Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 25 May, 2001, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
US energy plan: Will it work?

US President George W Bush has unveiled his plan to tackle the country's growing energy crisis.

The new energy "action plan" encourages more oil exploration and greater use of coal and nuclear energy, while offering incentives for conservation and renewable energy sources.

Conservationists have attacked the plan for its reliance on inefficient and polluting energy sources.

It comes at a time when President Bush has already come under strong international criticism for his decision to scrap the Kyoto treaty.

Do you think President Bush's proposals will help to solve America's energy problems? Is there a balance to be found between fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

I'm a teacher, and Bush's plan smacks of what I like to call "rich kid's disease". To one who has rarely, if ever, had to suffer the consequences of his actions, such lack of foresight is only natural.
Janna, USA


The world, not just the US, should be working towards a hydrogen economy.

Kevin, UK
The world, not just the US, should be working towards a hydrogen economy. The hydrogen could be generated from clean nuclear reactors - no CO2 pollution, and no problem with waste despite what the greens tell us. The new generation of small reactors are inherently safe, and cannot meltdown - they are self-limiting. Renewables have their place where there is sufficient to make them economical - certainly not to any appreciable extent in the UK or similar cold northern climates. Try running a steel plant off a windmill!

The main consumable fuel for cars, heating etc should be hydrogen - absolutely no pollution. Save the oil to use as a raw material for petrochemicals etc. There is no way anyone will persuade the Americans to give up their high energy consumption way of life, so it will have to be substituted with a cleaner fuel.
Kevin, UK

What I haven't seen anywhere on this discussion is any of our American Bush-supporting friends coming up with a counter-argument. By all means call everyone else in the world a communist riddled by class envy, but at least tell us why CO2 isn't important, or what you're going to do when Florida disappears under water, or when fossil fuels run out. All the Bush apologists seem to think this is an anti-America issue. Wrong. It's an anti-moron, anti-selfishness issue from educated, well travelled people with knowledge of the world at large, who quite like trees, clean water and the coastlines we've got at the moment. Not people who will submerge several dozen south sea islands to help their dad's mate.
Martin Smith, UK

To consider an energy source that will remain deadly for 250,000 years, with no known safe means of storage, we must feel we are pretty important. While politicians make decisions based solely upon getting re-elected, the rest of us can look beyond that. We should see that under no circumstances is nuclear energy an option. The long-term costs are just too great.
Jubilee Lang, USA


There will be more technological change in the next 50 years than in all of previous human history

B. Campbell, USA
The United States, with Silicon Valley, Wall St, and its Nobel Prize-saturated research universities, is the economic engine of the world. It may contribute 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions - but it also produces 25% of the world's economic output. This same energy-eating juggernaut that elicits the hysterical fulminations of Europeans will likely be at the forefront of nations that develop long-term solutions to the "energy crisis" (ie fusion, solar, etc).

There will be more technological change in the next 50 years than in all of previous human history - a lasting solution to our energy woes will be one of those myriad changes, long before fossil fuels are exhausted.
B. Campbell, USA

Simple measures such as turning off air conditioning, and turning off/down heating when you leave the house makes ALL the difference. I think part of the problem is that the message has not been effectively put across that energy conservation saves you a ton of money, and doesn't need to alter your lifestyle one jot.
Ruth, USA (ex UK)

While most Americans naively look forward to the 2004 elections as an end to the national nightmare of the Bush regime seizing power in a coup d'etat, they and the world will be in for quite a surprise as the Republican Congress attempts to manipulate the US Constitution to keep Bush in power after 2004. The nightmare will not end in 2004, as Americans will witness the end of democracy in the USA.
RW, USA


There is no 'energy' crisis, just plain over-consumption

Sudeshna Castle, USA
What energy crisis? There is no 'energy' crisis, just plain over-consumption. If we insist on being so wasteful, impractical and on doing such silly things as using tumble dryers in the middle of a Texas summer, driving monstrous SUV's for ridiculously short trips and continue to design and build our cities in a way that forces people to drive everywhere while discouraging people from walking, cycling and using mass transit - then we have only ourselves and our short-sightedness to blame. The rest of the world manages just fine, and has a better quality of life as well.
Sudeshna Castle, Austin, TX, USA

I really do think that there should be strictly enforced rules, not only in the US but in all countries, that prevent people with large financial stakes in companies from holding political positions. Bush and Cheney offer one of the best reasons why such a position should be adopted. Politicians with investments in oil + gas = energy policies that benefit oil + gas companies. Politics should be as free as possible from such blatant commercial bias.
BS McIntosh, Sweden (ex-UK)

It'll work just fine for the oil companies and corporate interests in nuclear power, coal, and such other environmentally destructive stuff. If energy costs go too high, we'll rig up our own supply with 12 volt batteries, and if fuel gets too outrageous . . .well, I only live five miles from my job (I moved to get closer to it). I guess I can ride my bike, and just do my grocery shopping with the car. I'd need less than two gallons a week.
Morgan O'Conner, USA


