I was at the US Department of Energy when the Gingrich gang took over and tried to shut down all of DOE’s applied energy research, claiming it was a waste of the taxpayers money. I helped organize a major report documenting the large return to the US taxpayers of federal spending on energy efficiency (and other energy technologies). The once-honorable GAO (formerly General Accounting Office, hypocritically renamed Government Accountability Office) didn’t want to meet the same fate as the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, so it became a wing of the Gingrich hit squad.
The GAO tried and failed to debunk the report, but the end result was a request to the National Academy of Sciences to independently verify the stated benefits of DOE energy research. The ensuing report Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy Research 1978 to 2000 was a stunning vindication:
… the report examines 17 R&D programs in energy efficiency and 22 programs in fossil energy funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These programs yielded economic returns of an estimated $40 billion from an investment of $13 billion.
Three energy-efficiency programs, costing approximately $11 million, produced nearly three-quarters of this benefit. Most significant were advances made in compressors for refrigerators and freezers, energy-efficient fluorescent-lighting components called electronic ballasts, and low-emission, or heat-resistant, window glass. Standards and regulations incorporating efficiencies attainable by these new technologies ensured that the technologies would be adopted nationwide, thus dramatically compounding their impact.
Let me expand on that last point: The handful of energy technologies cited above, developed through funding by my old office, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, have returned about $30 billion on an R&D investment of about $400 million. I defy anybody to identify an independent report from a body as credible as the National Academy showing such a staggering return on investment for US taxpayer dollars.
Sunday was the first day all year I seriously thought that Obama might lose. Not because he is behind in some national polls (though that is reflective of the two key messaging mistakes he has made), but because of his and Biden’s Dukakis-like performance on the Sunday shows.
Only some of his messaging mistakes involve energy-related subjects, so I have posted it elsewhere: “Obama and Biden Go Back to a Losing Message.”
By the way, if you are a hard-core political junkie who obsesses over every poll and wants to know what they really mean, then you should certainly bookmark fivethirtyeight.com, which will smooth out your highs and lows, just as it does with the national and state polls.
Here’s the absurd headline for the online version of Revkin’s NY Times story about how “a ring of navigable waters has opened all around the fringes of the cap of sea ice drifting on the warming Arctic Ocean”:
Hints?! How about “shouts from the rafters.” After seeing that, I thought “here we go again” (see “Note to media: Enough with the multiple hedges on climate science!“). Then I saw the print headline:
Now that is a good headline — accurate and no punches pulled, not misleading and wishy-washy. The story itself, however, is still too wishy-washy on the issue of warming:
The Senate bipartisan compromise on offshore drilling is, as I’ve argued, “Something for nothing.” But the “Drill, baby, drill” Republican National Convention and the VP selection of Big Oil Super Shill (B.O.S.S.) Palin mean McCain has doubled down on drilling. [I say it's 50-50 that he makes the final flip flop to embrace drilling in the Arctic national wildlife refuge, but that's for another post.]
And in his acceptance speech, McCain doubled down — or perhaps gone “all in” is the better gambling metaphor — on the absurd notion that he actually believes in reaching across the aisle. The Gang-of-10 bill is the best chance — indeed, the only chance — the Dems will have to simultaneously give the lie to McCain’s faux bipartisanship and to expose the Big Energy Lie, the absurd notion that McCain and the Republicans believe in an all-of-the-above energy for dealing with our energy crises.
Yes, I know the country already opened up the vast majority of offshore areas for drilling, and oil prices doubled since then (see “Offshore drilling raises oil prices*). And I know offshore drilling will never lower gasoline prices Americans pay (see “The cruel offshore-drilling hoax, Part 1“). But we lost that debate. Why? The Dems are simply too terrible and inconsistent at messaging — and the drama-driven media simply refuses to publish the facts of the matter. It is politically inconceivable we won’t open some of the coastal plains for drilling, if not at $4 a gallon, then when we get to $6 or $8.
That means Dems who oppose more coastal drilling are taking a big political hit for no reason at all. So it’s time for enviros and progressives to get over it. And the Gang-of-10 bill is not just something for nothing. It is a whole bunch of good things — from both a political and policy perspective — for nothing: