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Dr. Chu, energy, gas prices and coal
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, December 20, 2008

In my "road trip from hell" this week (1,600 miles and 5 states), I found myself paying about $1.49 a gallon for gas. And, it may go a bit lower.

Of course that's not something Barack Obama's pick for Energy Secretary is particularly happy about:
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," Mr. Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September.
The WSJ article claims that Obama is not a fan of that sort of action:
But Mr. Obama has dismissed the idea of boosting the federal gasoline tax, a move energy experts say could be the single most effective step to promote alternative energies and temper demand. Mr. Obama said Sunday that a heightened gas tax would be a "mistake" because it would put "additional burdens on American families right now."
Read that carefully. Thus far, the only change the President-elect has demonstrated is his ability to change his mind about things he promised during his campaign. So you have to take his "dismissal" with a grain of salt and remember the same guy dismissing this claimed that the $4 a gallon price was actually a good thing but went up too fast. He also claimed that his cap and trade plan would make energy prices "skyrocket". So his dismissal of Chu's desire to have gas prices at the European level may be temporary at best.

As everyone knows, we have an impending energy crisis on our hands. Demand continues to grow but the plans for meeting that demand are well behind the power curve - no pun intended - and if the necessary facilities are not approved and built soon, we're going to experience shortages and outages. Given the dearth of marketable "alternative energy" sources, traditional sources of energy are the likely means with which to fill this energy gap.

And coal fired plants are by far the cheapest to build and easiest to get on line quickly. But, again, that's not likely to be something which happens under an Obama administration:
Big Coal won’t be very happy if Dr. Chu gets confirmed as head of the DOE—he’s really, really not a big fan. “Coal is my worst nightmare,” he said repeatedly in a speech earlier this year outlining his lab’s alternative-energy approaches.
Nuclear? Not a particularly big fan of that either:
“The waste and proliferation issues [surrounding nuclear power] still haven’t been completely solved,” he said. A big part of the Department of Energy’s job is to oversee nuclear weapons and waste storage. And the Obama campaign made clear that increased reliance on nuclear power will require finding a “safe” way to dispose of radioactive waste.
Of course the fact that France derives 80% of its energy from nuclear power and has a safe, and completely different way of processing its spent fuel (so that there isn't much waste at all) doesn't seem to penetrate this mantra.

Apparently we're going to wait on the vaporware to develop before we address the impending energy gap. You have to wonder if the coming brownout and blackouts will be enough to bring these people back to earth - this earth - and have them reconsider their absolutist rubbish about CO2 and AGW in time to avoid the possible electric grid collapse under their watch.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

"additional burdens on American families right now."
The "right now" part shows what he really thinks. If the economy was doing fine he wouldn’t hesitate to raise the gas tax.
Written By: jjmurphy

"Coal is my worst nightmare,"

Really? No electricity is mine.

" increased reliance on nuclear power will require finding a "safe" way to dispose of radioactive waste"

If burying it deep underground in unpopulated areas with no ground water to worry about isn’t safe, what is? The Green answer is, of course, nothing is safe.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
As I started reading this, my MP3 started playing Steely Dan’s "Doctor Wu".
Are you with me, Doctor Chu?

Written By: Bithead
We can thank Jimmy Carter for the lack of breeder reactors (which minimize the waste issue). However, breeders do produce weapons grade products, no doubt what the "proliferation" remarke was about . . .
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Oh noes Obama’s a pragmatist! The randroids around here must be slashing their wrists about now.
Written By: TomD
URL: http://

Here’s another way to get gas prices higher.

I would suggest any plans like this wait until we are out of the recession though. Even then, I would worry about the WTO and also what the politicians would do with the tax revenue.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The ridiculous thing about The Clown™ is that he said differing things to different people during the campaign. Higher gas prices? He was for them. Lower gas prices? He was for that, too. Higher taxes on the rich? Yep, he was for that. Now, no higher taxes for the rich. It could hurt the economy. But if it hurts the economy, why do it all?

See the problem? The morons who voted for The Clown™ didn’t realize that they were buying into a plan by a man whois, simply, a man with no record. If you vote for Candidate A, who has served for 20 years, you can pretty much get the flavor of what he or she stands for after such a long period of service. But whn you vote to install a man who four short years ago was an unknown and undistinguished Illinois state Senator, who has no firm record on mch of anything, you get a pile of dung that The Clown™ is piling on every one of us.

I spoke with a long-time friend last night in Florida, and she told me she voted for Obama because Palin scared her. "What if McCain died? We would be stuck with a woman with no experience." When I pointed out that Obama had no experience, she agreed, then realized that her agreement undercut her vote for that empty suit.

Just wait until the first major international challenge, and Obama freezes like a cup of water in a snowstorm, the way he froze when the Russkies invaded Georgia. It will awaken the world to the fact that the reins of power in this country are in the hands of man who doesn’t know his a$$ from his elbow.
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
How about a gasoline tax linked to the sale price in reverse.... so the % tax declines when gasoline retail price rises and rises when retail price rises? That would tend to put a floor under retail price to encourage alternative fuels.
Written By: John Chase
URL: http://
CORRECTED: How about a gasoline tax linked to the sale price in reverse.... so the % tax declines when gasoline retail price rises and falls when retail price rises? That would tend to put a floor under retail price to encourage alternative fuels.
Written By: John Chase
URL: http://
This will be Obama’s big undoing. Even as we move into a recover, which I believe will happen, we will face a huge energy crunch in about two years that will make the one this summer seem mild.

They are blinded by ideology and have precisely all the wrong approaches and wrong instincts.
Written By: kyleN
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