General Jones and the Chamber of Commerce Energy Plan

Well they say that “the Times they are a changin’ ” and with the impending change in the Administration and its approach to energy , and the change in the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House, I suspect that change is what we are going to get. One indicator of a possible path forward comes from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, where General James Jones, anticipated to be the next National Security Advisor, has been heading a panel that has just issued A Transition Plan for Securing America’s Energy Future. So I thought we might take a quick look at what it says. To quote the preamble

Global demand (for energy) will increase by more than 50% between now and 2030 – and perhaps by as much as 30% here in the United States. We must develop new, affordable, diverse, and clean sources of energy that will underpin our nation’s economy and keep us strong both at home and abroad. Our energy future must address growing shortfalls in infrastructure capacity and emerging environmental issues. . . . .And looking ahead, even the most optimistic among us must conclude that we are not well positioned to anticipate nor prepared to meet tomorrow’s energy needs.

Based upon an initial list of 13 pillars that had been submitted as an open letter earlier this year, the Chamber has presented a detailed plan to move forward. The thirteen pillars are:
1. Aggressively Promote Energy Efficiency
2. Reduce the Environmental Impact of Energy Consumption and Production
3. Invest in Climate Science to Guide Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy
4. Significantly Increase Research, Development Demonstration and Deployment of Advanced Clean Energy Technologies
5. Significantly Expand Domestic Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
6. Commit to and Expand Nuclear Energy Use
7. Commit to the Use of Clean Coal
8. Increase Renewable Sources of Energy
9. Transform our Transportation Sector
10. Modernize and Protect U.S. Energy Infrastructure
11. Address Critical Shortages of Qualified Energy Professionals
12. Reduce Overly Burdensome Regulations and Opportunities for Frivolous Legislation
13. Demonstrate Global Leadership on Energy Security and Climate Change.

To ensure that the program is given the importance it deserves, the plan recommends the creation of a new office within the Executive Office of the President, to coordinate energy policy. Further that the holder of this post should sit on the National Economic and National Security Councils.

The plan then goes ahead to list 88 recommendations as a roadmap to meeting the above imperatives. In the interests of space, and time, I am not going into all of these – they are broken down into initiatives from the President and Administration, those that involve the Administration and Congress, those that relate mainly to Congress, and the Individual States. They are divided by the thirteen themes listed above, so let me briefly glance at each sector and give you my abbreviated thoughts on the recommendations for that theme.

In the area of Energy Efficiency, part of the recommendations relate to tax incentives for items such as more energy efficient buildings and the installation of more efficient appliances, windows, furnaces etc, but carry those on into the electric grid and smart grid devices. Since the document is from the Chamber it is more oriented toward business, but Alan wrote to me earlier this week about the Energy Savings that can come from retrofitting homes, citing the Austin Energy initiative, and the significant energy savings it has accomplished by the sort of Aggressive approach that the Chamber seems to be advocating. This pro-active sort of program is claimed to have saved the energy of a 500 MW power plant already, and at that level would also seem to deserve inclusion in the agenda, but does not appear.

Moving on to Environmental Impacts (separated from Climate Science) it seeks Congressional activity to give tax credits for retrofitting existing coal-fired power plants to reduce criteria pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions. It also seeks clarification that greenhouse gas emissions should not be regulated under the Clean Air Act or the Endangered Species Act.

There is an interesting paragraph in the section on Climate Science, which largely calls for a greater investment in Climate Science, and the integration of data. It reads:

To maintain the public’s trust and support and to ensure transparency, researchers who receive federal support should be required to disclose their data, models, and other relevant material, subject to protections for confidential business information, so that results can be assessed and reproduced.

Perhaps, having read of some of the issues that Steve McIntyre has had with the hockey stick plot of global temperature rise, I will quietly tiptoe away from this one. It is difficult to dispute, however, the need for the integrated surface, ocean and space-based observation network that the plan calls for.

In the field of Clean Energy Technologies the plan calls for venture capital firms and businesses to work within the national laboratories to commercialize technologies being developed there. It calls for a new ARPA-E program or its equivalent to fund high-risk, exploratory research on innovative concepts and enabling technologies, and also notes the need for an Electrical Energy Storage Initiative to develop cost-effective technologies that can store 50 to 100 MW of power, for use with intermittent technologies (I presume that means wind and solar). It calls for doubling federal spending on Energy Technology R&D, a long-term tax credit for companies in that area, and a Clean Energy Bank that will be able to accelerate the market penetration of advanced clean energy technologies.

Under the section dealing with the expansion of Domestic Oil and Gas Production it seeks to open the Outer Continental Shelf, encourage the Alaska natural gas pipeline and the expansion of the leasing program for access to fuel sources on non-park federal lands. It recommends repeal of the rule that prevents the federal government from using non-traditional transportation fuel sources.

Seems that Leanan had noted that the Bush Administration was doing something about the access to federal lands earlier last week, we’ll just have to see how that one plays out. As to the fuel source issue, seems to me there was a Congressman . . .

And speaking of Congressmen, it should be noted that if Leanan’s catch on the new head of the Energy and Commerce Committee not liking hydrofracing holds up then it is possible that the techniques that are currently producing gas from the shales of the East and Mid-West might be in trouble. He seems a sort of determined type of guy, so again, we’ll just have to see how that plays out.

Under the section dealing with the Expansion of Nuclear Energy, the plan calls for a resolution of the storage issue for spent fuel, and growth in the strategic stockpile of uranium.

