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Friday, November 7, 2008

More on President-elect Obama's Energy Priorities

The New York Times posted a Q&A with a number of energy and enviromental gurus over at their Green Inc. blog. Note the pessimism of the first expert, Vaclav Smil, who tells us not to get our hopes up for some type of overnight changes from the Obama administration. I see his point, but I think the differences between the Obama administrations approach to energy policy and the current administration's approach will be night and day. Oil executives will no longer drive the agenda of the White House when it comes to energy policy. That major change right there is reason to be hopeful that we will start to see progress towards energy indpendence and reasonable policies addresssing climate change. We are not expecting President-elect Obama to make us energy self sufficient by the end of his second term, but we are expecting him him to put us on a path towards energy independence. This blog will be cheering him but we will be critiquing his decisions as well.

Vaclav Smil, a professor at the University of Manitoba who has authored numerous books on global energy issues, told us informally that anyone expecting Mr. Obama to “transform the world” will be quickly disabused of the idea — particularly when it comes to energy policy. “The degree of disappointment that must follow such a gross naivete will be phenomenal,” Mr. Smil wrote.

“There will be precious little of any rapid change,” he added, “as
energy systems are inherently inertial and as energy transitions take decades to
accomplish. Besides, he will preside over a bankrupt nation.”

Also participating their Q&A:

Roger Ballentine, the chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force during the Clinton administration and now the president of Green Strategies, an energy and environmental consulting firm in Washington.
Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow and director of climate change strategy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning policy research organization in Washington.
Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, an association of shareholder-owned utilities.
Carol Raulston, senior vice president for communications at the National Mining Association, a trade group in Washington.
Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club.

Below are the list of questions that the experts answered via email. The URLs will take you to their answers.

1) What should the new administration’s top three energy priorities be? What can and should the administration push in terms of energy in its first 100 days?
2) What do the election results signify for the future of renewable energy?
3) How likely is it that a meaningful cap-and-trade bill to limit carbon-dioxide emissions will pass Congress and be signed by the President in the next year?
4) After 4 years, will the new administration have moved us closer to severing our dependence on foreign oil?

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