The Bush/Cheney Energy Plan
Originally Published in Issue #38, July-August,
by John McClaughry
Late in May Vice President Dick Cheney unveiled his working group
report to the President on a National Energy Policy. The report is
a comprehensive, factual, hard-headed examination of current U.S.
energy use and the options for the future, in an exceptionally fine
The thrust of the report is, not surprisingly, producing more energy.
The report does pay its respects to the merits of conservation and
efficiency, and makes a number of recommendations for improved consumer
price information, appliance efficiency standards, and fuel efficient
hybrid vehicles. But it is clear that cost-effective conservation
cannot take the place of very considerable increases in energy production
for our energy-drunk society.
To get increased production, the report recommends new oil and gas
recovery technology, incentives for deep gas and offshore drilling,
new pipeline and high voltage transmission construction, and a host
of regulatory changes to encourage coal, petroleum, and nuclear energy
production. This part of the report has been the target of environmentalist
objections, because it calls for opening drilling on the so-called
1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. This is largely
a political and symbolic issue, since the 2000 acre drilling footprint
in 11 million non-wilderness acres of Arctic tundra will have no conceivable
adverse environmental effect. Whether the 10 billion barrels of oil
the 1002 area is believed to contain will ever be extracted and shipped
to market, and whether anyone will want it at the price at which it
will be offered, are questions for the future.
Of greater interest to IE readers are the sections dealing
with "alternative" energy sources, which the report defines
as transportation fuels other than gasoline and diesel, distributed
generation by microturbines and fuel cells, and "future sources,
such as hydrogen and fusion."
The first group includes ethanol and biofuel alternatives to petroleum,
plus LNG. The report advocates continuing the current ethanol fuel
tax exemption, which is equivalent to a 60 cents per gallon subsidy.
This has to be one of the most egregious corporate welfare programs
in existence. It benefits corn farmers but particularly the Archer
Daniels Midland Corporation (ADM). ADM uses corn to make ethanol,
for which there would be no fuel market without the subsidy, and distillers
dried grains, which are dumped abroad as cheap animal feed.
Distributed generation has intriguing possibilities, but is presently
limited by the corridor infrastructure (pipelines, rail) available
to bring gaseous fuel (natural gas or hydrogen) to the point of generation.
In addition, there is no universal standard for grid interconnection
for distributed generation or net metering; zoning laws may block
siting of units; and high initial costs and tax disadvantages (compared
to utilities) discourage their use other than as emergency backups.
"In the long run," says the report, "alternative energy
technologies such as hydrogen show great promise." The report
envisions hydrogen production from the combustion of traditional and
renewable fuels, and in fuel cells. It supports continuing the DOT
fuel cell transit bus program, and expresses the (probably vain) hope
that high fuel cell costs will come down dramatically to permit widespread
Four paragraphs are devoted to hot fusion: They conclude by saying:
"The technological advances experienced over the past decade
and the advances yet to come will hopefully transform the energy sources
of the distant future." Hope springs eternal.
One word that never appears in the report is "patent." As
IE readers are painfully aware, the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office has set its official face against anything that can be construed
(by establishment scientific critics) to be "cold fusion."
Even the allegation that an application represents "cold fusion"
has proven sufficient to block the patent. This has happened to Dr.
Randell Mills of BlackLight Power (BLP), despite his vigorous protests
that his hydrogen orbit shrinking technique has nothing whatever to
do with fusing nuclei. BLP was awarded its blanket patent in February
2000, after four years of prosecution, but its next five applications
relating to the actual hydride compounds were abruptly pulled back
on the eve of issuance. BLP is currently in the D.C. Circuit Court
of Appeals protesting PTO's arbitrary and unlawful denial.
It would be too much to expect that a new administration would endorse
or even address in its energy policy such controversial and new energy
techniques variously called cold fusion, magnetic power, zero point
energy, aetheric power, or hydrino energy. Doing so would call down
the wrath of orthodox science and the political influence of the government
funded laboratories. Perhaps as the body of supportive data for new
energy techniques accumulates there will be a corresponding rise in
interest in the Bush Administration. Let us hope so.