Under Clean Coal technology it suggests partnering with other governments in advancing CCS technology, it recommends $500 million toward the IGCC program and related carbon capture technology research, and $500 million for an IGCC demonstration plant, with creation of an industry-funded research program to support further R&D in this area. It suggests that tax credits be used to encourage the first five or six advanced coal-fired plants.

When discussing Renewable Sources of Energy, the plan does not single out different potential programs, but rather (within the framework of doubling overall federal R&D spending) recommends more research and more tax credits to encourage investment. Maybe they think that all the current commercials for the technology, and the support of T. Boone will be all that it takes.

The recommendations for the Transportation Sector include encouragement for the military to find alternate sources of fuels for military use. Interestingly it is here that the possible conflict between biofuels and food is addressed, with the suggestion of a multi-agency review, though the problem gets tossed to the National Academies for recommendations. Sadly there is no encouragement of urban transportation systems, such as those that Alan, inter alia, advocates.

Infrastructure recommendations include the implementation of a smart grid, the inclusion of refined products in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which should be grown to 1 billion barrels, and the problems that water availability is going to bring to the production and availability of energy.

Hmm, and the section on the Critical Shortage of Energy Professionals – apart from the nice sounding “providing adequate financial and institutional support for researchers”, I don’t see a lot of recognition of a real program that will help get us where we need to be, though it contains the appropriate phraseology. Motivation, motivation, motivation . . . (so--when are we all retiring ??)

Under the heading of Reducing Frivolous Litigation, it suggests streamlining the permitting of refineries, a federal siting authority and a review of the Clean Air Act to allow routine maintenance. (This one goes right by me – I have no clue!!)

And that brings us to the final recommendations on Leadership in Energy Security and Climate Change. This includes the safety of international shipping routes, and the raising of energy as a critical part of the U.S. trade agenda. In light of our other ongoing discussions on the IEA it does recommend a strengthening of support for that Agency, and for the expansion of its membership to include India and China. It also calls for the creation of an International Clean Energy Fund, and as something close to Matt Simmon’s heart

Nations should improve transparency, reliability, and availability of oil and gas market data as well as their analysis of long- and short-term supply and demand trends to help make the world energy market less volatile.

Well, this has been a bit longer than usual, and yet has only skimmed the highlights of the recommendations, so I would encourage you to visit the site, and then add comments to perhaps explain some of the issues that I have glossed over. We will see if it has any future.

Guess the real message here is that the "best ideas" are small ideas; as in relatively easy to do things.

Real "change" would have addressed something like revitalization of highly dense cities and moving Federal support away from single family homes with large lawns to smaller, denser units, or the move away from airport centered/Interstate centered long distance travel towards rail based, or some move away from trucks toward viable alternatives.

That would have been a shock. The list is nice, interesting, would be cool to see implemented, but not exactly sure of if they will have huge effects.

BTW - speaking of smart grids the National Science Foundation had a good podcast on the subject called "Bridges to the Future, Part I: The Smart Grid"

You’re invited!

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Complimentary Teleconference

Lawrence Solomon author of The Deniers
The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming, Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fear* And Those Who Are Too Fearful To Do So

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Register Today!

I wonder how long it’ll be until the national CoC comes asking for a bailout? Because there’s no way anyone could have seen this climate thing coming.

I heard Solomon on a talk-show recently and he certainly needs to be bailed out of his asshattery.

"Real Change" would be to address sustainable human world population and set a US population target that takes into consideration the fuel consumption and carbon footprint of the average US citizen. I suspect this would result in a target of less than 200 million - family planning and immigration programs would need to be near the top of the list.

Real change would be a national motor vehicle speed limit of 45 mph and the removal of all crash protection requirements except seat belts (and maybe air bags). This would give some real motivation for "viable alternatives".

Either peak oil and global warming are real and urgent threats or they are not. If they are not particulary urgent, then the list is fine. If these threats are urgent, and we don't take drastic steps, then our great grandchildren (I have one) will come to hate our greed and stupidity.

Demand growth in the US is typically projected @ ~1% growth per year in the 'business as usual' scenarios. So all that needs to be done is to get 2% per year energy efficiency & conservation gain over BAU, and it's a net 1% decline/year. So 20% less than today's use by 2030. Maybe a bit less, since the take back principle negates some of it. But less than today's energy use. It won't happen without aggressive policy though. And of course American popular culture isn't helping (a generalization, but one that is too often true).

Oh, something tells me that we'll manage a much better energy decline than 2% per year...

Ugh. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an official-sounding organization that many people think is part of the federal government but nothing of the sort. It is wholly funded by corporate interests.
"A powerful business lobbying group"

Anybody remember seeing the ubiquitous Dr. Richard L. Lesher of the US CoC on every other talking head show years ago?

Well actually I thought it had something to do with the local Chambers of Commerce that are a functioning part of local communities. Yes they bring businesses together and have "corporate" interests, but if we are going to do anything about future energy supply, won't this require that some of those corporations be involved in the process?

Our local CoC is, by its nature, made up of the local (and generally small) business owners in our community. These are, in the end, some of the folk that you are going to have to convince to change, if that change is going to be effective. To suggest that there aren't strong business interests pushing from both sides in the debate over change is to gloss over the impacts that the ethanol companies have had in national policies in the past, and the role that solar and wind interests will likely have in the near future. After all there are a fair number of people who are pushing the global warming argument that are actually employed in aspects of that industry (as it has now become). Just because one is employed in, or has received money from, an organization does not disqualify one from having a valid opinion that should be heard.

