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View From Lodi, CA: Bush Clueless on Energy
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February 17, 2006, 04:00 AM
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President Bush finally spoke straight to the American people when he recently told the public not to expect any price breaks from the oil giants.

Bush, continuing his history of making public statements that reflect no concern whatsoever for the plight of the average American, said,

"I think that basically the price is determined by the marketplace and that`s the way it should be."

Bush`s cavalier attitude works fine for him. He doesn`t spend 10 cents on gas or any other consumer item whose price has been driven up by energy costs.

And despite Bush`s comment that "America is addicted to oil," his trips on the gas-guzzling Air Force One will not be cut back any time soon.

In his defense of the $36 billion profit ($5 million an hour!) Exxon Mobil recorded in 2005, Bush spoke like the true oilman that he is.

To add insult to injury, Bush also tried to slip more nonsense past the sleeping American public.

Here`s Bush`s absurd claim referring to the possibility converting corn, wood, and grasses into ethanol:

"I believe in a relatively quick period of time, within my lifetime, we`ll be able to reduce if not end dependence on Middle Eastern oil."

But Bush`s wishful thinking ignores three major problems.

First, when asked if ethanol could ever be a substitute for gasoline, international agriculture expert and Cornell University professor David Pimental answered unequivocally, "Not a chance."

Pimental calls the manufacturing of ethanol from corn "unsustainable subsidized food burning" that would use more energy in its production that it would save.

And, concludes Pimental, to grow enough corn to replace gas consumption would require more acreage than is available over the entire continental U.S.  

Second, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, by 2050 our current population will double to nearly 600 million people from today`s level of 300 million. From 2005 to 2006 alone, the nation`s population grew by 2.7 million.

By 2100, the U.S. population will exceed 1 billion, making the nation roughly the size of China and India. The amount of oil the U.S. needs will grow in each of those years as the nation becomes more—not less—energy dependent.

No matter what Bush or any of his successors may say, the United States will be dependent on foreign sources of oil for years to come because of our failure to come to grips with huge increases in population.

Third, even while we will remain reliant on overseas sources for oil, it is unlikely given current conditions that those sources will be able to deliver the quantities the US will need.

In an interview with Petroleum News, Matt Simmons, chairman of the Houston-based Simmons and Co. and author of Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy,  believes that Saudi Arabia has " actually exceeded sustainable peak production already."

Simmons predicts that while we will never run out of oil even during the lifetime of our grandchildren. But we are inching up to a point when ten years from now production will drop to 75 million barrels per day from 85 million bpd, our current output.

The long-term outlook is even bleaker, according to Simmons:

"By 2030 we could easily have a world that can only produce 10-20 barrels per day."

If Simmons is correct, and many analysts agree with him, what the U.S. needs to go is first admit that we are entering an era with a declining supply of oil.

Then, much more study needs to be done There are already technological innovations that show how a plug-in hybrid car could reach 500 miles per gallon of gasoline.

While we are spending billions for Homeland Security not enough is being done to protect our borders and limit population growth.

Politicians from both parties refuse to deal with the crushing population growth that is fueling the demand for oil. We get deeper into the hole every day.

To bring the U.S. to its knees, all our enemies have to do is wait until our population outstrips the affordable oil supply.

If America doesn`t get solid leadership soon on these crucial issues that could happen sooner than you think. 

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.