Renewable Energy Subterfuge: Bushs Sleight of Hand

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"Renewable Energy Subterfuge: Bushs Sleight of Hand"

sleight.jpgWatch what we do, not we say,” Attorney General John N. Mitchell accurately warned at the dawn of the Nixon administration. This could also be a fitting epitaph for President Bush’s energy policies. Despite frequent claims of support for renewable energy over the years, the record shows consistent opposition to efforts to spur investments in clean wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources.

The subterfuge began when President Bush announced his administration’s National Energy Policy on May 17, 2001. The White House’s plan was based on recommendations provided to Vice President Cheney from coal, oil, nuclear and other dirty energy companies. The speech included a soothing nod to renewable electricity–five weeks after the administration proposed slashing millions from renewable energy programs.

The routine has varied little since Bush first took office. President Bush pays lip service to clean energy technologies while opposing many voluntary incentives and other efforts to promote these very same technologies. Often, these events occur only days apart.

Another attempt at sleight of hand will occur tomorrow, when President Bush addresses the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference on Wednesday, March 5. This speech comes just seven days after the administration opposed House passage of the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, H.R. 5351. This bill would extend tax credits to encourage producers and homeowners to employ wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy technologies. Without an extension, an estimated 116,000 construction workers and other employees will lose their jobs.

President Bush will no doubt use his speech to extol the virtues of clean energy technology incentives even while he prepares to wield his veto pen to stop legislation that would do just that. This will only be one event in a long string of Bush rhetoric that doesn’t match reality.

What Bush Said
“The plan …expands and diversifies America’s supply of all sources of energy–oil and gas, clean coal, solar, wind, biomass, hydropower and other renewables, as well as safe and clean nuclear power”
Remarks to Capital City Partnership, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 17, 2001

What Bush Did
Only seven of the 105 recommendation in the National Energy Policy Report concern renewable energy. National Energy Policy report, May 17, 2001.

“The [energy] plan does little for efficiency or renewable energy.” New York Times, May 18, 2001

“I hope some day that these renewables will be the dominant source of energy in America. I’m not so sure how realistic that is.” President Bush, New York Times, May 19, 2001


What Bush Said
“Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil.”
State of the Union address, January 29, 2002

What Bush Did
“Renewable energy R&D funding was cut in biomass, geothermal and solar energy programs” in President Bush’s proposed FY 2003 budget. Greenwire, February 7, 2002


What Bush Said

“Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home.”
State of the Union address, January 28, 2003

What Bush Did
“President Bush’s proposed federal budget slashes funding for numerous clean energy and energy efficiency programs, including funding for bioenergy, wind and geothermal electricity sources. The cuts were announced less than a week after the President announced his goal of energy independence in the State of the Union address.” Union of Concerned Scientists, February 6, 2003


What Bush Said

“To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. … my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology–from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol.”
State of the Union address, February 2, 2005

What Bush Did
Bush’s Fiscal Year 2006 budget proposes “$354 million for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy programs–a 5.6 percent reduction from the proposed 2005 budget…The overall decrease in DOE renewable energy funding…reflects a reduction in spending on other renewable technologies such as solar, geothermal, and bioenergy.” Union of Concerned Scientists, February 22, 2005


What Bush Said

“I will tell you with $55 oil we don’t need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.”
Remarks to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Convention, April 14, 2005

What Bush Did
Bush signs the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on August 8, 2005, giving a total of $4.3 billion in tax incentives to big oil companies. New York Times, July 28, 2005


What Bush Said

“The bill I sign today will help diversify our energy supply by promoting alternative and renewable energy sources… When you hear us talking about less dependence on foreign sources of energy, one of the ways to become less dependent is to enhance the use of renewable sources of energy.”
Remarks at the signing of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, August 8, 2005

What Bush Did
The Energy Policy Act includes $25 billion for oil and gas, coal, and nuclear plants, and only $6.4 billion for renewable energy. Friends of the Earth, July 27, 2005


What Bush Said

“So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative–a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research–at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind.”
State of the Union address, January 31, 2006

What Bush Did
“The overall amount of the [Fiscal Year 2007 budget] request for energy efficiency, renewables, and energy conservation ($1.176 billion) is almost exactly the same amount appropriated in Fiscal Year 2001 for the same purposes.” This figure is nearly a 9 percent reduction from 2001. Democratic Policy Committee, February 8, 2006

