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Mixed Views on Bush Energy Plans

Prepared by: CFR.org Staff
February 2, 2006

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The biggest surprise in the State of the Union speech was that President Bush, a former Texas oilman, used his annual address to warn of U.S. dependence on imported oil. "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," he said. In order to remedy this condition, the president proposed his Advanced Energy Initiative, aimed at ending U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing funding for clean-energy research. This included a call for further research into ethanol as a means to power vehicles, a process outlined by the Department of Energy. The U.S. Energy Information Agency offers an overview of energy markets around the globe, including predicted consumption and supply.

Critics ravaged Bush’s plan. Jacob Weisberg of Slate says Bush’s stated goals of cheaper fuel, independence from Middle East crude, and environmental improvement will involve sacrifices and trade-offs which “the president seems incapable of acknowledging.” NPR says that even while Bush proposes the use of “green” technology, his government is undermining efforts by states to make power companies use similar technology that is already available. The Christian Science Monitor says the president’s proposals don’t do enough to curb demand for oil.

Others say Bush’s plans are still far from an endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing fossil-fuel emissions. It's an increasingly important issue, since 2005 was one of the hottest years on record. A CFR Policy Initiative makes several recommendations to slow the warming trend.

CFR fellow James Lindsay tells cfr.org's Bernard Gwertzman in an interview that the big questions about Bush’s energy proposals are whether the president has singled out the right policies for lessening dependence, and if he can make anything happen under the strict constraints of the Iraq war. “Does he have the wallet to match the will? It is not clear,” Lindsay says. 

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