Tag Archives: renewable energy

What Obama means for the Electric Car

I try not to exhibit any political bias on this site because, hey, republican, democrat, libertarian, independent, everyone likes cars. And both political frontrunners this year made strong appeals for renewable, clean energy as well as electric vehicles.

McCain stressed energy independence as a way of improving international relations, because “we need to stop buying oil from countries that don’t like us very much” (he used this argument frequently). He also threw out a proposal for a $300 million dollar government prize for whoever develops an automobile battery that far surpasses current battery technology. McCain proposed to cut ethanol subsidies, which , in my opinion, is a dead horse, and offer a $5,000 tax credit to zero-emission car buyers. Obama proposed a $7000 credit for advanced-technology vehicles, plug-ins included.

Barack Obama also shed some light on his electric automobile intentions as he cut down McCain’s battery race:

After all those years in Washington, John McCain still doesn’t get it. I commend him for his desire to accelerate the search for a battery that can power the cars of the future. I’ve been talking about this myself for the last few years. But I don’t think a $300 million prize is enough. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. – Barack Obama, Las Vegas, June 24th, 2008.

It was a pretty close presidential race in terms of being EV friendly. But as the McCain campaign went on, things went downhill. He picked Sarah Palin, who still doesn’t believe that global warming is man made. Odd, because she vowed to solve global warming somehow, without discerning the cause. Just look at Joe Biden, a longtime champion of clean tech and climate change legislation, and compare him to her. Her slogan was “drill baby drill” while Biden wants to eliminate oil company subsidies and raise gas mileage mandates:

Take away the subsidy, which I’ve introduced legislation to do. It’s about $6 billion, $2.7 billion directly, to the oil companies, number one. Number two, investigate as the president of the US. Use the Justice Department and go in and investigate this whole issue of price gouging. Number three, though, we have to do what we all have said here, but first and foremost, significantly raise the mileage automobiles get and mandate it. – Joe Biden

Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Obama was not very well received when, in May, he enlightened the Detroit Auto crowd to the fact that, unless they change their ways and provide more fuel-efficient cars, they will not be able to compete with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it may be too late for GM, as it is spiraling towards bankruptcy unless they receive a government handout. And GM doesn’t seem to want to change its ways. Obama is already stressing the importance of passing a bill that will infuse $25 billion into the big 3 automakers with stipulations that force them to invest in alternative vehicles and PHEV’s. Bailing out the big 3 could be helpful to the electric car market, as Chrysler and GM are currently developing electric cars in the Volt and ENVI programs. Saving US automakers and forcing the PHEV issue would be imperative to his plan to have 1 million PHEV on the road by 2015.

A TIME article from October 22, 2008 by Joe Klein really clarifies Obama’s intentions to build a new economy based around renewable energy development:

From Time:

[Obama] has a clearer handle on the big picture, on how various policy components fit together, and a strong sense of what his top priority would be. He wants to launch an “Apollo project” to build a new alternative-energy economy. His rationale for doing so includes some hard truths about the current economic mess: “The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20. That was consumer spending. Basically, we turbocharged this economy based on cheap credit.” But the days of easy credit are over, Obama said, “because there is too much deleveraging taking place, too much debt.” A new economic turbocharger is going to have to be found, and “there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy … That’s going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office.

Also, take into account that Obama was endorsed by Al Gore, while McCain was endorsed by George Bush and Dick Cheney. During a presidential campaign, candidates say a lot of things to appeal to a moderate public. You have to look at who endorses them and what their party stands for to get a better idea of what the candidate will actually do, once in office. The Democratic party has always been the greener party and the Obama victory is a step in the right direction for electric auto technology.

Here are some useful sites to get an idea of where Obama stands on green technology:
Clean Tech and Green Business for Obama
Obama Homepage
Popular Mechanics:McCain, Obama Promise Plug-in Cars as Detroit Charts a Timetable

The Energy Revolution: Could America get left behind?

