Being sick and somewhat out of sorts, I only half-listened to the SOTU speech (text) on Tuesday. But what I heard did nothing to change my opinion of our lame duck President.
I heard plenty of weasel-phrases, and the anemic goals reminded me of "the soft bigotry of low expectations". Twenty percent over ten years? This is just over three times the rate of last year's 0.6% OECD reduction. The USA's consumption of petroleum products is roughly 45% gasoline; if the US had eked out the same 0.6% cut from gasoline alone, it would come to a 1.33% cut in gasoline consumption - already 2/3 of Bush's stated goal. Given gasoline prices in the $3.00 range again, this appears likely to happen all by itself.
We need to aim closer to 50% over 10 years, and 100% over 20. We can do it, with PHEV's, movement of freight to rail and niche biofuels. But Bush's map goes straight into the swamp.
The other weasel phrase is "cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East." Let's examine this phrase in detail:
All in all, this was one for the Hall of Shame. I would have been even more disappointed than after last year's "addicted to oil" speech... if I'd had any expectations. He did nothing substantive about the problem before, and I expect nothing better from him unless he has no other options. (Cynicism has its benefits; you can be pleasantly surprised, but rarely crushed.)
Now it falls to the barely-Democratic Congress to craft the policies we need, the policies we should have had on the "URGENT" list since 9/11/2001. Will they be able to get around an administration joined at the hips to the oil industry, willing to use executive power to obstruct and even destroy (EPA libraries, NASA earth-observation programs) anything unfriendly to its power base? Only time will tell.
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