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September 16, 2012

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"But, but, but....that's picking winners and losers!"

"Ay, yes it is, grasshopper. But do not subsidies and tax breaks for the oil and gas industries do the same thing?"

Moral of the story: If you can't muster the political will to capture the true cost of carbon based energy externalities, why, try something else.

The strive for "energy independence" and/or a "reliable source of energy" explains a great deal of US policy for the past, what, 80 years?

At a minimum, it gives the 5th Fleet something to do.

From the Atlantic link:

A few reminders about Solyndra: It was an incredibly innovative company with an entirely new approach to solar, and it attracted $1 billion in private capital. The Bush administration selected it from among 143 applicants for the program's first loan; it didn't quite get completed before Bush left office, but it was at the top of the pile when Obama took over, and Republican investigators found nothing in the 300,000 pages of documents they subpoenaed to suggest there was anything hinky or political about the decision to award the loan. The company had an impressive customer list, from Frito-Lay to Southern California Edison, and its revenues were soaring when it failed. Its problem was a spectacular drop in solar prices, which was terrible for its business model as a manufacturer, but great for the U.S. solar industry, which has increased installations 600 percent since the stimulus passed.

But Obama toured the plant!

Yes, he toured the plant and took credit for the success of his energy initiative standing in front of the plant. It's great to hear now he didn't really have anything to do with it, except in areas where there is progress. Just like he didn't have anything to do with the Volt (which GM just halted production on to reduce inventories) except when he doe stry to take credit for something that was in the works years before he was in office. Just like he didn't pass TARP (except he takes credit for saving the financial system).

He takes credit for ending the war in Iraq, by just leaving alone what was negotiated and signed in the Bush administration. In Afghanistan he takes credit for "bringing the troops home", yet he sent 100,000 of them there after he became President.

He takes credit for the US being more energy independent, yet that is driven by tax cuts passed in the Bush years. Those cuts, of course, he says are unfair and should be repealed.

And the economy is Bushes fault, because that happened before he became President.

In every part of his reelection story, if its bad it is someone elses fault, if it's good he did it. And in the case of some things, like energy independence, it's both.

He is willing to take credit for anything and responsibility for nothing.

It's great to hear now he didn't really have anything to do with it, except in areas where there is progress.

Beating the straw again, huh? The point is that failures will occur in R&D, that there was nothing particularly unusual about Solyndra's failure, and that it wasn't entirely Obama's doing that they got a government loan.

There's also nothing unusual about candidates taking credit for successes they had little hand in and distancing themselves from failures they had a significant hand in. Perhaps we can address the validity of given claims one at a time, rather than jumping from a particular case that is relevant to the subject at hand right to everything anyone might bring up.

BTW, don't confuse TARP and the financial system with overall stimulus and the economy.

Obama sounds suspiciously like America.

Obama sounds suspiciously like America.

Thread over. :-)

I have a very clear understanding of the difference between TARP and the stimulus. One of my biggest complaints about the stimulus was that much of it was not STIMULUS but the implementation of the new administrations budget priorities.

So here is a $90B example. More than 10% of the money was spent on something that may someday create a substantial amount of jobs, or not. But it certainly wasn't stimulus.

To now go back and say that it was not a failure because four to six years later there may be a payback is ridiculously rewriting history.

I was hoping we would talk about some of the scientific ideas discussed in the article, (especially the 'electrofuels', but chemistry and biology were a really long time ago, so the ARPA site didn't really help that much) so feel free to branch out.

We may get a hybrid in the next 6 months, so I've been reading about them a bit. If Obama didn't have anything to do with the Volt, why are Republicans holding it up as an example of the problems of Democratic energy issues?

Romney is hardly alone in this criticism. Conservatives ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich have used The Volt as the poster child for what they see as Democratic efforts to foster the use of cleaner energy in America while reducing our dependence on oil.

link

And another article
link

I get that you're angry, but if he doesn't have anything to do with it, why is he being hit over the head with it?

