Roscoe Bartlett talks to Bush

Yesterday, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) met with George Bush. He declines to say what he talked about on his website, but given the way that press release goes, I'm going to hope it was about oil and related issues.

There are a number of quotes in this press release about Peak Oil and the need to develop new energy sources. It's not entirely clear where they come from, but I think it was his speech at one of 6 Energy 2050 Policy Briefings.

I've noticed before that Bartlett has a very folksy way of speaking that he uses to deliver his sucker punches. Here's a (toned down) example. (You should read his full speech to Congress to get a real taste of his style.)
"The United States is the most efficient and productive country in the world. We do lead the world. We cut our use of energy per $1 of GDP by 50 percent since the early 70's. That's really good. However, with only 2 percent of reserves and 8 percent of production, we're depleting our reserves four times faster than the rest of the world."

"American needs a national energy policy and a program on a scale of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II to prevent or mitigate the consequences of global peak oil. To avoid a really bumpy ride, what we need to do is dramatically reduce our consumption. The cheapest oil is oil we don't use. Second, we need to invest in greater energy efficiency. Third, we have to invest our limited resources of time and current energy sources to make rapid advances in the development of alternative, renewable sources of energy."
I only hope that this style is effective.

(Originally seen at Energy Bulletin)

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You know, it occurred to me today while driving in 98 degree heat, that once gas becomes too expensive, my car will make a really nice solar over.

Pocket Rocket; your sure right about that, only I think you meant 'oven' , now think ot the Arizona desert in the middle of June or July. (big smile)
The old hermit

OOOps!! I got egg all over my face. it should read " now think of"
the old hermit

Like Bush doesn't know about peak oil already.


From the cited page:

"Focused on the primary energy sources that fuel U.S. transportation and power, each of the six Energy 2050 Policy Briefings will examine one of the most pressing issues on the country's policy agenda today. "

2050! I'm worried about next year. These guys don't know what a pressing issue is.

"These challenges are not just U.S. challenges - they are international and global challenges," commented Dan Arvizu, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

When a human being, I'm talking homo sapiens here, can't find his ass with either hand, I've noticed he starts talking about the challenges.

Check out

What are the fastest growing cities in USA ? in Arizona and Florida !!!
Kunstler is right. We lemmings are sleepwalking right off the cliff.

Bush may be evil but certainly isn't ignorant...

I think it's a fairly absurd notion that the Bush administration isn't aware of PO and doesn't have a strategy for it. Accepting this fact, the question remains why haven't they publicized how serious the situation may be and started pushing heavily for conservation and alternatives? I believe that the simple answer is China. The Bush administration knows that in the long run the US cannot compete with a communist nation with over 1 billion well educated people. Right now China’s economy is racing, not only to manufacture exports but also rapidly expanding their base infrastructure - transportation, electrical production, and general construction (the cement consumption numbers alone are quite staggering). The US has very few economic tools to try to slow the Chinese down except one that has worked well in the past – overproduction. If you read Duncan’s book “The Dollar Crisis” you see that what derailed Japan in 92, and Southern Asia in 97 was that their economies got a bit too hot and when there was the slightest dip in demand, production raced ahead and the price of everything bottomed out. Ironically even though those countries had invested the majority of their export profits in US bonds, the US was largely unaffected by their collapse. Obviously if PO hits, the US will be affected but not nearly as badly as China. In the US (and the majority of other developed nations of the world that are perhaps going along with the consumption “plan”) much infrastructure is already in place and aside from transportation we are fairly efficient. This is reflected in GDP/energy consumption numbers where the US is double that of China. In short the only way to cause China to stumble is to bump up energy costs until they can no longer buy oil and sell good based on the cheap pegged Yaun. Perhaps an analogy is in order.

Imagine you (the US and the rest of the developed world) are stuck on an island with another castaway (China, India, and Asia). Neither you nor your island mate know much about hunting or scavenging for food but you have both discovered that there are a collection of coconut trees that provide an easy alternative to the difficult task of developing long term nourishment sources. At first there seems to be plenty of coconuts on the ground and you get along reasonable well. You happen to be quite a bit fatter than your skinny neighbor and figure that if the coconut diet suddenly disappeared you’d at least have a cushion of time to look for alternatives. After some time you both (quietly) notice that the remaining coconuts are greener and higher in the trees and that at some point will run out. You have a few choices:

1) Look for other options by learning how to hunt or by spending time collecting berries. Both of these options require a great deal of energy and it seems unfair that you should do all the work experimenting on hunting techniques and exploring the island while the skinny guy gets fatter eating all the remaining coconuts. Additionally, he’ll probably just copy you’re hunting techniques and scrounging locations when there are no more tasty coconuts to eat.

2) You could kill him. This wouldn’t be too difficult from a physical standpoint seeing how you are significantly larger than him. This would have the advantage of making the remaining coconuts last longer AND you could ration them while trying to look for alternatives. However, you have a conscience (democracy) and realize that you probably couldn’t sleep at night if you took such harsh actions.

3) You could out eat him. It’s binge time because if the coconuts are going to run out you might as well make sure you put on a few pounds (strategic petroleum reserve) or find a few more secret trees that your friend won’t have access to (ANWR) before the happy days run out. Plus there’s a good chance that the other guy won’t be able to last very long once his daily nourishment runs out. With this approach you may be killing him indirectly, but hey, these are trying times and you can probably live with that outcome.

