Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2006 State of the Union, same as every other year?

The Times reports that energy is the big theme this year:
President Bush will renew a call for the development of alternative fuel for automobiles and promote the construction of new nuclear power plants in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, White House officials said Monday.
Which is nice, but it isn't clear how this is anything truly new.


Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil.
Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home.…

Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car -- producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.

Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
What ever became of that?

Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run -- so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home -- including safe, clean nuclear energy. …And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology -- from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol.
Energy has been a good chunk of the speech every year. But like the mission to Mars, immigration reform and the bizarre obsession with steroids, no actual motion ever emerges. Are we supposed to get all excited about new nuclear power plants? I'm not anti-nuclear, but it's not something I'm excited about. A June 2005 ABC/WaPo poll (scroll down) found that 34% favored building new nuke plants, while 64% opposed. And no one wants that plant to be built near them.

Chris Mooney hears that Bush will try to make himself the Science President. Perhaps he got a memo from the Discovery Institute. Mooney says it well:

I'm glad that Bush is (apparently) planning on supporting more scientific research and better scientific education. Bravo. But the president is not exactly a credible messenger on matters of science, and this strategic repositioning does not do away with his vulnerability on the topic. Let us not forget that the president himself has misled the country about stem cell research and endorsed the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside evolution in high schools. The latter is especially troubling in that it undermines science education, which is an area where you'd think we'd want to be improving if we are to keep pace with other technologically advanced nations.
And the stem cell waffling is problematic because it sends a signal that scientific advancement is not valued.

The Hansen censorship also pretty much spikes any serious push on turning around the science standing of this administration for a little while.

HSAs are a loser of an issue, Congress will be spending all its time trying to pin corruption on someone else, and no one feels like they are free to do anything sensible with Iraq, even though getting out of Iraq tops the list of issues voters care about.

Discuss among yourselves: what will Bush talk about tonight? There's a pool on whether Iran comes up.