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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 @04:57PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:02PM (#43193149)

    So-called 'green' energy (which happens to not be very environmentally friendly once production and disposal is included) isn't ready for prime time and trying to force an evolution in the technology by blindly throwing money at it is a case study in insanity. All you are going to do is hurt people by making every day living more expensive for little to no gain. It will happen organically on its own, it doesn't need government intervention.

  • by LenE (29922) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:05PM (#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 CncRobot (2849261) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:05PM (#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.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:13PM (#43193217)

    I still can't believe you morons elected him. Twice.

    We elected Bush twice as well. You are just now noticing the voters are morons?

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:32PM (#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!

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:34PM (#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 LenE (29922) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:05PM (#43193571) Homepage

    With all due respect that an AC deserves, you need to get out of your bubble more.

    Wind energy is probably the biggest boondoggle in the last 50 years. From my kitchen table, I can currently see ~350 windmills, and there are nearly 6,000 in a 20 mile radius of my house. Wind energy remains ludicrously expensive, and only makes a profit by using a lot of other people's money. When the tax credits run out, all of the windmills surrounding me are idled.

    When oil hit $140 a barrel, about half of the windmills around me were idled. Why is that? Well, each one required a 55 gallon barrel of lubricant, a week. When oil spiked, they were not economically viable, even with the hefty tax credits they earned by just existing. I won't touch the low wind or high wind conditions that also idle the fields. The demand for these wind farms are primarily politically sourced, rather than any reality based economic decision.

    Solar may be improving, but they are very far from being cost competitive. The manufacture of hybrid cars share much of the same environmental problems that plague the manufacture of windmills. Rare earths and nickel mines are very problematic, and energy intensive.

    Good intentions do not make these things good. Continued research and development may one day make them truly viable, but that day is not on the immediate horizon.

    The profit motive of the energy companies is all that they need to invest in new alternatives. They are constantly working against brain-dead regulations dreamed up by science-illiterate politicians, and are always looking at how to best cope with them. If and when any of them come up with an alternative, you can be sure it will be viable, or on course to be economically viable in less than a decade.

    Far more is currently gained with energy conservation technologies, rather than alternative energy production. LED lights and Energy Star certifications are great, the former not getting any government money until the L-Prize. The winner of this contest was developed in advance, because Philips saw the path to profits. Prices will drop soon enough, with scaling of manufacture.

    -- Len

  • by CncRobot (2849261) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:22PM (#43193663)

    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 Sloppy (14984) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:26PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:35PM (#43193741)

    More than the pissing hole that is the F35?

  • by crutchy (1949900) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:50PM (#43193833)

    if you want progress, you MUST make dirty technology more expensive than green technology... that is the ONLY way, and that has not happened

    it won't happen organically... that is an ignorant farce and shows a lack of understanding of how businesses think

    if we don't artificially make dirty tech more expensive, then it will only happen when dirty tech becomes naturally more expensive (when oil and other resources become more scarce... hence more expensive)

    the problem is if you wait for depletion to drive up the cost, it's already too late

    government intervention in economics is generally a bad idea, but making pollution into a commodity may not require a lot of government intervention

    in Australia we have a carbon "tax", but after about 2015 it will evolve into an emissions trading scheme, which will hand more control over to the free market without eliminating it altogether

    when companies can either make or save money by going green, they will be more likely to do it

    placing faith in corporate or human ethics and morals is simply foolish

    humans have been, are, and will always be driven by greed and self-interest.... the key is to make going green valuable

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:13PM (#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 ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:18PM (#43193975)

    ... 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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:10PM (#43194187)

    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.
     
      WHO.... GIVES.... A.... FUCK??????
     
     
    I am so sick and tired of this partisan bullshit and it being used an excuse as to why something is or is not good according to whomever under whatever administration. Throwing away money is throwing away money regardless of who the fuck throws it away. Is that such a hard concept for you fucking partisan shitballs? Is it so important to you that your little fucking shit eater party looks good that you'll damn the facts and fuck the future just to feel good about your fucking retarded fucking asshole political shit party? You're fucking all of us and I'm fucking sick of you fucking partisan fucks.

  • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @09:05PM (#43194457) Journal

    He provided evidence. You refuted his post, but provided no such evidence yourself. If it is as true as you say, surely you are capable of providing said evidence. As you are making the counter-assertion, it is completely on you to provide it, not on the rest of us to dig around for it.

    And, I hope you realize that you are equally guilty of 1. But Obama and 2. Attacking the poster.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:26PM (#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?
  • State visible hand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by manu0601 (2221348) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:57PM (#43194875)
    We have reached oil peak, or will be reach it soon. Oil will tend to get more and more scarce and expensive. Market invisible hand seems unable to do anything about it (except lying about reserves), therefore it is high time that state visible hand gets involved. At least if we want to avoid chaos where we will have to choose between food, transport, or oil wars.
  • by joocemann (1273720) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @12:48AM (#43195259)

    500 million is a drop in the bucket of things you should be worried about, and, again, was a very minor loss in a pool of successful choices.

    This is just like the 32 million dollar muffins that the DOJ was buying each year and the news made a big deal about.

    80BN in yearly oil subsidies for an archaic and dangerous system that is already highly profitable? And you're moaning about 1/160th of that, and its not even a yearly cost. PFfft.

    Tornadoes in Teacups. You will forever be upset until you gain a grasp of the words SIGNIFICANCE, MAGNITUDE, etc.

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