Wind Turbines

With our stock market faltering, our investment firms sinking, involvement in frustratingly unproductive conflicts, and our entire southern region battered by hurricanes, America seems to have a lot more to worry about than our environment.  What many don’t realize is that all of these issues can be tied to America’s insistence  that energy sustainability has little more purpose than appeasing tree huggers.  Investing in clean, cheap, renewable electric energy is imperative in situating America on the top of the impending energy revolution. America will continue its downward spiral if we continue to adhere to our wasteful, dirty, traditional methods of energy production.

I happened to be watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on September 23rd, 2008 when he had President Bill Clinton on the show.  Clinton explained the importance of renewable energy so precisely I had to find his exact words again:

Bill Clinton- If you remember, in my second term, we had lots of jobs in part because all these high tech industries were booming.  So like every boom, it led to a downturn.  When the downturn occurred, the federal reserve left a lot of money in America, but the only thing that was then making money was housing…. In 2001, all this money was out there; and it all went into houses and construction.  So we had to keep finding funny ways to have more houses, like, the sub prime mortgages or the derivatives. What if we had put a lot of this money into solar, and wind energy, and hybrid electric vehicles, and all these things that are making all of our cities as energy efficient as possible?  We would have created millions of jobs, raised incomes, had the revenues to provide healthcare to everybody, and there would have been competition for investment.”

[Cheers and applause from the crowd]

Jon Stewart- If we had the presidential election today, what do you think you’d win by? 20? …. You would pretty much crush them.

There are three ways of succeeding in the business world: you have to be the first, the best, or the cheapest.  America has the opportunity to succeed in energy sustainability the same way it has in many other industries.  Some pundits say the any efforts by the US to slow global warming won’t matter because China and other developing countries are creating more pollution than ever.  Well advancing clean energy is more than being green, it is about setting ourselves up in a leading role in developing technology that allows us to live cheaper and more efficiently, that will someday be utilized by everyone.

Masdar City:

Masdar City
Take, for example, the United Arab Emirates and the Masdar initiative.  In this initiative, the UAE has begun building cities that rely entirely on clean transit and renewable means of energy production.  More can be read about it here.  Now, why would a world leader in hydrocarbon production be investing in renewable energy that, if widely used, would hurt their chief export?  Well, for one, they know that their chief export is finite and will run out some time in the future.  Instead of spending their cash flow on more consumable fossil fuels, they are investing in cheap, renewable energy that will power their cities when the oil, and most of their income runs dry.

This trend of Middle Eastern countries, rich off of our addiction to oil, and making wise investments is not mitigating our current financial crisis.  The weak dollar has led to an influx of foreign investors buying up our assets.  Middle eastern firms are buying our most prestigious US landmarks, such as the Chrysler Building in NYC.

“We are buying in the U.S. … Somebody’s problem is somebody’s profit. Something you want to buy, you can buy cheaper now,” Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem (Reuters)

New York City:

BumGovernment and corporate greed supported America’s addiction to oil and derailed the alternatives long enough to run our economy into the ground, all this while endowing Middle Eastern countries with the resources necessary to buy our biggest assets and make it a world leader in clean, renewable energy.  Last week, we just passed a spending bill to open up offshore drilling and bail out faltering US auto companies, GM and Ford, whom have, so far, shown absolutely no understanding of hybrid electric vehicles, what consumers want.  The most prominent renewable energy manufacturers are coming from Europe. A Danish company, Vestas is the world leader in designing and manufacturing wind turbines.  A Scottish company, Pelamis, is developing the world’s wave energy converters. If we do not restructure how we develop energy, we will be stuck in the 20th century with our “clean” coal and offshore drilling that will give us more oil 30 years down the road, by then it should be a worthless commodity; while the rest of the world develops into clean, efficient, renewable, and cheap energy producers. Our current economy, and our persistence in traditional means of energy production could cause America to be left behind, never crawling out of the hole we have dug.