“Research and development funding for geothermal and hydropower has been eliminated [in Bush's FY2007 budget]. The FY07 budget request for research and development for wind…is a $930,000 (2 percent) cut from last year’s request. … The 2007 budget also proposes cutting almost two-thirds of the $23 million designated for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the 2002 Farm Bill.” Union of Concerned Scientists, February 13, 2006


What Bush Said

“My message to those who work here is we want you to know how important your work is; we appreciate what you’re doing, and we expect you to keep doing it, and we want to help you keep doing it.”
Remarks at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, February 21, 2006

What Bush Did
Two weeks before President Bush’s visit, NREL’s budget was cut by $28 billion, forcing the lay off of 28 researchers and other employees. The day before his visit, “The Department of Energy–which owns NREL–gave it $5 million to help restore the jobs… The remaining $23 million budget shortfall means the lab’s canceled contracts and subcontracts with private partners will stay in place.”
Rocky Mountain News, February 22, 2006


What Bush Said

“It’s in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply–the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power.
State of the Union address
, January 23, 2007

What Bush Did
President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposes to cut research funds for wind, eliminate them for geothermal energy, and leave funding for solar stagnant. U.S. Department of Energy, February 5, 2007

President Bush threatens to veto the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act (H.R. 2776), which includes tax incentives for producers and homeowners to employ renewable energy technologies, and the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3221), which includes a 15 percent renewable electricity standard. Statement of Administration Policy, August 3, 2007

President Bush threatens to veto the Energy Independence and Security Act because it includes a renewable electricity standard and renewable energy tax credits funded by the elimination of several tax breaks for big oil companies. Statement of Administration Policy, December 7, 2007


What Bush Said

“By encouraging cooperative conservation, innovation, and new technologies, my administration has compiled a strong environmental record… And we are taking positive steps to confront the important challenge of climate change.”
Statement on Earth Day, April 20, 2007

What Bush Did
At the G-8 meeting in Germany six weeks later, “Bush sidesteps G8′s climate change agenda,” by rejecting binding reductions of global warming pollution proposed by Germany and Great Britain. The Independent, June 1, 2007


What Bush Said

“Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future.”
State of the Union address, January 28, 2008

What Bush Did
President Bush proposes a 27 percent cut for “Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs.” This includes zeroing out the Renewable Energy Production Incentive program, and cutting solar energy programs. Center for American Progress, February 8, 2008

President Bush opposed inclusion of extension of tax incentives for producers and homeowners to employ renewable energy technologies as part of the Senate economic stimulus package. President Bush’s opposition was a key element of its defeat. New York Times, February 7, 2008.

On February 26, 2008, President Bush opposed House passage of the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, H.R. 5351. It would have renewed the production and investment tax credits for wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources that will expire at the end of this year. Without an extension, an estimated 116,000 workers could lose their jobs due to uncertainty about incentives essential for renewable energy projects. Statement of Administration Policy, February 26, 2008

- Daniel J. Weiss and Nick Kong

Republished from the Center for American Progress website

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2 Responses to Renewable Energy Subterfuge: Bushs Sleight of Hand

  1. Ronald says:

    Kerry was supposed to be the flip-flopper in 2004. Rigghht.

  2. John Mashey says:

    1) http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2008/03/03/daily25.html talks of Applied Materials $1.9B deal with Chinese for equipment to make solar panels in plants there. Good news, but I’ve liked it even better if the plants were being built in the US, which might have been if Bush weren’t Bush.

    I recommend AMAT’s solar page, and if you ever get a chance to hear Charile Gay talk, do it:
    http://www.appliedmaterials.com/news/solar_strategy.html

    2) And fortunately, some of us get to hear Nobel Physicists talk about climate and energy at little local town meetings (30 people) where we can ask questions. I *strongly* recommend, although it’s a few years’ old now & a few things are out of date:

    http://www-group.slac.stanford.edu/do/brichter/presentations/2004_10_05.htm

    BTW: Al Gore’s AIT talk is isomorphic to the first third of this. When I heard him, Richter mentioned denialists with disgust, and of course knew many of the early ones personally.

    Unfortunately, Bush either doesn’t get to do this, or doesn’t listen.