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April 28, 2005
Finally, An Energy Policy Worth Pursuing

George Bush spoke out yesterday about energy policy for a new push to get a comprehensive energy bill passed for the first time since his first election to the White House. Bush made an attempt yesterday to take his case directly to the people in order to press Congress to get past the gridlock and get some basic work accomplished to address the pressing needs for energy production in the US:

President Bush presented a plan on Wednesday to offer federal risk insurance to companies that build nuclear power plants and to encourage the construction of oil refineries on closed military bases in the United States.

Mr. Bush also proposed giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority to choose sites for new terminals to receive liquid natural gas from overseas. ...

"This problem did not develop overnight, and it's not going to be fixed overnight," Mr. Bush said in his speech at the Hilton. "But it's now time to fix it. See, we got a fundamental question we got to face here in America: Do we want to continue to grow more dependent on other nations to meet our energy needs, or do we want what is necessary to achieve greater control of our economic destiny?" Most of Mr. Bush's speech was a restatement of White House energy policy, but the plan to build refineries on closed military bases startled energy experts outside the administration. Administration officials said that bases could either be leased or sold to private companies in open bidding. At present, there are about 100 closed bases in the United States, but some have already been redeveloped as commercial airports or economic free zones for businesses.

Building more nuclear power plants has long been a part of Mr. Bush's energy policy, but offering federal risk insurance to companies or investors willing to try to get approval for them is new. In his speech, Mr. Bush said that his goal was to reduce uncertainty in the building and regulatory process, and to protect companies from construction delays beyond their control.

Bush concentrated on building facilities for power generation, and for good reason. We have not built a nuclear reactor in the US since the early 70s, and we have also not built a gasoline refinery for almost the same amount of time. Meanwhile, our power consumption has increased over 30% in the past twenty years without adding any extra generating capacity on line. That means we increasingly have relied on our reserve capacity for generation, until we have finally reached the point where it no longer exists. Any incidents resulting in significant down times at existing refineries creates emergency supply issues, as the Midwest saw two years ago when a refinery fire caused a massive increase in consumer fuel prices, as supplies had to be shipped in from other parts of the country.

The proposed use of closed military bases for refineries makes perfect sense. Most of these bases require a massive clean-up effort to transform them into civilian use, due to the chemical residue of decades of military use. Refineries don't require that kind of initial investment, and they serve American security needs as well as consumer needs. Moreover, since the land belongs to the federal government, the environmental analysis process can be streamlined, allowing these to come on line much quicker than on commercial land, where environmentalists have held up refinery production for decades.

Nuclear power and LNG imports will play an important role in energy production, especially nuclear power, as more and more of our transportation starts relying on electrical power rather than fossil fuel for energy. But to start making an impact in the short term, we need the expanded refinery capacity to come on line as soon as possible. Congress should endorse and protect the expansion of refining capability now.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 28, 2005 6:07 AM

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» President Bush Pushes Energy Proposal from RightPundit
President Bush yesterday outlined a renewed energy proposal to help expand the US base of energy sources. According to the NY Times: President Bush presented a plan on Wednesday to offer federal risk insurance to companies that build nuclear power ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 28, 2005 11:18 AM

» Tonight's Press Conference. from
Tonight at 7 PM Central Time, President Bush will hold a press conference. We'll have plenty of commentary on it afterward. Jennifer Loven, Associated Press "journalist," reports, then editorializes: President Bush is ready to begin talking with Congre... [Read More]

Tracked on April 28, 2005 4:32 PM

» Captain's Quarters Sippin' the Kool-Aid from Liberteaser
You can always count on Captain's Quarters, to defend bush no matter how ridiculous. [Read More]

Tracked on April 28, 2005 5:19 PM

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