that go out of business. The smart ones are the ones that realize their product is not a market unto itself, but is rather part of a larger market (in this case, energy, not oil) and diversify appropriately.

        For instance, when folks think of Coca-Cola, they naturally think of it as a soda brand. Despite that, the Coca-Cola executives were smart enough to recognize quite awhile ago that they were in the

      • Any chance there's public documentation on this? My cynical side is finding it hard to believe that people whose main source of profit is petroleum would even consider switching to a renewable source. I'd like to believe it, but it is tough.

        It would be hard to believe if oil were some infinite resource that they could milk forever. But it's not, it's peaked, and we all know it. What would be "hard to believe" is that they're sitting on their hands while the oil runs out and their current business model goes down the drain.

      • Trust me, these energy company would much rather have renewables profitable, and sell their dwindling petrolium oil as high profit boutique chemicals than sell them as low profit commodity goods. When these big-boys figure that the renewables ROI and profit margins are right, the rapidity of their penetration into that market will be mind-boggleing. The existing renewable companies will either be consumed or crushed, and the good 'ol boys in energy will still be the good 'ol boys.

    • by ras (84108)

      Right. The music industry is fixated on the Internet too, as is newspaper, magazine and book publishing businesses. They are, or at least were the ones with the money, so by your argument they should be leading the charge away shifting information using dead trees and plastic disc's to using bits and bytes instead.

      Except, that isn't how it worked out, is it? Just like Microsoft should be leading the charge to in bring a solid working browser to the masses, it isn't going t happen.

      I would have thought the

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:15PM (#43193229)

    It's probably a bit much for the private sector to fund projects to support political strategy with planning horizons measured in decades.

    With private business, particularly in the US (and increasingy in Europe) where their management tend to be infested with barely educated cookie-cutter MBA pindicks who are incapable of planning beyond the next reporting season, you just can't expect much.

    Thus, if I actually cared about the West, and the sort of world we want to see for our grandkids, I would like to see a partnership of business and industry, rather than letting business to their own devices. Because you know those slimy dicks would have us enslaved by the Chinese and the Arabs if they thought they could make next quarter's sales targets.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:16PM (#43193245) Journal
    1) bump federal tax on gas/diesel by .20 this year. .10 to go to R&D (which should also be used for oil/gas, coal, and nukes), and .1 to go to fed/state DOTs. The .1 from diesel (which is mostly interstate trucking) goes to the feds, while the .1 increase from gas goes to the state's DOT. Then next year, increase it .1 again, but all of that goes to the DOTs. Do that for the next 4 years.
    2) put some of the federal DOT money into pushing CNG/LNG/electrical charging stations along the federal highways.
    3) allow keystone to go through.
    4) increase oil/NG drilling offshore and in various federal lands, but with an eye towards keeping the environment clean.
    5) put together a COTs type fund for thorium nuclear power along with some money for the possible fusion reactor that livermore has.
    6) put together a tax incentive to get coal=>methane going. That is relatively clean energy and interestingly, produces a number of elements that we need esp. U and Th.

    The word is COMPROMISE.
    • Can somebody tell me why they can't put a refinery up in Canada, or even in ND where there is lots of oil. Running a pipeline all the way across the country just so this tar sand oil can be put through refineries that are going to be shut down by the storms in the gulf which are getting bigger due to climate change seems silly.

      • Actually, they SHOULD run a pipeline over to wisc and put in a new refinery along with a thorium nuke plant to provide the heat.
        The problem is, that north America's oil needs are NOT going up. They are pretty steady. And with a push towards NG and electric vehicles, then our oil needs will drop.

        Finally note, that Keystone is NOT about getting oil to America. It is about getting oil to refineries in Texas who will then ship those oil products out. America will generally gain nothing out of keystone, with
  • These days, and this is only an unsubstantiated instinct not anything backed by fact, it seems like "clean energy" is more akin to "perpetual motion" than science. That goes for "clean" coal as well, which is truly in unicorn territory.

    I'd like to see a detailed offering of what he intends to fund, and what concessions he's willing to make on "actual energy" solutions in the interim, rather than allow a blank check to be written for what amounts to venture capital measures.

  • Will the cash be going to this go around?
  • Let's see some Butanol [altenergystocks.com].

    Let's see the money the US government spent on biodiesel research at Sandia NREL in the 1980s [nrel.gov] bear some fruit.

  • "But the president still faces an uphill battle passing any major energy law, given how politicized programs to promote clean energy have become in the wake of high-profile failures of government-backed companies that were owned and run by Obama's friends and campaign donors."

    Fixed it.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Right...because no company that donates to a campaign or has friends in the government should ever get money.

      I'm guessing you don't know much about Solyndra. They had an amazing product. Much better, cleaner solar panels that would have sold and been profitable. The problem was China (where environmental concerns aren't an issue) started producing cheap solar panels and the price dropped dramatically which pushed Solyndra out of the market.
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:20PM (#43193651)
    So we're the Saudi Arabia of natural gas and coal, and have vast amounts of oil to last for decades at minimum. Why does he want to spend our money on this?
  • like biofuels (inefficient solar collectors that don't scale without ecologically disastrous consequences), ethanol (breakeven or negative net energy) are obvious losers. This is something that needs science oversight, not political oversight. Political oversight gets you ethanol, or whatever idiocy gets you elected next term. You need people who can handle math and physics for this one, not senators.

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