The energy speech

Professor O’Hare doesn’t like Mr. Bush’s term paper.

Mike O’Hare of the Goldman School gives the Prez an A for style and an F for substance. He wants to know whether the Bushites understand (1) the difference between an energy-storage medium and an energy source and (2) the slope of a demand curve.

In the disconnected string of hopes and opinions that passes for a “major policy address” these days, the president yesterday rearticulated what the White House is calling an energy policy.

The fundamental question was, rhetorically, do we want to continue to grow more dependent on other nations for energy supplies? (Of course we don’t). The thematic language was to increase domestic “production” and decrease consumption. And the tool of choice was technology.

At that soundbite level, it was a fine speech. As it unfolded, however, it was almost entirely an inconsistent and flatly misleading mishmash of wishful thinking and deceptions.

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Update The net energy balance of ethanol remains a controversial question and I shouldn’t have been so flatfooted. The most recent studies range from a 34% gain in ethanol energy over the energy in its inputs(Shapouri et al 2002 to an 85% loss. I think the more pessimistic study (Patzek,

2005) is substantially more sophisticated and its methodology more thermodynamically realistic.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com