Energy Rhetoric and Reality

Federal research and development spending on energy has been in free fall for more than 20 years, notes the New York Times in this editorial.

Published: 27-Jan-2007

For six years, off and on, President Bush has been talking about the need for alternative fuels and conservation to make the country less beholden to unreliable sources of foreign oil. Yet all he has to show for it is a growing dependence on foreign oil, a growing climate problem and an increasingly cynical public. Mr. Bush talked the same game on Tuesday night, offering several impressively specific goals. But whether these new pledges turn out to be as empty as the old ones depends on his capacity for follow-through, and history is not encouraging.

Mr. Bush was true to form on one subject. The White House had promised nothing on global warming, and he delivered nothing. He mentioned “global climate change” but showed no sense of urgency on the issue. Nor was there any sign that he had even heard the ever-louder entreaties from Congress — and from many of his friends in the business community — that he support a national program of mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

At one point, he did suggest that his proposals for alternative fuels and more efficient automobiles could also help reduce greenhouse gases. But these gains would be marginal — passenger vehicles account for only one-fifth of these gases. And even these gains will greatly depend on what alternative fuels are chosen.

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