I am working on a critique of President-elect Obama’s energy proposals. I am working to complete this before Monday, as I fly back to Europe then and will be quite busy for a few days. While I work on this, I thought I would provide the highlights of his proposals without commenting yet.
I think Obama’s choice of Secretary of Energy is going to be a strong indicator of whether he is going to declare open warfare on the oil companies, or whether he is going to try to work with them. I have seen Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell floated as a possible candidate. I think that signals that open warfare is the direction, as Rendell has been quite a demagogue over the oil companies.
As I documented before, Rendell is someone who doesn’t seem to see the connection between the ‘drive anywhere, anytime’ mentality and high gas prices. He wants to have the convenience of hopping in his suburban to drive two blocks, and then he wants to punish the oil companies because prices are too high. By suggesting a rebate (paid by the oil companies) based on how many miles you drove, he actually wants to reward the people who drive the most. This is genius: Reduce supply with a windfall profits tax, while at the same time increasing demand with a reward to those who drive the most. Fundamentally, I don’t think Rendell has an understanding of the nature of the problems we face.
I have also seen Arnold Schwarzenegger floated as a possible candidate. I think he would be a good choice, as would former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson (although my guess is that he may end up Secretary of State). Both are pretty knowledgeable about energy issues.
You can read through all of Obama’s proposals on his website at New Energy for America. Here is a summary, from Obama’s site, of the highlights. One thing that didn’t make the highlights is that Obama reportedly intends to continue to pursue our current ethanol policies.
Provide Short-term Relief to American Families
• Enact a Windfall Profits Tax to Provide a $1,000 Emergency Energy Rebate to American Families.
• Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation.
• Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices.
Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years
• Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
• Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015.
• Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
• Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
• A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases.
• Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.
Create Millions of New Green Jobs
• Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
• Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
• Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
• Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
• Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
• Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
• Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.
I will have details and comments as soon as possible.