I think the local CoC's are a way better bet than the "national" U.S. CoC. There is no trademark on "Chamber of Commerce" so anyone can form one. The way it works is that businesses sign up for membership in the U.S. CoC so they can contribute to a lobbying union that is fighting against such issues as worker's union formation (i.e. the badly named "card check" inititative). The local variants may or may not be associated with the U.S. CoC but in most cases they have a transitive association since some local business probably contributes to the U.S. CoC.

How about the Green Chamber of Commerce instead?

The Green Chamber of Commerce will:

* Strengthen the voice and political influence of businesses united to create green public policy and a sustainable economy.
* Actively work to conserve natural resources, eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and reverse global warming.
* Extend the ideas, best practices and influence of green businesses large and small.
* Increase awareness of the unprecedented opportunities in the emerging green economy.
* Promote the interests of businesses that are committed to measuring their success in terms of benefit to people, planet and profit.
* Work with existing organizations in their efforts to create green, sustainable business models.
* Help businesses and the general public learn what they can do to support a healthy environment.
* Provide networking opportunities for green businesses.
* Provide promotional opportunities for members
* Encourage awareness of the relationship between social responsibility and green business practices.

Well it is partly because the guy who wrote the CoC version is going to be National Security Advisor, and partly because if there is going to be change, getting the entire industry involved, rather than just those who are primarily motivated to the green agenda could be more productive.

Indeed James Jones is a figurehead in the U.S. CoC organization as president of the Institute for 21st Century Energy. His bio there says he serves as chairman of three boards of directors. He is also on the board of directors of Boeing and Chevron.

So he continues on with the tradition of the military-industrial complex. Or else he is simply a figurehead.

I don't understand the downratings. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recently (maybe always) been a very close fellow traveler with the government. Many people confuse the Department of Commerce with the Chamber of Commerce -- and just possibly, that confusion is promoted at some level.

The Green Chamber of Commerce is a great idea, but it can't hope to supplant the powerful corporate lobby of the USCoC. Infiltration would be good.

From the document:

To use coal cleanly and to address CO2 emissions, we need to greatly increase our research, development, and demonstration of clean coal and carbon capture and sequestration technologies. We also must establish a fair and predictable regulatory environment.

This comes across as another pitch for subsidies and de- regulation. Not surprising, considering the source.

The great thrust of the USCC has heen to close the courts to persons injured by business products or professional malpractice.

I think it's too early to consider this pitch as being any kind of Obama administration 'plan'. If I'm wrong and it is ... then circumstances will render it irrelevant.

What does it mean to significantly expand oil and gas exploration and production? If the oil and gas companies choose to do that, fine, but let us not provide government subsidies of any kind to do that. We should be aiming for a post oil/fossil fuel future, not a perpetuation of existing dependence. Since capital is limited, let us focus on low and carbon free alterntives.

Lots of the usual talk about so called clean coal. Research into CCS is fine but it is not going to happen on a sufficient scale in any kind of reasonable time frame. Research into clean coal should not be an excuse to continue to rely on coal in the mean time. No more new coal plants and phase out existing plants in conformance with James Hansen's recommendations.

No mention of carbon and/or gas or oil taxes, of course. This is, after all, the Chamber of Commerce. In the mean time, the free market for oil, is destroying their objective in increasing oil and gas exploration and production, not to mention alternatives to same.

Even with tax incentives for energy efficiency, I believe that inertia will prevent most people from actually taking advantage of these incentives, especially since we have gone back to cheap energy. A serious national program would entail a WPA like effort to actually attack this problem on a home by home basis.

Implied in these recommentations is the idea that we just subsidize everything, hoping that something sticks. If the only goal is just to provide more supply of everything, without considering the impacts of each alternative, then maybe that is fine. This is fine if one ignores capital constraints and the environmental impacts of each alternative.

By the way, partnering with private industry on CCS has produced virtually nothing. Industry will get serious when carbon taxes are so high that they fail to develop the technology at their own peril. In the mean time, continued government supported research in this area just perpetuates the literal smoke screen that has been the coal industry and its allies for decades.

5. Significantly Expand Domestic Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

I agree with tstreet. This is an odd goal to be included in the letter. I can only assume it is for political reasons as it is the one question that the general public feels they can say yes or no to without having to think. If it had been left out, I'm sure there would have been lots of foolish debate as to why.

Obviously, goal number 5 is irrelevant from the perspective of where to spend our limited resources. The price of oil and gas will determine the amount of exploration just fine.

5. Significantly Expand Domestic Oil and Gas Exploration and Production.

I think the goal is relevant if exploration technology will change.
Conventional exploration technology is based on sisemic data only. Today, as it was decades before, oil companies drill mostly dry exploration wells. Drilling success rate doesn’t overcome 25% on average. It means that three dry wells go to waste from each four drilled. It means also that discovery occurs too slowly today, but there is a highly productive exploration technology (Seismo-electromagnetic - SEM) for detection of hydrocarbon deposits. It provides a success rate close to 75%. In other words, three productive wells for each dry holes. Obviously with the technology like this US oil industry could make threefold more oil discoveries then using conventional technology, and this technology won't need more investment,time-frame and so on compare to a conventional one. It would significantly mitigate US energy problems.

---------Seismics---Prospects---Drilling---Discoveries: one in four
Funding --------project time-----------------------------------------
---------SEM--------Prospects---Drilling---Discoveries: three in four

Comparison of conventional and new technologies for US OCS shows that SEM technology requires the same number of drill ships as well as investments; almost in two times less time to detect all prospects on OCS. Threefold more oil/gas discoveries will be detected. Beside of that more than 150 dry holes never will be drilled that improves environmental situation and so on.


