Is the Apollo Alliance Back?

If President Bush's mention of real steps toward energy independence this year (he has previously talked of it only in terms of increased domestic oil production) has done anything, it is to at least (for the moment) greatly increase public exposure to the problem and to the various alternatives out there. Among many others, the New York Times weighed in with an opinion piece pointing out that Bush's proposals were far too meager compared to the scope of the problem, and in particular the egregious omission of global warming as a reason for doing this is simply inexcusable. The administration itself appears to have backtracked today on the scope of the initiative, possibly under pressure from Saudi Arabia. But particularly interesting to me was some commentary from Dan Carol suggesting a set of principles modeled on the Apollo Alliance program. Details below...  

Carol's four principles are:

Of these, the first one is definitely essential: if we don't attack the problem with the full scale of resources we need to, we'll not resolve it.

Measurable results are also important - however, by adding in job creation measures and even national security (BEFORE environmental results?) Carol seems to have priorities wrong here - and this is probably a general criticism of the Apollo Alliance effort as well. Perhaps in part because it's supported by unions, and the general left-side-of-the-political-spectrum in favor of labor, a federal program whose primary objective is job creation probably seems like a good idea. But it isn't!

Yes, creation of good new jobs should certainly be a part of our new energy picture, but the primary measurable criteria has to be the extent to which each dollar spent reduces CO2 release to the atmosphere. Focusing on a non-primary objective can easily derail a major federal program - it's critically important that the right criteria be applied in deciding where scarce resources are to be spent.

And when we're talking about spending billions, developing R&D and providing incentives for new technologies and new businesses of all stripes, there will certainly be job creation following along. That's not going to be the problem. So let's focus the program on what's really important - reduction in fossil fuel use and mitigation of global warming, and all the rest will follow.

Created: 2006-02-02 21:29:19 by Arthur Smith