I would also point out the article discusses Obama's stimulus (a stimulus I believe you have said was too small, and you claim has already been wasted), and the author goes out of his way to acknowledge what was set up on Bush's watch. Obama wanted a bigger stimulus, yet Republicans didn't work with him. Yet you really have a problem with Obama on this? Your call, but it seems a bit of misdirected anger.

The problem is, if you want to go after Obama for Solyndra, the fact that it started under Bush is a pretty inconvenient fact. And given that the goal of the Republicans for all of Obama's term has been to deny him any possibility of getting something done, I'm not sure that getting all upset with him for doing what he could do makes any sense.

"There were unprecedented investments in wind, solar, and other renewables;"

Yes, if it's renewable, and has no great prospects to supply enough energy to affordably replace fossil fuels, it gets backing. Alternatives to fossil fuels which ARE presently capable of supplying enough energy to sustain an industrial civilization, (Nuclear, IOW) don't seem to qualify as "renewable", even if the fuel supply is guaranteed to last for the next billion years or so.

Make no mistake, I expect solar to, eventually, become practical outside niche markets. Once we've got high efficiency cheap cells that don't rely on toxic rare elements. Once we've got the storage problem licked.

In a generation or two. If we want to solve energy problems TODAY, we've got two choices: Fossil fuels, and nuclear.

The reasons the Republicans are complaining about the Volt in terms of Obama is that he CLAIMS credit, and he CLAIMS that it is a great success. Neither is true.

So I go back to my original point.

However, if your point was to discuss the details of ARPA-E and whether the individual research is good or has potential, I will refrain from discussing the politics of it.

However, IMO, the point of the book is the politics.

The reasons the Republicans are complaining about the Volt in terms of Obama is that he CLAIMS credit, and he CLAIMS that it is a great success.

Republicans are complaining about Obama because that's all they do. that's the whole party: tax cuts and "let's be against what our imaginary Obama's said today".

but, back to reality... can you give us a cite for Obama's CLAIMING of credit for the Volt?

The reasons the Republicans are complaining about the Volt in terms of Obama is that he CLAIMS credit, and he CLAIMS that it is a great success. Neither is true.

You mean he's neither claimed credit nor claimed that it was a great success? Typical of Republican complaints these days. ;)

Seriously, though, I'd like to see some quotes of Obama's objectionable claims. I have a funny suspicion they might not be exactly as they are being characterized to be (a la "you didn't build that").

Conservatives ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich have used The Volt as the poster child for what they see as Democratic efforts to foster the use of cleaner energy in America while reducing our dependence on oil.

When I read this, what I see is a Republican party driving off the cliff into total irrelevance.

WTF is the problem with fostering the use of cleaner energy and reducing our dependence on oil?

If anyone has a clue, kindly explain.

russell:

Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign.

The problem with reducing dependence on oil is that it makes the petroleum industry less powerful. They *hate* that.

And to bring in the Keystone Pipeline discussion from the previous thread:

I consider Keystone to itself be a serious threat to US national security, because of the risk it poses to the Ogallala aquifer. High oil prices are something that can (and eventually must) be lived with, poisoning the well is *not*.

CCDG,

So here is a $90B example. More than 10% of the money was spent on something that may someday create a substantial amount of jobs, or not. But it certainly wasn't stimulus.

Where did the $90 billion go? And why does it not count as stimulus just because it was spent on the Administartions's priorities?

"Conservatives ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich have used The Volt as the poster child for what they see as Democratic efforts to foster the use of cleaner energy in America while reducing our dependence on oil."

They actually see this:

High oil prices are something that can (and eventually must) be lived with,

as incorrect.

I find it interesting that the most knowledgable scientist in that discussion is less concerned about the new route. Seems like the objections are antiscience.

russell: WTF is the problem with fostering the use of cleaner energy and reducing our dependence on oil?

Because it threatens "the American way of life," which is non-negotiable, even to its end.

by,

It seems (from the link) most of it went to basic research grants that is not particularly stimulative in the short term.

High oil prices are something that can (and eventually must) be lived with

High oil prices are something we already live with.