I am a PhD geophysicist that teaches at a famous university. I am well versed with all geophysical technology. I am also quite well-known in the oil and gas geophysical community. I can confidently state that SEM technolgy is unsupported in the technical community. If you would like to show us peer-reviewed work that supports your claims, I would love to see it.

I am a PhD geophysicist that teaches at a famous university.

I am NOT a geophysicist (although I have an All-But-Doctorate) in the subject. I can recall helping a Shell geologist with software for analysis of electromagnetic exploration data twenty or so years ago. I doubt this stuff is all that new. My guess, it that it provides a bit of additional information about what might be underground, but probably not ebough to be a revolutionary design.

enemy of state,

We are not talking about classical electromagnetic exploration, which really “provides a bit of additional information”. Response in this case is insignificant.
We are talking about different kind of signal, coming from oil or gas deposit as a result of combined seismo- and electromagnetic waves acting simultaneously.
If you have specific questions, I am more then willing to answer them.

I appreciate your deep knowledge in contemporary geophysical technology and I know, that real scientist always has a place for doubt, so I completely understand your position.
As we know, common contemporary technologies don’t get electromagnetic response from hydrocarbon deposit using seismo- and electromagnetic waves simultaneously, so I think that a lot of people from technical community are not really familiar with SEM technology, which uses interaction between mechanical vibration and electromagnetic field.
In my site I just briefly described, how SEM technology works, and of course there are much more to it. This technology was patented in the USA and I have examples of field records , as the technology was successfully tested in the Barents and the Black Seas as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. Cumulative length of observation lines is about 2,000 miles.
If you have any specific questions about it, I will gladly answer them.
You mentioned, that some people are not happy about SEM technology, but, as Upton Sinclair said, “ It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it.”
If you explain me, what exactly I have to do in order to dispel your doubts, I will do it.

Thanks--i do not dismiss these ideas out of hand, but I think it is important that a technology is 'guilty' until PROVEN innocent. If you can rule out any other explanations rigorously, and you still have an 'anolmaly', then you may have something.

1) where is this published? Patents are not peer reviewed and I dont hold much stock in these (tho I have many). Has Art Thompson (former XOM) examined this?

2) The conversion between EM and seismic waves is not new. The work of Steve Pride, among others, has given a theoretical basis for the coupling between NS and wave equations. Why not acknowledge these scientists?

3) Have you run simulations? If so, why not show these? Real data can be misleading. My experiece with some geophysicists is that they sometimes have a tendency to reach a conclusion and then find data to support the conclusion--kind of the opposite of the scientific method.

4) If you really want to sell the technology, get it published in Geophysics. If you cant, then you most likely dont have anything to sell other than dreams.

Thanks for comments, jwr3; we look forward to more of your insights.

Thanks ,
1) I couldn’t publish or examined anything before my latest patents were published (2008). In addition I had my personal reasons for not doing it.

2) I don’t use convertion beween EM and seismic wave for producing EM response. In my technology interaction of combined seismic wave and EM field together (simalteneously) produces EM response, and only from oil-and-gas bearing formations (see, Figs. 1-4).
This idea creates a foundation for this technology and this concept helps to understand the rest of it. I will be grateful for the information, if you give me examples of similar ideas.

3) Sure, I have a lot of simulation data ( as an example see Fig.5), but I think it will be more interesting, if you send me geological situation with hydrocarbon layers and I will return you simulation data. About “tendency to find data to prove a conclusion”: effect on which the technology is based was encountered when I was working in the Black Sea. We received data from the deposits, which didn’t comply with classical EM theory. We found, that transient EM prosess was longer over high resistivity deposits, than it was outside the field, which contradicts the theory. That event gave me a chance to study this effect.
4) Thank you for the idea to go to Geophisics.
As for the rest of it - I do not know who will be interested in the technology… Big Oil Co.? OPEC ? No, they dream for oil price to go back to $100 and more. OPEC cut down oil production and does not want to increase discoveries worldwide. Bureaucracy in geophysics or geology? No, they do not want any changes in conventional exploration technology to increase discoveries and production. May be TOD and US government and people?

"It provides a success rate close to 75%."

how large a data base is that taken from ?

Commulative length of observation line is about 2,000 miles (Black and Barents Seas and Gulf of Mexico).

We don't need more plans.

We need new people with the guts and ability to implement them.

We act as if the correct plans are hashed out they will somehow become implementable. Wrong.

The people in position to make things happen have a different set of plans, THEIR plans.

The nearly 9 trillion pledged to address the economic crisis could pay off the majority of the 10 Trillion in outstanding mortgage debt in America. What effect would that have on loosening up the consumer economy?

Of course that would spell around 10 trillion in lost virtual blue sky wealth that never existed in the first place, for the banksters so we can't do that.

Not to talk about what that 9 trill of OUR money could be spent on for OUR future.

That should illustrate what is likely to be implemented.

I question whether or not we really want to "loosen up the consumer economy". Go to the mall, today, black Friday, and you can get a front row seat on the so called consumer economy. Better to call it the crapconomy. Maybe it is just as well that the crapeconomy has been put on hole for awhile. It would be beneficial if both consumers and the government focus on how personal and public expenditures can positively contribute to a more sustainable future.

Actually we drove past a Mall this morning, and it was very busy - so I think it may be a little early to tell. But with the loss in jobs, and confidence you are probably right about the current state of the economy. However, is is in nobody's interest for the economy to continue in that state.

