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infinite energy

The Bush/Cheney Energy Plan
Originally Published in Issue #38, July-August, 2001
by John McClaughry

Late in May Vice President Dick Cheney unveiled his working group report to the President on a National Energy Policy. The report is a comprehensive, factual, hard-headed examination of current U.S. energy use and the options for the future, in an exceptionally fine presentation.

The thrust of the report is, not surprisingly, producing more energy. The report does pay its respects to the merits of conservation and efficiency, and makes a number of recommendations for improved consumer price information, appliance efficiency standards, and fuel efficient hybrid vehicles. But it is clear that cost-effective conservation cannot take the place of very considerable increases in energy production for our energy-drunk society.

To get increased production, the report recommends new oil and gas recovery technology, incentives for deep gas and offshore drilling, new pipeline and high voltage transmission construction, and a host of regulatory changes to encourage coal, petroleum, and nuclear energy production. This part of the report has been the target of environmentalist objections, because it calls for opening drilling on the so-called 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. This is largely a political and symbolic issue, since the 2000 acre drilling footprint in 11 million non-wilderness acres of Arctic tundra will have no conceivable adverse environmental effect. Whether the 10 billion barrels of oil the 1002 area is believed to contain will ever be extracted and shipped to market, and whether anyone will want it at the price at which it will be offered, are questions for the future.

Of greater interest to IE readers are the sections dealing with "alternative" energy sources, which the report defines as transportation fuels other than gasoline and diesel, distributed generation by microturbines and fuel cells, and "future sources, such as hydrogen and fusion."

The first group includes ethanol and biofuel alternatives to petroleum, plus LNG. The report advocates continuing the current ethanol fuel tax exemption, which is equivalent to a 60 cents per gallon subsidy. This has to be one of the most egregious corporate welfare programs in existence. It benefits corn farmers but particularly the Archer Daniels Midland Corporation (ADM). ADM uses corn to make ethanol, for which there would be no fuel market without the subsidy, and distillers dried grains, which are dumped abroad as cheap animal feed.

Distributed generation has intriguing possibilities, but is presently limited by the corridor infrastructure (pipelines, rail) available to bring gaseous fuel (natural gas or hydrogen) to the point of generation. In addition, there is no universal standard for grid interconnection for distributed generation or net metering; zoning laws may block siting of units; and high initial costs and tax disadvantages (compared to utilities) discourage their use other than as emergency backups.

"In the long run," says the report, "alternative energy technologies such as hydrogen show great promise." The report envisions hydrogen production from the combustion of traditional and renewable fuels, and in fuel cells. It supports continuing the DOT fuel cell transit bus program, and expresses the (probably vain) hope that high fuel cell costs will come down dramatically to permit widespread use.

Four paragraphs are devoted to hot fusion: They conclude by saying: "The technological advances experienced over the past decade and the advances yet to come will hopefully transform the energy sources of the distant future." Hope springs eternal.

One word that never appears in the report is "patent." As IE readers are painfully aware, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has set its official face against anything that can be construed (by establishment scientific critics) to be "cold fusion." Even the allegation that an application represents "cold fusion" has proven sufficient to block the patent. This has happened to Dr. Randell Mills of BlackLight Power (BLP), despite his vigorous protests that his hydrogen orbit shrinking technique has nothing whatever to do with fusing nuclei. BLP was awarded its blanket patent in February 2000, after four years of prosecution, but its next five applications relating to the actual hydride compounds were abruptly pulled back on the eve of issuance. BLP is currently in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals protesting PTO's arbitrary and unlawful denial.

It would be too much to expect that a new administration would endorse or even address in its energy policy such controversial and new energy techniques variously called cold fusion, magnetic power, zero point energy, aetheric power, or hydrino energy. Doing so would call down the wrath of orthodox science and the political influence of the government funded laboratories. Perhaps as the body of supportive data for new energy techniques accumulates there will be a corresponding rise in interest in the Bush Administration. Let us hope so.

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