We positively need alternative energy sources and he is a oil man

Kevin Duggan, USA
I wish I really knew the truth here. I am inclined to believe Bush negated the Kyoto treaty due to pressure from the oil companies. Where is a good source of information? Why does it seem so loose to interpretation? I think we are in for trouble in these years coming. Losing the seats in the UN is just a preview of coming attractions. See what happens in 4 years. Hopefully we will get rid of this goof. We positively need alternative energy sources and he is a oil man.
Kevin Duggan, USA

I think that it's about time that the developed world worked together to develop hydrogen power plants, based on the same technology that has seen car producers like BMW produce hydrogen fuel cell cars. These use common water that is broken down into its gas elements and the hydrogen used as fuel. This must be the answer to cleaner power, and a cleaner environment.
Peter Conaghan , London, UK

What Peter Conaghan is proposing is a great way to transform and store electrical energy as chemical energy. Hopefully it will enable hydrogen to become a clean replacement for petroleum. Unfortunately, by the laws of thermo-chemistry, splitting water to form hydrogen and oxygen will require more energy than is produced by reacting hydrogen and oxygen to form water. It is therefore impossible to generate energy via this method.
GH, UK


Bush's plan is an ok short-term solution

Shane, Kansas City, USA
Bush's plan is an ok short-term solution but at a cost to the environment, and our fossil fuels supplies. The conservation of energy, clean fossil fuel technology, and alternative energy sources are the only way for America and the world to grow in the future. What I fear the most is that we end up screwing the rest of the world over with our pollutants.
Shane, Kansas City, USA

The Bush plan will work. Under Clinton there was lots of talk about conservation but gas prices remained low ($1-$1.30/gallon here in California); also, electricity was cheap. At those low price levels there was no incentive to conserve. Now that the gas price has doubled ($2.20 right now and rising), electricity and natural gas have tripled, plus we have profit-hungry oil companies and power companies in the action... this is the best environment for alternative fuel and energy ideas to spread and start to make a profit. Thank you, President Bush!
George, USA

George W. Bush opines that CO2 is not a pollutant. As governor, he had an unenviable record of Texas being one of the most polluted U.S. states. With its oil, chemical and other atmosphere- and ground- polluting industries, perhaps his adage could have been: "Where there's muck, there's brass." Now, as president, it appears he is promoting this attitude nationwide. In a sort of "back to the future" flashback, we could once again envisage smog-filled cities such as Los Angeles, oil spills like the Exxon Valdez or even the highly toxic Love Canal in New York. A canary in the White House might be appropriate to monitor the need for gas masks.
Brian M., Quebec City, Canada.


Bush and Cheney have gotten lost in the 50's

Janet Windsor, Minneapolis, US
Bush and Cheney have gotten lost in the 50's and will not wake up to a new century. The true American outlook is to go into the future. To create something new out of a crisis - real or manufactured. I think we will have a renewable source of energy very soon. Just let Dubya keep talking about power plants and coal. Bush fuels his own end with his relentless talk of 50's energy production and moves the real future of renewable energy into the Whole World's Eye.
Janet Windsor, Minneapolis, Minnesota US

George Bush should remember 'what goes around comes around'. GWB's energy policy only adds to our deteriorating environment. But some states - especially Florida and other low-lying states - will be the worst affected. Ironic really, after the US election fiasco in Florida which put GWB in power.
Rod McEwen, UK

The purpose of the Bush energy initiative can be summed up in two words - control and profit. The idea of more oil exploration and greater use of coal and nuclear energy, while offering incentives for conservation and renewable energy sources, is as false as teaching petroleum is a "fossil" fuel. In fact as with other patterns in creation, petroleum is the lifeblood of the earth just as sap is the blood of a tree. The present danger is, by an ever-escalating drain of the earth's lifeblood, the vitality of all surface life on the planet is increasingly compromised and destabilised. The humanitarian scientist and discoverer of AC current, Nikoli Tesla proposed a system whereby all of humanity would have access to free energy. Now THIS would be a true paradigm shift in human progress. These hundred years belong to Tesla.
Kevin E. Abrams, Canada


The energy policy laid out by President Bush will solve the slight glitch in American energy pricing

Joseph Slovak, USA
The energy policy laid out by President Bush will solve the slight glitch in American energy pricing. It seems that many people are having problems putting America into scale. The United States has the largest landmass of any successful economy. Almost all of the US is habitable and accessible. The state I live in has one half the population and makes four times the GDP of France. It takes 6 hours by plane to fly from east to west, one week by train and two weeks by car. It takes just as long from north to south. Compare the energy used by the United States to that of all of the countries from Italy north to Poland and West to Portugal. Only then will one get a sense of the logistical scale. Within the United States there are oil and coal deposits than can fuel the US requirement for energy for centuries to come. Foreign oil is purchased because it is cheaper than US shale oil.