How about we either tremendously scale back our mis-named 'Department of Energy' (DOE) or we forcibly re-direct at least 80% of its taxpayer-funded, non-accountable (classified) level of effort away from creation and maintenance of weapons of mass destruction and put this brainpower and money into developing alternative energy sources, smart grids, and energy efficiency (negawatts).

Our new national security team, from the President on down, needs to wake up and realize that national security, and specifically energy security, is not obtained at the points of our guns but by investing and rolling out the post-oil, post-fossil fuel energy infrastructure. Including eccentricity-powered trains, trolleys, buses, and cars.

Use less; use more efficiently; use home-made alternative/renewable energy sources.

We had better do this fast, as in crash program fast...while we are creating money and blowing it into the wind we might as well create some more and sink it into these kind of investments that will pay long-term dividends....while we still can.

Another reason to move out: we need to lead the World in this. I just saw a mind-numbing show on CNN or whatever yesterday detailing how McDonald's has teamed with some Chines gas station firm to have the rights to build a Mickey-Ds at each and every one of the existing gas stations... Right now McD's has 800 restaurants in China...implementing this plan would result in some 30,000 McD's in China. The next part of the show explained how the Chinese love golf, and how golf courses are proliferating. The next segment after that explained how Home Depot is rapidly expanding in China to serve their new housing market...they showed a housing sub-division that was indistinguishable from our typical US McMansion Suburban gated enclaves. The show explained that underpinning all of this is the huge growth in car ownership and miles driven. Since the Chinese are radically increasing per-person consumption, the least we could do is show them how to do this using the most efficient technologies. With their autocracy, they can make sweeping changing rapidly when they want to...not only in energy efficiency, but sooner or later they will reign in conspicuous consumption as well to bow to reality.

The Chinese are headed down a path to disaster. And it certainly isn't going to be the U.S. to show them how to do it more efficiently. They are just simply buying into a way of life that we have already demonstrated to be unsustainable. Car ownership and unlimited highways is a recipe for disaster regardless of how efficiently it is done.

tstreet, I don't know if you did it accidently or intentionally, but you just coined a very funny line there!
"The Chinese are headed down a path to disaster. And it certainly isn't going to be the U.S. to show them how to do it more efficiently."

I love it...hey, if your going to head down a path to disaster, we can show you how to get there more efficiently!

Gee, does that mean we can help them get them to disaster even faster? Hee, hee, great stuff...:-)


I recognized the intent of the previous poster, who was trying to say that they could adopt this new lifestyle in a more efficient manner. Anyway, disaster is disaster. Heading there in a more efficient manner is kind of absurd so I left my sentence as it was written. In any event, I don't think the U.S. should be used as a model to do much of anything more efficiently.

If the Chinese get their consumption up to our level, we are screwed regardless of how efficiently this is done. Accordingly, we need to move our level of consumption down with the hope that we can meet and stabilize at some level that is a happy medium. Probably impossible, I know, but the current path is going to end badly for everyone, especially all those extinct non human species.

"we need to move our level of consumption down with the hope that we can meet and stabilize at some level that is a happy medium"

this never gets said in the US, or even Western media because it confirms what the average consumer is beginning to suspect.

But thanks for saying it. Keep track of how often it's said. It's the key phrase to a seismic shift in consumer expectations.

As Kucinich said "We have to move status from consumption to service."

Study then new, commit to the old.

The real message is contained in this innocuous-sounding sentence:
"12. Reduce Overly Burdensome Regulations and Opportunities for Frivolous Legislation"

That means, in plain English, that all of the other nice-sounding ideas won't be fully implemented -- because no one or no agency will be able to file a lawsuit against any company that constructs an energy plant that actually violates the spirit of any one, or any combination of the other points. What? You say producing carbon dioxide in your "clean" coal plant without proper recovery and burial methods is "polluting" the atmosphere? We don't consider those crazy global warming folks' arguments as realistic, and besides, "pollution" is something we can see! Our plant is really "clean." The law says you can't challenge me, that would be frivolous. Etc., etc, etc.

Oh, excuuuuse me!

How is this energy plan any different than that of the Republican Party?

I do not see anything in the energy plan posted that is different from the status quo.

The energy person will also be a part of the National Security Council, is that right?

Read: more war for oil. We do not need to own it, just control it (a la Rockefeller) but then ownership can be profitable, too.

Obama looks like "No Change" all over again.

Friendly Fascism has a new face. Big deal.

There is a great new book out called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW by Jeff Wilson. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in alternative energy.

I will only comment on the FF side of this document:

1) no mention of unconventional gas--only gas hydrates
2) focus on offshore
3) CTL (idiotic)

This is basically a special interest (read national laboratories, major oil companies, and Robert Byrdophiles) dominated document. Incredibly ignorant as would be anticipated from a group of people that are not professionals in the energy industry and have no engineering or scientific training.

Obama help us!

8. Increase Renewable Sources of Energy

Even if renewables yield electric power, which we have little need for.

But hey, it sounds like a good idea. Even if it uses up fossil energy, it gives the illusion of doing something positive, and so let's just do it.

I threw this up on another blog. Note: I don't know, exactly, how much gasoline we're using at this moment, now, precisely, what the present CAFE standard is. Having said that, I think this is pretty close to reality.

You want to know how easy it will be to cut our gasoline consumption in half. At first glance you're going to think I've made a mistake.

