EV World Urges Support For Alternative Energy Bills

Editor urges support for incentives that will improve energy efficiency and help the economy.

Published: 29-Mar-2001

Dear Senator Nelson,

I want to encourage you to not support the Bush energy policy which does little to reduce America's dependence on imported oil, but instead would weaken the US economy, further pollute our air, land and water, and hand out billions in taxpayer dollars to America's biggest and wealthiest polluters.

As the editor in chief of Omaha-based EVWorld.com, I had the opportunity this week to interview Cutler Cleveland of Boston University. Professor Cleveland and his colleague Robert Kaufman have studied the oil and gas industry for 20 years and conclude on their web site (www.oilanalytics.com) that giving more tax incentives and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry will not result in any appreciable increase in oil or gas discoveries in the continental US. Similar measures in the late 1970s and early 1980s produced no increase in American fossil fuel reserves. In fact during this time, production actually declined despite billions in tax incentives. The reason is we simply have no more cheap, easy-to-get-at oil and gas reserves in the US. Any oil or gas that is recoverable is simply too expensive to be commercially worth pumping to the surface.

Professor Cleveland also points out that drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge will do nothing to reduce US dependence on imported oil, irrespective of any environmental arguments.

He states in our interview, which will be aired the next two weeks on the http://evworld.com web site -- that by the time production begins in 15-20 years, it will represent only 1% of total world oil production at the time. It will have no measurable effect on crude oil prices, which are set by the larger world oil market. In addition, the maximum recoverable oil from ANWR is estimated at only 3 billion barrels which represents just 152 days supply at current US oil consumption rates. Again, the only beneficiaries of the Administration's ANWR policy will be Mr. Bush's campaign contributors and the citizens of the state of Alaska, each of whom receive a $2,000 a year in oil company subsidies paid out by the state.

Instead of spending an estimated $20 billion on energy company tax breaks and incentives on more "dry holes" or worse yet, exploiting one of the world's last remaining wild places, we need to encourage greater energy efficiency and new energy technologies. If we want to give tax breaks and incentives, here are four things we can do right now that will have a meaningful impact on both the economy and our quality of life today and in the future:

(1) Encourage the conversion of old, inefficient oil and gas-fired home heating systems to geothermal heat pumps. A geothermal system (which costs about $3-4,000 more than a new, high efficiency gas furnace alone) uses the earth's thermal mass to help heat and cool a home providing savings both in the winter and summer. Here in Omaha, homeowners with geothermal systems used only a fraction of the natural gas and electricity comparable homes used this winter. Why not give a cost differential grant or tax break to homeowners who convert to this system? This will help the local Nebraska economy far more than tax breaks to Texas oil companies.

(2) Support the new Johnson-McNulty alternative energy bill introduced yesterday by Senator Lieberman which would give tax incentives to homeowners and small businesses that install residential fuel cells that both generate electricity and hot water at very high efficiency rates and are soon to be introduced on the consumer market. Instead of subsidizing old, inefficient energy technologies, we would be spurring the growth of new technology companies with commensurate growths in US jobs and eventually exports since the US and Canada are currently the world leaders in fuel cell and microturbine technology.

(3) Support tax credits for car buyers who buy hybrid-electric cars like the Honda Insight I personally drive every day. The Honda Insight gets 60-70 mpg. The Toyota Prius gets 45-52 mpg. The Ford Escape hybrid-electric SUV -- due out in 2002 -- will get as high as 40 mpg, the company projects. Three states already provide modest tax breaks for these type of high-efficiency vehicles. Why not encourage Congress to do the same?

(4) Support measures that will encourage the use of distributed generation technologies, removing obstacles and non-competitive red-tape that keeps more efficient energy production technologies out of the electric generation marketplace.

Please don't let the Administration continue to erode 25 years worth of progress on improving the environment while squandering tens of billions of dollars on destructively useless programs which will not help meet our energy needs today nor in the future.

Finally, I would be delighted to work with your staff to help author any bills that would further any of the above proposals.


J. William Moore
Editor In Chief

Omaha, Nebraska

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