President Bush used an appearance at a Virginia biodiesel plant last week to campaign for passage of his energy plan, part of which calls for increasing the production of alternative fuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil sources. The President cited a federal study projecting that renewables, like biodiesel (which comes from plant material) and alcohol-based ethanol, could provide as much as a fifth of the nation’s transportation fuel by 2030.
But this push for alternatives needs to be put in perspective, as the White House energy plan also calls for major increases in domestic oil production and refinery capacity. With House passage of the latest version of the energy bill last month, and Senate approval expected shortly, Bush hopes to finally have his cake and eat it too. Previous versions of the embattled legislation have repeatedly stalled out in the Senate due to its overall costs as well as contentious provisions to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to grant manufacturers of the fuel additive MTBE protection from litigation concerning the substance’s potential contamination of water supplies.
And in a classic case of “do as I say not as I do,” the President told supporters at the biodiesel plant that he would ask the leaders of the world’s other industrialized nations at the upcoming G8 summit to help developing nations such as China and India create their own renewable energy infrastructures so as to lessen overall demand for the world’s dwindling oil reserves. But indeed, most of the other G8 leaders, who are committed to reducing fuel use themselves as signatories to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, might find such a request from the former oil man running the show at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to be funny perhaps and hypocritical for sure.