Increase the efficiency of our engines from 20 mpg to 30 mpg (believe me, by spending an extra hundred dollars, or so, to make our engines VVT (varible valve timing,) DI(Direct Injection) and VRT (variable ratio turbocharged) this is as easy as falling off a log. Same horsepower, much smaller, more efficient engines.

Increase our gasoline from zero ethanol to E24 (24% ethanol - approx what the Brazilians are using, now. We're about 1/3 of the way there, already, btw.)

This takes us from approx. 9.5 million barrels/day to about 4.75 million barrels/day.

The Maths: 20 mpg yields .05 gallons/mile.

30 mpg yields .033 gallons/mi. Multiply .033 by .76

You get .025 gallons/mile.

For you btu-counters, this type of engine with the added octane of e24 should have no problem replicating the mileage of E0.

I'm not sure if "falling off a log" is the equivalent of real world data;)

It's a "technical" term.


Increase the efficiency of our engines from 20 mpg to 30 mpg (believe me, by spending an extra hundred dollars, or so, to make our engines VVT (varible valve timing,) DI(Direct Injection) and VRT (variable ratio turbocharged)

This is far more than an extra hundred dollars. Why not make the vehicle lighter as well?

Lighter? Absolutely.

Of course, using smaller, more efficient engines is a key first step. And, the thing is, all of these technologies are available, and off the shelf as we speak.

reply to cjwirth,

You and I and others have debated this issue before, so I won't revisit that argument, however, I was a bit disappointed that there was not more discussion of the transportation sector consumption of oil in the Chamber of Commerce recommendations. That is where most of the oil use occurs, and is also the toughest sector to make major changes in, so maybe they thought it was too tough of a nut to crack, but transportation is where the need for change and technical advance is greatest. But I am still sure we will need the electricity...:-)


Given the source CoC, it is better (by a not insignificant amount) than I would have expected. Of course the devil could be in the details. But this is just one of many documents being throw at the transition team, the fine print may not really matter much.

Under the heading of Reducing Frivolous Litigation, it suggests streamlining the permitting of refineries, a federal siting authority and a review of the Clean Air Act to allow routine maintenance. (This one goes right by me – I have no clue!!)

This refers to old polluting power plants, which have been grandfathered in to allow operation at their old level of pollutants. Current law says that a plant upgrade triggers the death of the grandfathering, i.e. if you upgrade, you gotta bring the whole plant into compliance with modern laws. This has the unfortunate effect of disincentivising minor improvements, including those which might improve efficiency or decrease emissions.

I also suspect there are bureacratic paperwork and permitting hassles, involved with implementing things such as combined heat-and-power (putting the power generation on the industrial site, so the waste heat can be used in an industrial process).

Then there is probably good old fashioned greed, "let us pollute without paying for the externalities". This is from the CoC after all.

Refineries, refineries, refineries. As if our problem was too little refining capacity! Although a couple more heavy oil refineries would probably serve us well, we have more light-sweet refining capability than supply already.

Given that the US Chamber of Commerce is "dominated by oil companies, pharmaceutical giants, automakers and other polluting industries", what should we expect from this list of recommendations? To avoid being assuaged by the soundbite nature of the recommendation headings, let's review some of the details;

1. Aggressively promote energy efficiency

Everyone likes energy efficiency, so they start off with this, ostensibly to build confidence in their remaining recommendations. However, they completely ignore CAFE standards for vehicle fuel economy and only touch on appliances and building codes. While the latter is important, it ignores areas for major improvement in vehicle fuel economy.

2. Reduce the Environmental Impact of Energy Consumption and Production

There first recommendation? Climate policies must not provide a revenue windfall to the government. How does this reduce environmental impact?? All they are saying is "NO CARBON TAX", which translates to more BAU. Next we have air pollution rules should be reevaluated and revised when it makes sense to do so. What kind of recommendation is that?? Sense to whom? Another, permit considerable flexibility in how goals are achieved. I thought there was considerable flexibility now. This says to me, "We want as much wiggle room as possible". Next, To ensure our competitiveness, any new national climate change policy should be conditional on an international agreement that requires full international participation. So if China or India don't want to jump right in, we dump any climate change policies? Please!! The US needs to be a leader in reducing GHG emissions, not an example of how not to do something. If China and India knew we had such a policy, they would just say "No", and the US could say, "Sorry, but we can't if they can't". Another, Congress should remove the cloud of regulatory uncertainty by clarifying that greenhouse gas emissions shall not be regulated under the Clean Air Act or the Endangered Species Act. In other words, remove all authority to do anything about GHG emissions. Nothing I've seen in this section has anything to do with reducing the environmental impact of energy consumption and production; indeed, this section fights for the rights of fossil fuel plants to burn more in a less regulated manner.

3. Invest in Climate Science

Their first bullet is A federal multiagency Climate Change Adaptation Program should be established to examine adaptation and geo-engineering issues. In other words, no climate change mitigation, but just adaptation, like geo-engineering massive seawalls around coastal cities, using the model of New Orleans. Absurd to say the least. Next, Progress in climate science is apparent, but significant knowledge gaps remain, such as the predictive capability of climate models. This is just a veiled stab at saying "we don't have enough to go on, let's study this another few decades". Obviously, nothing we understand in climate science today is helping to guide energy policy in this paper.

