Friday, May 11, 2007

Overhaul at the Dept. of Energy needed

Watching the NewsHour on PBS last night there was an interview with Marty Hoffert (a physicist at New York University and advocate of alternative energy sources) in which he said

One thing which I believe could be very helpful in this country is to re-task the Department of Energy to have the job of developing alternative sources of carbon-neutral energy.

Many people think that's what the Energy Department is in business for already, but that's not the case. Their job is actually stockpile stewardship, to make sure the nuclear weapons and the pipeline really work, and toxic waste disposal. I think their job ought to be to develop a sustainable source of power for the United States and for the civilization of the world in general.
Hoffert hit the nail on the head here, I couldn’t agree more. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) total 2007 budget is about $24 billion. $16 billion (2/3rds) goes to nuclear weapons stewardship and toxic waste disposal. $3 billion (1/8) goes to energy resources and only $1.15 billion (5%) falls into the renewable energy category.

Anyone else think something is screwy here?

DOE has done some wonderful things with the money it gets, like the Energy Star program, unfortunately and despite its name, precious little is invested into finding/exploiting new energy sources.

For perspective the US discretionary budget (the amount Congress can spend excluding “entitlements”) last year was about $1 trillion, 2/3 of which is spent on the military and 1/3 on everything else.

If we can spend (waste) $100 billion for 6 months in Iraq, we can certainly invest an extra $10 billion over the next 6 years to radically diversify our countries energy portfolio so it includes a significantly higher portion of low carbon sources.


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