American Elephants


Saving the Planet With Ideology, Rainbows and Taxpayers’ Billions by The Elephant's Child

Marita Noon, at the Energy Tribune, has located a speech that Obama made to the Detroit Economic Club in May 2007, when he was a mere Senator from Illinois, running for the presidency.  He rolled out his ‘Three Part Plan to Change the Cars we Drive and the Fuels we Use: in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fight the cause of global warming.’

By 2020, he expected his plan to cut our oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day; take 50 million cars’ worth of pollution off the road; save more than $50 billion at the gas pump; and help the auto industry save millions of jobs and regain its competitive footing in the world. His plan relied on three key components:  1. Fuel Economy Standards: he envisioned a 4% increase each year. This would save 1.3 million barrels of oil per day and 20 billion gallons of gasoline per year. 2.Help for Consumers Lots more tax credits for buying ultra-efficient vehicles. 3. Help for Manufacturers: Retiree health costs add $1500 to the cost of every car. Help with health care costs in return investing 50% of savings into technology for fuel-efficient cars + tax incentives for retooling. His very long speech contained the following:

We know what the dangers are here. We know that our oil addiction is jeopardizing our national security – that we fuel our energy needs by sending $800 million a day to countries that include some of the most despotic, volatile regimes in the world. We know that oil money funds everything from the madrassas that plant the seeds of terror in young minds to the Sunni insurgents that attack our troops in Iraq. It corrupts budding democracies, and gives dictators from Venezuela to Iran the power to freely defy and threaten the international community. It even presents a target for Osama bin Laden, who has told al Qaeda to, “focus your operations on oil, especially in Iraq and the Gulf area, since this will cause [the Americans] to die off on their own.”

We know that our oil dependency is jeopardizing our planet as well – that the fossil fuels we burn are setting off a chain of dangerous weather patterns that could condemn future generations to global catastrophe. We see the effects of global climate change in our communities and around the world in record

drought, famine, and forest fires. Hurricanes and typhoons are growing in intensity, and rapidly melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland could raise global sea levels high enough to swallow up large portions of every coastal city and town.

Oops!

Well, he was invested in cap-and-trade then as well, and he went on at great lengths about biofuels, a National low-Carbon Fuel Standard, jeopardizing the planet, oil addiction, alternate fuels, green energy,  hurricanes and typhoons, those old rising sea-levels, etc. etc. He added “For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time.”

Sheesh, wasn’t anyone paying attention at the time? These were members of the Economic Club. No economists?

The Ideology got way ahead of Reality.  And so we got the Volt, the car nobody wants, even with hefty subsidy and battery packs that catch on fire.  At least the dealers don’t want it. They are turning down their allocations.  Many of the Volts that were sold went to governments. New York City bought 50, the city of DeLand, FL used part of a $1.2 million grant to buy 5. The President committed the federal government to buying more than 100.  And GE, who is making charging stations, will buy 3000 by 2015. That’s beyond crony capitalism into some kind of crony incest.

Citing statistics for the Nissan Leaf, Forbes Magazine counts the cost of an electric vehicle (EV): “At $0.11/KWH for electricity and $4.00/gallon for gasoline, you would have to drive the Leaf 164,000 miles to recover its additional purchase cost. Counting interest, the miles to payback is 197,000 miles. Because it is almost impossible to drive a Leaf more than 60 miles a day, the payback with interest would take more than nine years.” But, they state: “The cost is not the biggest problem.” “The biggest drawback is not range, but refueling time. A few minutes spent at a gas station will give a conventional car 300 to 400 miles of range. In contrast, it takes 20 hours to completely recharge a Nissan Leaf from 110V house current. An extra-cost 240V charger shortens this time to 8 hours. There are expensive 480V chargers that can cut this time to 4 hours, but Nissan cautions that using them very often will shorten the life of the car’s batteries.”

Obama gave billions to “green” energy companies, Solyndra is just one of the many failures.  Beacon Power Company filed for Bankruptcy — they had developed technology to provide energy storage for the intermittent solar and wind industries. EnerDel made lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, but there really wasn’t any demand and they went bankrupt, as did a number of other companies financed by the administration.

Never fear, President Obama plans to ride his rescue of General Motors and Chrysler to a re-election victory.  He made a surprise visit to the Detroit auto show, and AP reports that the auto bailout is a case study for his efforts to revive the economy and a potential point of contrast with Republican Mitt Romney — who opposed Obama’s decision to pour billions of dollars into the auto companies. The president’s campaign sees the auto storyline as a potent argument against Romney — who even though he is the son of a Detroit auto executive actually opposed the bailout.  That storyline requires a quite a bit of embroidering, and the public may just possibly not be as dumb as Obama thinks they are.

Well, Obama hasn’t got a record of accomplishments to run on, but he’s skilled at telling stories. Maybe it’ll work.


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