4. Increase R&D funding of clean advanced energy technologies

DOE should provide opportunities for businesses and venture capital firms to work within the national laboratories to identify and create business plans to commercialize new advanced energy technologies being developed by the laboratories. Interestingly enough, the Bush Administration severely cut these opportunities for renewable energy, while expanding them for nuclear and 'clean coal'. Seeing as how Renewable Energy is in 10th place on the overall list of recommendations, it sounds like little would change. DOE should establish and Congress should fund an Electric Energy Storage Initiative to coordinate and fund research into energy storage technologies with the goal of developing cost-effective technology capable of storing 50 to 100 MW of power. There are already hydrosuch units in operation for solar thermal electrical generation; while other technologies should certainly be explored, we should be focused on making more of the ones above, not just hand-waving. Congress should create a Clean Energy Bank of the United States (CEBUS), a quasi-governmental entity, The DoE already has such a charter; why should we create another entity, especially one that is unaccountable?

5. Significantly Expand Domestic Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

This whole section is a joke. Next...

6. Commit to and expand nuclear energy use

DOE should create a strategic reserve of low-enriched uranium from its existing inventory to guard against supply disruptions.

So they admit there is a problem with independence of uranium supply! Funny how this is somehow considered a step towards energy independence... I'm not opposed to the expansion of nuclear energy, though do not by any measure see it as "The Answer", or even the largest part of the answer.

7. Commit to the Use of Clean Coal

First, there needs to be something that can be called "Clean Coal" before it can be used. Since the Bush Administration dumped the FutureGen program, it shows the lack of commitment even a pro-coal administration has to this high-risk gamble. So wanting us to commit to something that doesn't exist is an odd recommendation.

The federal government and the private sector should capitalize on opportunities to partner with other governments and overseas businesses to advance CCS technology. This is a vague, obtuse recommendation that provides nothing in the way of an actionable recommendation. The President and Congress, working with the private sector, should establish a fund managed by fossil-based utilities . In other words, have a carbon tax, but give it to the utilities to do as they see fit. Given their past track record (recommending the termination of the New Source Review above, this will likely end up with more BAU.

8. Increase Renewable Sources of Electricity

This almost seems an afterthought after all the other measure much higher on the CoC's priority list (Oil, Coal, Nuclear).

As directed by EPAct2005, the Minerals Management Service should issue regulations for the development of renewable energy projects on the OCS and should continue to process permits for these projects in the interim.
??? Are they talking wind here? Only a recommendation for offshore wind? What about solar, geothermal, onshore wind, tidal, wave power, etc?? This is extremely weak support for renewables at the Adminstrative level. Congress should extend for eight years the renewable energy tax credits and establish a phaseout period of four years. The first part is commendable, as short term tax credit renewals prevent significant investment. It's unclear why there would be a phase out planned for a specific time. Congress should amend the renewable energy tax credits to include other effective technologies. Wind, geothermal, wave, tidal, “closed-loop” bioenergy,"open-loop" biomass, incremental hydropower, small irrigation systems, landfill gas, and municipal solid waste (MSW) are already included, so there's nothing specific here from the recommendation. Congress should increase annual funding for wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean programs at DOE from the current level of about $250 million to $450 million. While better than the current level of funding, all of these renewable sources together only receive less than half the funding that clean coal receives. If anything, each of these technologies should each receive as much or more than would 'clean coal'. Congress should extend the existing Clean Renewable Energy Bond program to enable public power systems and electric cooperatives to seek alternative financing mechanisms for clean energy projects that are not eligible for production tax credits. Again, what ARE these technologies they refer to?

9.Transform our transportation sector

DOE and the Department of Defense should continue to work in partnership to develop and deploy technologies to ensure a domestic supply of alternative fuels for military use. One easy way to do this is to employ measures to reduce the civilian demand for transportation fuels. Nowhere in here is rail infrastructure discussed, whether long haul or metropolitan area mass transit. Nowhere is fuel economy addressed. There is a smattering of biodiesel and plug-in hybrid talk, but nothing in the way of transforming the transportation sector.

10. Modernize and Protect U.S. Energy Infrastructure
11. Address Critical Shortages of Qualified Energy Professionals

Sure, motherhood and apple pie.

12. Reduce Overly Burdensome Regulations and Opportunities for Frivolous Legislation

Here's the real crux of the polluters' wish list. They want to kill the New Source Review, which would allow continued grandfathering of the worst polluting coal plants, instead of actually bringing them up to the already low standards in place now. They also want to "streamline the permitting process for refineries." We at TOD know that demand for refinery capacity will go down, so this is a non-starter.

13. Demonstrate global leadership on energy security and climate change.

About all they say here for climate change is, 1) Allows each nation to develop its own path to meet strong environmental and economic development goals. 2) Considers growing energy needs, circumstances, and resource endowments. In other words, leave us alone on climate change, we'll do what we think the circumstances call for ("hey, look at all this coal!"), and we'll plan to expand oil and coal production/use.

If I were Obama, I'd see this paper as a disqualification for General Jones, as a National Security Advisor has to see that any level of energy independence has to consider demand reduction, not demand growth, as an imperative for national energy security. This is nothing but a wish list for the nation's utilities, not a plan to transform our energy infrastructure.

Looks to me like a superb stab at deconstruction of another of those great gift-wrapped time bombs that this administration has repeatedly produced.

The devil, as always, is in the details.

Will. Kudos to you for the best post of the day and for revealing the polluting wizard behind the curtain. Just more crap from the Chamber of Commerce so that we can continue the disastrous policies of the Bush administration. We've dillied and dallied and now the ice sheets are breaking apart. No doubt W is proud of his legacy; we've screwed the pooch and there is no turning back.

Yes, very good digging and reading between the lines.

Agreed. Top post!

Re: Foreign Uranium

The foreign fuel dependence concern for nuclear is negligible compared to that which applies for oil and gas.

