Echoing public sentiment, President Bush has been talking a lot about energy in his latest round of speeches. In order to deflect criticism over steadily rising fuel prices, Bush wants to build new oil refineries on decommissioned military bases around the country. The President would also like to expand eligibility for a proposed tax credit on fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles to cars and trucks that burn “clean diesel” fuel, while increasing federal authority over the siting of onshore liquefied natural gas terminals, four of which now exist with several dozen others awaiting federal approval. Bush also has renewed his push to expand America’s nuclear power capabilities. These newly proposed measures go above and beyond what’s called for in the current version of the administration’s energy bill now making its way through Congress.
The White House is quick to point out that the new proposals are not expected to produce any short-term relief for surging energy prices. “The problems we are facing today and the ones we seek to address have been a long time in the making,” said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. “The benefits of these policies would be some time in the development.” McClellan went on to say that the White House wants to show how technologies can be harnessed to diversify the country’s energy mix and thus reduce dependence on foreign oil imports.
Some analysts question the President’s premise in working to increase capacity of non-renewable fossil fuel resources like so-called “clean” coal and the expansion of domestic oil refining. “They’re not getting at the core problem, which is that we need to do something in this country to truly reduce our consumption of energy,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, senior energy analyst at Texas-based Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “Rather than getting a tax incentive to buy a diesel car, I’d rather see a tax penalty for choosing to buy a gas guzzler.”