And no, I'm not talking about $4.00/gallon at the pump. We do not pay anything like the full cost of an oil-based economy at the pump. We pay it in about 1,000 other ways, and when I say "we" I mean everybody.

The inability to recognize this is only one of the many reasons I say the (R) party are dead-enders. There is no future there.

I don't mean electorally, they no doubt have many years of reactionary life left in them as an organization. I mean in terms of reality - in terms of having something to bring to the table that has any shot, whatsoever, of providing a plausible future for the nation.

It's the party of nostalgia, and a lot of what they are nostalgic for never existed in the first place.

They actually see this:

High oil prices are something that can (and eventually must) be lived with,

as incorrect.

Err...why is it incorrect? I mean, there's a finite amount of oil on Earth. And the amount of oil for which it is (economically or energetically) feasible to extract and refine is far more limited. Plus, developing nations are consuming oil at much faster rates. So, if you have declining (or even stable) supply and increasing demand, the price has to increase. There's no way around it. That's what the law of supply and demand is all about it.

And our dependence on oil contributes to the demand for it, so reducing that dependence, ceteris paribus, reduces demand. Reducing demand, ceteris paribus, lowers the price.

I don't see how CCDG's 2:34 PM comment holds together logically. If you don't want to or don't think you can live with high oil prices, finding other energy sources would be a good thing - lowering oil prices and/or making them irrelevant.

Seems like the objections are antiscience.

This denigrates and/or "refutes" (I use the term in the loose GOP sense if that helps you) arguments against "the route" (Keystone I presume?) exactly how?

And why does it not count as stimulus just because it was spent on the Administartions's priorities?

The question is self-refuting. Because the funds were appropriated as part of the Stimulus Bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), doh!

But really, would you expect a stimulus package to reflect, say, GOP spending priorities? You can't be serious.

....that is not particularly stimulative in the short term.

That is simply false on its face.

That is simply false on its face.

You mean R&D money doesn't go straight into excess reserves?

Obama sounds suspiciously like America.

America is Kenyan and socialist? Somehow I just knew it!

I like: tax and regulate the living hell out of non-renewable energy production in the United States so that we use up all of their* energy first.

*if we're insisting on being jingoistic about it.

CCDG,

It seems (from the link) most of it went to basic research grants that is not particularly stimulative in the short term.

I know of no reason why research grants are not particularly stimulative. The money presumably goes to pay salaries - researchers, lab technicians, etc. - and to buy equipment, rent space, and so on.

That's all stimulative.

If we want to solve energy problems TODAY, we've got two choices: Fossil fuels, and nuclear.

Unsurprisingly, I disagree. The experience here in Japan, where all of the nuclear reactors went offline, demonstrates that there are lots of energy savings to be found. Those energy savings, plus alternative sources, can make up the difference.

The situation in Japan is pretty interesting. There was a threat of rolling blackouts, but those have not come to pass. And while the Keidanren has complained about it, saying that businesses need more power, a lot of that seems like the companies that have nuclear power interests are trying to get the gravy train restarted and the anti-nuclear demos here have been going every Friday since they restarted some plants in March. The government, to try and appease the public, has suggested that Japan will be nuclear free by 2030, which is a sufficiently long time horizon for things to settle down and allows Noda to 'temporarily' restart the reactors. There is also the argument that the trade deficit (the biggest in recent times) is due to having to buy LNG, but it seems that the world recession has an equal causative relationship.

Still, Americans have never had to really be frugal for anything but a war, so one could doubt the ability of the American people, but hey, we're number one, so you won't hear that kind of defeatist talk from me...

You know, it's a common suspicion on the right that the objection to nuclear power, as with fossil fuels, isn't so much to the possibility of harmful effects, as that they're actually capable of supplying as much power as people want. Rather than how much energy the activists want them to settle for.

I can see where somebody might get that idea...