Yep, it’s defiantly going to be number 3Â… And that’s how I see it going down.**

You can make all the Bush monkey jokes you want but I think “Machiavellian” is a more accurate adjective than stupid and I think he’s going for option 3. Below are some additional advantages to the current blissful ignorance of the problem:

1) The administration can claim ignorance after the fact and all the bad things that happen in the third world will be seen as unfortunate rather than malicious
2) He’ll be seen as heroic for getting the US beyond fossil fuels in a comparably less painful fashion
3) With the collapse of China’s economy will come a collapse in their consumption which will buy time to move towards sustainable solutions.

**Notice I didn’t say that I prefer this path. I currently work on photovoltaics research and would love to see the US lead the way with number 1 but the realist in me doesn’t see it happening.

I'm inclined to give Dan the benefit of the doubt. He is in a really tough spot. He is new on the job, having recently taken over from Richard Truly. The DOE under Bodman is openly hostile to the mission of renewable energy. Bodman recently visited the lab and addressed the staff. The assembled researchers expected the normals sort of pep talk they get from politicians. Instead they were told that the administration essentially felt that the money spent on researching renewable energy technologies over the years had been wasted. The public supports work in this area and believes that it is being adequetly funded. Yet the budget that is working its way through congress will result in lay-offs at the lab. So, the guy is trying to advance the mission of the lab without incurring the wrath of the administrators at the DOE. It is sort of like living with an abusive drunken parent.

Oh course Bush knows about PO. Simmons has said that he's talked to Bush about what he (Simmons) was saying about energy issues, and Bush told him to keep it up.

Bush knows about PO, but just wants to survive his term in office. As Louis XV said "After me, the flood" and Louis XVI got his head chopped off.

Bartlett's plan is no different in essence than Carter's and is 180 degrees opposite from the Imperial interest and its perceived perogotive, which is the interest that's been driving US Imperial (foreign and domestic) policy since the 1890s. And just because the Imperial bureaucrats know about a potential problem doesn't mean they'll do the right thing to solve it. History shows us that bureaucrats and their leaders almost always muck things up and make the problem worse. The paradigm they operate within may even acknowledge an external impediment like PO, but the paradigm offers no tools to fix the problem and downplays its severity.

Most have also noted the fudged figures released by the USGS and EIA and the further instances of politicizing scientific results that have become endemic over the last 6 years, and even earlier when looking at the deliberate distorting of economic data. The bureaucrats are making plans and projections based on this sort of faulty data that they ought to know is faulty since they made it that way. So despite Bartlett's valiant effforts, little will get done because the "experts" will point ot their aformentioned fudged data and proclaim that their figures show there's nothing to worry about for some time yet, so there's no reason to prepare yet.

I think physicsperspective nailed it.

The one thing that doesn't fit is the Bush administration's policy toward continentally-marketed fuels, specifically natural gas.  When Exxon says production has peaked, you can bet we're in for a rough ride.  The appropriate thing to have done ten years ago is to implement strong energy-efficiency standards in construction, solar DHW heaters, and other things to make certain that all the long-term investments from our building boom were future-proofed.

We didn't, and now it's a-gonna hurt.  A serious surge in natural gas prices, combined with leaky houses and people already extended to the limits on their interest-only mortgages... that means trouble.

But Bartlett has the wrong verbal image.  This is not something that's going to be taken care of by a few thousand geeks in laboratories, though the geeks have an essential role; everyone has to do their part, because it's personal.  We don't need an energy Manhattan Project; what we need is a nation-full of energy Victory Gardens.  Let awnings and caulk and film and SIP overlays be our growth industry for the next five years, and may there soon be an art exhibit of a dozen Lincoln Navigators buried in curious patterns in the earth, and all the attendees arrive in their PriusPlusses and Escape GO-HEV conversions.

Engineer-Poet - it's a relief to hear someone talk sensibly about the way react to the decline of fossil fuels. When asked by the right authority (the president for example) a group can make HUGE strides in the right direction. This happened in the late seventies when Carter asked the US to become less dependent on oil (and that was self enforced NOT geographically enforced), in CA when energy prices spiked and people conserved, and during the blackout in the northeast when people restrained from turning everything back on as soon as the power came back. As a single example, look at the gains in efficiency by having 4 people carpooling in a sedan rather than each driving a SUV and getting stuck in traffic.

You second point that retrofitting the nation’s inefficiencies would be our growth industry is an excellent one. If a depression hits, a “new-new-deal” type program just might be what pulls the US onto the sustainability track. I agree that it’s gonna hurt. But unlike all the doomsayers I think it just means that it's going to take a great effort and time before success is realized.

(I’m not optimistic by nature – this is just the most likely scenario I see playing out)

I believe this administration already knows about PO and that PO was the subject that the secret Cheney energy conference in 2001. Besides, Cheney, in 1999, admitted more or less, that PO is a reality. But we just cannot tell the american people quite just yet.. The future is no something most people want to deal with.. they have shopping to do yet...

And this is the best website I have found for PO.. Keep up the good work!

physicsperspective:  The failure of the President to say anything remotely like that is one of my biggest complaints; I have dark suspicions about the cause.

Re: SW's comment about Dan Arvizu

OK, I stand corrected; he's trying to keep his job, promote alternatives in the face of ignorance from on high and has no real power.