Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - Bush urges more refineries, nuclear plants - Apr 27, 2005

Oddly enough, the BBC article is more flattering towards the president. But more so than ever, Bush is actually looking 'green'. Not as green as Al Gore perhaps but then again, considering that Al Gore comes from the eco-doom tradition of the 'Greens' in europe, that's not saying anything really.

So can US ever ween itself off foreign oil? Nary a chance without some fundamental changes to their consumption and production patterns. Being in Singapore, I think it's easy to not realise what size means. And for all the talk of the US as a trading power, we tend to forget that only 5% of their GDP is involved in trade. At the same time, the US for all its high technology industrial might, nevertheless, has its own manufacturing bases in the mid-west and south. Generally speaking, that's where the oil guzzling comes in, in contrast to say a wafer fabrication company.

At the same time, oil (patrol) is seriously, inconceivably cheap there. Even cheaper than in Malaysia. Add that to what is essentially an affluent country with a materialist consumerism culture and you create gaz guzzlers called SUVs and Humvees amongst other things.

So while increasing supply is an important aspect to deal with burgeoning demand, so is reining in that demand. Opening up the Alaskan Wildlife Reserve for drilling is not going to do much good is that total oil capacity amounts to two days of domestic oil consumption, even ignoring the irrepairable (and repairable) harm caused to the environment. So in a manner of speaking, high oil prices are good, that's a tremendous market force used to push consumers and producers into more effecient oil usage as did happen in the 80s. Hopefully and eventually we make a shift away from the use of such fossil fuels for environmental and various geo-political reasons *cough OPEC cough*.

But specific policies of Bush are looking very appealing currently. Following the success of the US Sulphur Dioxide emission trading market, the US is implementing one for carbon dioxide as well. The last I read in the Economist, they were pricing it at around $2.50 to $3 per ton which is in a range which has been bandied about in Climate Control circles. At the same time, putting in US$2.5 billion for the encouragement of fuel cells is a definitely promising development especially seeing the effeciency (and all round coolness) of some of the market models in Europe (check out Euromaxx on CNA).



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