So Brett....it's a common suspicion on the left that opposition to the idea of limiting consumption of and/or finding alternatives to carbon based energy vital to the SURVIVAL OF THE HUMAN F*CING RACE has not occurred to many on the right because they are in the thrall of the powerful oil, coal, and gas industries and their easily duped and scientifically illiterate wingnut lickspittle.

Perusing your posts, I can see where somebody might get that idea... Indeed.

Swill baby, swill.

So some people on the right believe there's a significant movement that is simply against energy, as in "Down with joules! Say "no" to ergs! Blame the electron volt!" Really? Like, energy, in and of itself, is bad? That's odd.

Brett, you know, if you want to have some sort of reasoned discussion, links and information are helpful. However, the 'I can see where someone might get the idea' is pretty much an abdication of taking responsibility. Why don't you try and setting out something to back up your claim that it is going to require a generation instead of hiding behind the 'I can see' line? Or put your 3 year old on the keyboard again, as he would probably demonstrate more maturity. At least he might understand why 'a generation' is not really a limiting factor.

Bobbyp, nuclear IS an alternative to carbon based energy. The only one currently proven to be capable of producing enough energy to power an industrial civilization. Capable of doing so for a length of time that makes the existence of the human race to date look like an eye blink.

Hydro? Lack of sites, and how much prime land do you want to drown?

Geothermal? Actually quite limited, and surprise: Rock cools when you extract heat from it.

Solar? Works only during the day, would be more expensive than nuclear if the cells themselves were FREE, given the need for storage.

There is only one, count it, one technology which can displace fossil fuels on a timely basis, and produce enough power to keep our civilization running. Nuclear. That's it.

All this talk about alternative energy, and then you, LJ, let the mask slip: You like the fact that Japan is running on sort rations energy-wise. It's not a downside to you.

Well, if you don't think energy shortages are a downside, you're in good company with this administration, that's clear enough.

'let the mask slip'

Hmmm, think that carbon based fuels are problematic and that we can actually get by with less. It's the same thing as putting a carbon based tax, or adding a $1 at the gas pumps. The 'let the mask slip' line implies I'm being dishonest. You really might want to rethink that.

Ah, nuclear power!

So reliable, so clean, so safe -- mostly. If only we would unshackle Small Businesses like Bechtel from burdensome regulation, we'd be wallowing in so much electricity that it would not be worth bothering to turn the hot water off between showers. As for namby-pamby librul worries about the dangers of nuclear reactors: what piffle! Everybody knows that The Free Market would quickly punish any corporation that gets a reputation for core meltdowns by driving down its stock price. (Or at least, the stock price of its insurance company, which could then get bailed out by the taxpayers, some of who pay as much as 20% of their income in federal taxes.) And of course, any talk about the long-term problems of waste storage is simply defeatist: our posterity will be smarter than we are, and they will find solutions we have not thought of yet. (And they will do it long before they ever figure out how to run the world on the various forms of the solar power that averages 500 watts per square yard on Earth, because that's a really hard problem.)

Energy is wealth, and what this world needs is bigger and more concentrated wealth ... er, energy. Diffuse power sources are hard to make big profits on. Given that money is a finite resource (unlike, say, coal or oil) no sane liberty-lover would stand in the way of big profits for Big Energy. If Little Energy ever caught on, profit margins would shrink, and humanity would run out of money -- which is power, which is what energy is made of.

So really, anything but nuclear power is a self-defeating proposition.

--TP

they're actually capable of supplying as much power as people want.

When I was a kid, and everybody was all fired up about nuclear power, the slogan was "electricity too cheap to meter!".

People wired up their houses to heat with electricity, because it was going to be so ridiculously, trivially cheap.

None of that happened. What's different now?

let the mask slip

This is paranoid horsesh*t. And I say this as someone who actually thinks a lot of what you have to say has merit, and that in fact you have raised several pertinent points in this thread.

But mind-reading some kind of malign statist ill intent into anything LJ (or anyone in this thread) has said is just not supportable.

There is no plot to deprive the population of useful power. There is an attempt to figure out what the most effective way to deal with energy requirements are.

