US energy policy: beyond Paris

August 8th, 2008 | by andrew |

This week we focus almost exclusively on US energy policy – the show’s now available on Radio4All, Audioport, and Indymedia Radio. Bob recently blogged about the topic on Huffington Post, where he framed his piece as a critique of Paris Hilton’s energy policy – or rather the idea propagated in her (rather funny) video, as well as in much of the media, that off-shore drilling could ‘fill the gap’ until structural changes (‘re-tooling Detroit’) proposed by Obama come on stream. Critically, Bob cites US Energy Information Administration analysis, which CEPR summarizes thusly:

Senator McCain’s proposal would have no impact in the near-term since it will be close to a decade before the first oil can be extracted from the currently protected offshore areas. The EIA projects that production will reach 200,000 barrels a day (0.2 percent of projected world production) at peak production in close to twenty years. It describes this amount as too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.

Note that EIA are part of the administration, charged with producing non-partisan policy-neutral analysis.

So, we start by discussing the frame of current debate, work through the various aspects of US energy policy, and focus on areas that would produce meaningful benefits – having first clarified what we mean (and should mean) by ‘benefits.’ Improved diplomacy with Iran would result in significant increases in world production, in much shorter timescales. Obama’s (much ridiculed) call for small individual measures (better tire pressure in cars, etc.) would indeed produce as much gains as McCain’s proposals – now rather than in 10 years. Increased fuel efficiency standards, had the US continued to increase them at the same rate as the early 1980s, would have yielded 16 times what off-shore drilling would provide – and that would be a permanent gain, rather than a temporary, finite bump.

Before we close (with a 3 minute summary of world news to watch) we look at issues around transit, cycling, and similar alternatives.

All told, a fun show, and one I hope listeners find interesting.

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