Nice of President Bush to look after his buddies in the oil patch in today’s State of the Union address, opening up more wilderness to oil exploration and lifting the crude price by nearly 5 per cent even while proposing to cut gasoline consumption by 20 per cent in 10 years.

And the farmers and ethanol industry were taken care of too as 15 of those 20 percentage points are supposed to come from ethanol and biodiesel.

Yep, Detroit’s inefficient makers of inefficient trucks are also being looked after with a target of only a 5 per cent improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency.

“Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean,” read the excerpts from his prepared text, which the President delivered as Crikey went to press.

Thus Bush picks up where he left off last year by stressing “energy security” on the home front ’cause sure as hell you just can’t trust none of them thar towel heads.

“For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments … raise the price of oil … and do great harm to our economy. It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply — and the way forward is through technology.”

The oil price was boosted by Bush doubling the size of the US strategic reserve, meaning the US government is going to start buying an extra 100,000 barrels of oil a day until it has 1.5 billion barrels sitting around doing nothing.

The ethanol push has already boosted corn prices and is not without critics, as marketwatch.com reports. To make ethanol really work, new technology is required to get cellulosic ethanol up to speed i.e. ethanol from grass, wood, corn stalks and just about any old rubbish. It’s still coming.

It’s also suggested Bush wants utilities to develop a portfolio of renewable energy generation assets, but of course the President will be long gone before any of this begins to count.

Has President Bush done something serious on the greenhouse front that will be followed by John Howard? Not really, but it doesn’t matter. The next US president, whoever it might be, will.

Peter Fray

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