The cheapest energy is the energy you don't use. We piss away enough energy in this country to light up half the third world. If we actually had half a freaking brain, the *first* thing we would do to try to achieve energy independence is to look for all the very numerous places where we are stupidly and unnecessarily inefficient.

It's been almost 60 freaking years since the first predictions of an eventual sunset on cheap oil, and we've done bugger-all about it. Other folks have, we haven't.

I call that stupid and lazy. No conspiracy required.

still waiting for the link where Obama CLAIMS credit for the Volt...

the *first* thing we would do to try to achieve energy independence is to look for all the very numerous places where we are stupidly and unnecessarily inefficient.

stupidity and inefficiency is the cost of fighting the evil liberal menace that plagues the minds of all good "conservatives".

"Given that money is a finite resource..."
I beg to differ.

If we actually had half a freaking brain, the *first* thing we would do to try to achieve energy independence is to look for all the very numerous places where we are stupidly and unnecessarily inefficient.

Instead, so-called conservatives decide to "fight" Earth Day and Earth Hour with "Human Achievement Day", encouraging people to turn on every damn light in the house for no good reason. Not sure what it's supposed to be "conserving," but hey, it sure shows those liberals, huh?

Modern conservatism = foot stamping, juvenile, oppositional anger and irrationality, that's about it.

See also all the raving about CF lightbulbs. Money-saving investment, or LIBERAL PLOT TO DESTROY AMERICA? Opinions differ!

My wife and I bought our house in March 2007. That year, for Earth Day, we replaced as many incandescent light bulbs as practical with CF bulbs - ceiling mounted lights, lamps, outside lights, everything we could think of. The only ones we didn't replace were the dining room lights that work on a dimmer, and a few fixtures where CF bulbs wouldn't fit.

You know when the last time I changed a light bulb in the past five years was?

Me neither.

Slacker.

I'm having a hell of a time jamming the following brontosaurus haunch into the holy-sh*t meat grinding attachment on my desktop satire processor.

One week, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan tell Values Voters Attendees that they will fight to protect their bedrock moral and family values from the predations of the Other, and the next week he attends a fundraiser at financier Marc J. Leder's house who, apparently since his wife of 22 years got her lipstick all over the nether regions of a 23-year tennis pro awhile back, is on a sexual vengeance party jag in which his $500,000/month rental Gatsby manse, among other Randian structures, hosts f*cking extravaganzas (extravaganzas of f*cking) in which the swimming pool is filled with KY bituminous lube pipelined in directly via manifest destiny from the Canadian tar sands (see, it's not really a threadjack) deposits and then Paul Ryan does a cannonball off the diving board, wearing a Dagny Taggert mask and naked from the waist down and dressed like Thomas Aquinas from the waist up, into the crowd of hired porn stars below who interrupt their "sexual acts" to receive his beneficence and all the while ponder how when this gig is up, they will return to their rightful places among the parasitical 47% where a $50 blowjob is just a way to avoid taking gummint largesse from job creators ... or something.

http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/parties_high_bar_hnNHG3a85TrmiVmoXP5ohP

When I get a glimpse inside the big Republican tent from my position outside with the other 47% holding a plate of Calvinist whore d'oeuvres, I don't know whether to m#sturbate or convert to Catholicism, though I'm beginning to get Madonna's and Prelate Charles Chaput's point that you can do both and start a Citizen's United PAC and just pick up the money from the bedside table.

I once suggested that "Atlas Shrugged" be made into a musical.

I'm now announcing Federico Fellini as the Director.


it's a common suspicion on the right that the objection to nuclear power, as with fossil fuels, isn't so much to the possibility of harmful effects, as that they're actually capable of supplying as much power as people want. Rather than how much energy the activists want them to settle for.

As usual, the right is confused. Objections to energy consumption are generally based, IMO, on the harmful effects of both the production and the consumption of the energy. This is especially so because the costs of those effects do not get factored in to the price of energy.

In fact, it's a common suspicion on the left that those on the right generally don't want those costs factored in, for all their BS about "free-market principles."

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Whatnot


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