Monday, November 01, 2004

Energy Policies - Head to Head
Friday I indicated that I would devote today's blog to a review of John Kerry's energy proposals. On further reflection, it made more sense to do a head-to-head comparison between President Bush and Senator Kerry on key energy initiatives. The result shows a remarkable degree of overlap in some areas, and strong divergence in others.

In a nutshell, beyond both men supporting various measures to increase the use of renewable energy, ethanol and biodiesel; to expand research into hydrogen and its associated technology; and to reward consumers for buying more fuel-efficient cars. President Bush emphasizes expanded production of conventional energy (oil, gas and nuclear) in the US--including the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, which Senator Kerry explicitly rules out--while the Senator promotes higher targets for automobile fuel efficiency (without directly saying he would reform the CAFE system or remove the SUV loophole) and a clear target for the country to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

I was a bit surprised, though, when I studied the energy portions of the Kerry/Edwards official website. Much of the impressive background detail that I found on the Kerry website back in February was gone. In its place is a lot of negative discussion of the President's energy policies, including this highly partisan "head-to-head comparison", along with bold claims about "energy independence", a mythical notion if there ever was one. I find the shift disturbing, because I thought the earlier material was refreshing, well thought out, and generally conveyed a more positive and practical program. The end result is closer to the superficiality I saw when I examined Senator Edwards' energy proposals during the primaries.

My own side-by-side policy comparison of the two candidates' energy proposals appears below. Despite the overlaps, I think it demonstrates a clear choice of emphasis between the two men, with the President leaning toward supply-side solutions, and the challenger to demand-side measures. If you've read my previous postings on energy security, you know I believe that serious work is needed on both sides of the balance, in order to prevent our current energy position from deteriorating further. Some other commentators have found both campaigns' proposals inadequate.

I should also point out that in the table below, an overlap does not mean identical programs or funding levels, merely an area in which both candidates have articulated something meaningful. (Also please pardon the formatting; I was unable to insert the table I created in Excel.)

Increase oil exploration, including ANWR-------X
Alaska natural gas pipeline-------------------------X----------X
Promote LNG-----------------------------------------X
Facilitate new refinery construction---------------X
Nuclear power----------------------------------------X
Electricity reliability---------------------------------X
Energy-efficient homes------------------------------X----------X
Energy-efficient communities----------------------X
Fuel economy incentives (hybrids)----------------X----------X
Car fuel economy targets----------------------------------------X
Clean Coal technology------------------------------X-----------X
Clean Coal retrofit funding-------------------------------------X
Hydrogen R&D---------------------------------------X-----------X
Renewable energy tax credits----------------------X-----------X
20% renewable energy goal-------------------------------------X

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