Bush, the uncompassionate, anti-technology President

On the heels of giving away the (decorative) centerpiece of his climate technology effort, Nevergen Futuregen, Bush released a heartless and mindless FY09 energy budget today.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent around an email on the President’s Budget Request for FY2009 (I will post budget details later). Bingaman is “pleased to see overall growth in the DOE budget, particularly in the area of basic research,” but critical of a number of dubious Administration choices:

  • The new Administration budget also cuts funding for solar energy research, hydropower, and industrial energy efficiency. “If American energy-intensive industries, and the jobs they provide, are to prosper in a future in which we impose a cost on carbon dioxide, we need to act aggressively now to position them as global leaders in energy efficiency of all kinds,” Bingaman said. “It’s a bad time to be rolling back this societal investment in our future high-wage jobs.”

[So much for the “we back clean technology because it is the only solution to global warming” rhetoric.]

  • The Administration’s proposal [zeroes] out funding of DOE’s weatherization programs from their currently appropriated level of over $220 million. The weatherization assistance program increases the energy efficiency of dwellings occupied by low-income Americans, thus directly reducing their energy costs. This is important, as energy costs account for about 13 percent of the household budgets of low-income families, compared to 3.5 percent or less for all other Americans. With energy costs rising significantly, and an economy poised on recession, the weatherization program is more needed than ever, and the funds already appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2008 will pay for upgrades to 85,000 low-income dwellings. “It’s hard to fathom why this program is being terminated by the DOE now — a lot of households need help reducing their energy bills, and the work of insulating their homes creates residential construction jobs that are greatly needed right now, too,” Bingaman stated. “I am working to get weatherization funding for an additional 77,000 dwellings into the economic stimulus package before the Senate, so the program can help over 162,000 households this year. I will certainly urge my colleagues to reverse DOE’s ill-timed budget cut for fiscal year 2009.”

[What does Bush say to poor people who are trying to keep warm in the face of record gas/oil prices (driven by his failed policies): “Let them burn cake!” This decision must be quite a surprise to the 3 or 4 remaining people who still believed the “compassionate conservative” nonsense.]

  • Bingaman questioned the continued diversion of oil from tight world markets into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The new budget request states that this diversion of the government’s royalty oil will continue, despite the fact that it is likely adding to upward pressure on oil prices. “We need to investigate the effects of this diversion more closely. I will be calling a hearing later this month to examine the rationale and effects of the government competing with refineries for the highest quality crude oil,” Bingaman said.

[Ever the savvy business man, Bush keeps filling his tank at the highest possible prices, even though that extra demand actually helps keep oil prices at record levels!]

  • The Administration’s proposal once again zeroes out all research and development (R&D) relating to oil and natural gas, and proposes to repeal $50 million in guaranteed funding outside the regular budget for onshore natural gas exploration. This leaves coal as the only fossil fuel on which DOE now proposes to carry out any research. “This Administration has a real blind spot when it comes to developing new domestic natural gas resources. The gas that is most available to the consumers who need it is located onshore, and the key players in developing it are independent oil and gas producers. They aren’t big enough to have R&D departments that undertake the research needed to keep our natural gas supplies robust. If DOE walks away from the R&D needed to keep natural gas flowing in an economic and environmentally responsible manner, then consumers will pay through higher prices and working families will pay through loss of manufacturing jobs that depend on natural gas. This is another short-sighted decision that I hope the Congresses reverses.” Bingaman said.

[Natural gas, who needs that? We have all the coal we need, and we’ll be able to burn it without carbon dioxide emissions thanks to pioneering efforts like … uhh, like … Futuregen …. Never mind.]

10 Responses to Bush, the uncompassionate, anti-technology President

  1. Paul K says:

    Futuregen can go forward. All they need is about $1.2 billion. Let’s go ahead and get them the money. I’ll gladly throw in $10. How about you? How about everyone who reads this blog? How about it?

  2. Joe says:

    Keep your money. Nevergen isn’t even a well-managed, well-designed project. I’d rather you buy some carbon offsets — and you know what I think about that

  3. RhapsodyInGlue says:

    I fully support government funded research and pilot scale development at national labs and universities. It tends to be research of a nature that corporations would not undertake. Plus, it serves a vital role in subsidizing the education of a lot of very smart engineers and scientists.

    However, Futuregen would have been subsidizing full scale commercial technology that is not cost effective enough on it’s own to survive. It would seem commitment to long term caps would provide the necessary incentives if the technology is truly cost competitive with the alternatives. I’d need a pretty good economic argument why such a large scale subsidy for one facility would be better than alternative uses for the money.

  4. Paul K says:

    What I am going to buy is current solar and wind applications to be given to consumers.

    Another commenter said the government has decided to fund a better project. I am surprised you are so negative about investment in Futuregen after all the time spent exposing its terrible demise. Now you say it wasn’t any good in the first place.

  5. John Mashey says:

    RiG: yes, this is just standard R&D management’s “progressive commitment”, i.e., do research …. then development/deployment, and know which is which. One always funds multiple efforts at the earlier stages, and picks among the better efforts to continue.

    It’s an axiom among venture capitalists that they fund D, not R, although on occasiona, something they thought was D turns out to be R. :-)

  6. battic door says:

    How To Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

    Imagine leaving a window open all winter long — the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

    These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in — costing you higher heating bills.

    Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

    But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home — the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Attic Stairs

    When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.

    Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.

    Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door — do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

    Whole House Fans and AC Returns

    Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.

    If attic access is inconvenient, or for AC returns, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter and AC return. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed.


    Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers.

    Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent.

    A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

    Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? Hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when warm heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

    Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

    In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house.

    Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

    If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit

  7. Ronald says:

    I installed fireplace inserts as a job at one time and from what I found was that there are a lot of leaking fireplaces and fireplaces with their dampers open. Which is one reason to put in fireplace inserts whether it is a gas or wood insert. Fireplaces are just holes in the ceiling and air will get out without a great shutoff system.

  8. Laurie says:

    I agree with Rhapsody that the gov’t can and should subsidize research on solar and anything else that provides green energy. Corporations can’t compete with the gov’t subsidies to oil companies and these billion dollar corporations will eat start ups that are solely green.

    I’d like to see a government that leads by saying (with my tax dollars) that we support renewable, clean energy as energetically as we support gas, corporate farms, and military weapons manufacturers.

  9. says:

    lets hope the gov finds something good

  10. GreenNetizen says:

    This was very helpful. Thanks for pointing out the highlights of the budget.