The cost of uranium ore represents only a few percent of the final cost of nuclear electricity, whereas for oil and gas, the fuel is most of the cost. Thus, the impact of a given increase in ore (fuel) price is more than an order of magnitude lower for nuclear.

Nuclear is also much more resistant to outright supply disruptions, due to the low cost and low volume of the ore/fuel (a huge amount of energy is derived from a tiny volume of ore). As a result, not only is it physically practical (easy) to stockpile several years supply worth of uranium, the economic (opportunity) cost of stockpiling the fuel is also very low, due to the low cost of the ore relative to the overall power cost.

Finally, there is the fact that the countries with the largest reserves of uranium are Australia and Canada (not exactly the same as the Middle East). It's also true that the US itself has ample uranium reserves, and could easily fuel its own nuclear industry, with no significant increase in power cost. (It doesn't right now because the foreign ore sources are slightly cheaper, and well, we have a "free market".)

Things aren't simply black and white. The magnitude of the problem does matter, and this is simply not a significant issue (whereas for oil and gas, it definitely is). Is anything truly domestic? Aren't many (most?) of the big renewable equipment suppliers foreign?

Jim, I grant your point on uranium supply, given who we import from, at least at the levels we do today. What amount of uranium would we need to fuel another 100 reactors? I'm not anti-nuclear (we need carbon-free baseload), though I don't see the supply chain, as well as the manufacture, installation, operation, and maintenance of the reactors themselves, as a given in most scenarios that call for a mostly nuclear energy base. How breeder reactors are up and running today? How many have been shut down? All the dependencies need to be worked out, with any solution free of moderate and high risks.

Aren't many (most?) of the big renewable equipment suppliers foreign?

All the more reason to make a major shift to create new jobs.

What amount of uranium would we need to fuel another 100 reactors?

We have enough plutonium in used fuel to provide the intial fuel load for at least 100 reactors.  As for the ongoing fuel requirement, the USA has approximately 160,000 tons of thorium reserves.  Assuming 100% breeding to U-233 and a fission energy yield of 197.9 MeV, one ton of Th-232 yields 8.23e16 J (22.9 billion kWh thermal).  If this can be converted to electricity at 40% efficiency, 9.15 billion kWh.  The total electric consumption of the USA at ~4000 billion kWh/year could be supplied by about 440 tons/year of thorium.  The existing supply of thorium would last over 300 years at that rate, which is enough to take us beyond our horizon.

How breeder reactors are up and running today?

Standard light-water reactors can be converted to thorium breeders with a change in core layout, a la Shippingport (which ran for 5 years on its thorium-based fuel load with no decrease in power output).  The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment burned a fuel load of U-233 (without a breeding blanket) without difficulty.

Molten-chloride reactors would have a much harder neutron spectrum; I suspect that they would be able to utilize both the uranium in spent PWR fuel and the national stock of depleted uranium in addition to thorium, but I'm not sure how worthwhile this would be.  The total amount of discharged reactor fuel in the USA is only about 47000 tons, though converting all the transuranics to fission products may be worthwhile as a way to eliminate the long-term radiological hazard.


In the short term, uranium supply may be somewhat of an issue, since new mines take awhile to develop, but long-term uranium supply is simply not an issue, and nobody in the industry is concerned about it. We will have enough uranium to supply us for well over a century, even w/o breeding or reprocessing, and even if we use several times as much nuclear as we do now. A century or more is more than enough time to develop breeders, or some other long-term energy source (e.g., fusion or renewables, etc..).

Uranium is a fairly ubiquitous element in the earth's crust, that we've barely started to look for. After a modest exploration effort in the 70s, we quickly found all that we needed (for decades) and basically stopped looking since then. Our known reserves are a tiny fraction of the reserves that are out there, and will eventually be found, given sufficient effort (i.e., even a small fraction of the effort that has been spent to find gas and oil). We are basically at the same point on the discovery curve/history for uranium that we were with oil in the ~1920s, and the official 20's estimates of oil reserves were ~1% of what was subsequently discovered. It costs 300 times less money to find uranium than it does to find oil (on an energy equivalent basis). Exploration should result in large (order of magnitude) increases in our reserves of high-grade uranium ore, let alone all the lower-grade ores that could be economically used.

Also, given that the ore price is a tiny fraction of the power price, nuclear can "afford" much higher ore costs, which results in an exponential increase in recoverable reserves. We may even be able to get uranium from sea water or ordinary granite (both of which amount to near-infinite reserves) before the ore cost would signifiantly impact nuclear's overall cost. In the last few years, when the price of uranium (finally) increased, exploration boomed and we've been hearing about new discoveries almost every week.

I talk about all this more at:

Thanks for your authoritative comments.
Since you have not mentioned it here, I will point out that Mr Hopf is a nuclear engineer, as it says on his site, and so has expert knowledge.

Perhaps when the subject comes up again on this site, as it surely will, then you would comment.
There has been much talk of how we were going to run out of uranium, and in my view entirely misplaced concerns raised about the EROI and EROEI of nuclear power, which are based on some truly bizarre calculations such as those by Storm and Smith.

Presumably your calculation of it costing 300 times less on an energy equivalent basis to find uranium rather than oil is on the basis of present day, inefficient reactors?

I wonder if you would comment on both how difficult it will be to go to molten salt thorium reactors, and also on the Hyperion design?

Perhaps you would consider doing a key post here?

Very sound analysis and despressingly obvious that the CoC Energy Plan is more of the same, it's business as usual.