This being said, as a culture US citizens do need to learn lessons from European development. If we plan carefully now, the United States needn't end up polluted and without resources as Europe is. American oil need not go the way of Ireland's lush green forests or the fresh fish from the Rhine River.
Joseph Slovak, USA

There are a significant number of Americans who have never travelled abroad, who have been reared on the 1950's Cold War ideology that everything is the fault of Communism, and think that everything on this planet exists for their use and abuse! I lived for three years in Texas and until then it had never occurred to me that cities could have virtually no green spaces and be so soulless, depressing, ugly and segregated along racial and class lines! And I blame the car culture for this one, since cities there are built solely to drive through, and not to live in. There are few facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and those that want to use public transport. The fact that so many of these same cities suffer from total lack of quality of life, no sense of community, horrendous pollution and traffic chaos is of no surprise to me. And now the same people who designed these loathsome places want to dig up pristine, beautiful places like Alaska to pay for their short-sightedness and greed. I never envied the people living there, and was only too glad to escape at the first available opportunity.
Sue Castle, Oxford, England

OPEC and Saddam Hussein must be rubbing their hands with glee at the havoc they will be able to cause. If we have a shut down of oil supply like we did back in the early 70's, the USA would be in deep, deep trouble. Putting all your eggs in one basket will eventually lead to the destruction of the USA's supremacy.
Alex Banks, Wales, living in Holland

Bush seems to be more interested in the short-term gains. This is in keeping with his other decisions, that speaks volumes for his environmental consciousness. At the level that he is at, and the kind of influence on the world that he wields, his actions can do a lot of damage. He cannot just be dismissed as a more serious version of Dan Quayle. God, you may have to forgive this man too: he is not quite aware of what he is capable of doing.
Somnath Roy, India


To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we can only burn about a quarter of the remaining known reserves of fossil fuels

James, UK
Some people have talked about 'pseudo science' and asked for some facts about global warming - here are some. Naturally there's about 600 billion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere. We've added about 450 billion tonnes since the Industrial Revolution (based on the accounts of the fossil fuel industry). About half of this is still in the atmosphere, the rest has probably been absorbed in the sea. At the moment we add about another 6 billion tonnes per year, and we're likely to add about another 1500 billion tonnes over the next century, if we don't change our ways. So we're not talking about insignificant numbers. Will this affect the climate? Really it's hard to see how anyone can be sure that it won't. The best estimates are an increase of 1.5C to 3.5C for a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we can only burn about a quarter of the remaining known reserves of fossil fuels - exploring for more doesn't seem to be a great idea at the moment.
James, UK

Accelerating the use of fossil fuels will only bring forward the day when they run out. Surely anyone can see that? It's just a bluff by Bush to please his backers in the oil companies. Nobody can seriously expect the measures to pass Congress and Senate.
George, UK

It takes a manager politician to say to the industry that within 3 years all cars newly sold should conform to a low pollution standard. Impossible ? No, these cars already exist - cf most of the European cars or the new hybrid cars. Does such a decision damage the economy? I doubt it. The number of miles which we drive will remain the same even with a different car . The oil industry might suffer, but they have sufficient resources to start up alternative energy supplying companies. Thus Bush can still be funded by these companies . But therefore you need not a puppet politician but a manager.
Peter Bevers, Belgium


If there's one thing I absolutely don't mind using energy for it's household labour-saving devices

Suzanne, USA
If there's one thing I absolutely don't mind using energy for it's household labour-saving devices. As a married, working, mother of three my choice is to save time (my life) by using dryers, washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves and anything else that gets me off the housewife/maid timecard. That's the whole point of progress. Most of the energy crisis now is due to the technology and communications explosion. I don't see anyone suggesting we all give up our computers, phones, televisions, etc. I bet you don't plan on it. I conserve every way I can, but I'm not going back to 1920's housekeeping methods just so that there is plenty of energy for your CD player. Stop ranting only at Americans. Everyone all over the world is making daily personal choices on energy usage and a great majority involves activity that may not be deemed a necessity.
Suzanne, USA

I remember reading articles five years ago saying that California was heading for an energy shortage because no new plants were being built and, at the same time, the population was increasing rapidly. But these warnings were ignored by the populace, who think that electricity just magically appears at their wall outlets, and by politicians who saw no immediate political advantage to dealing with it then, before it became a problem. The radical environmentalists have been overly indulged in this state.

I'm all for alternative sources, but where are they? Solar is still way too expensive for most people. Unfortunately, we have a Governor here in California whose only interest is in getting re-elected by pretending to champion the plight of the energy consumer; but in the process, by making threats against the energy suppliers, he is probably scaring them away from making more capital investment in energy plants. Just what we need, to be scaring away energy suppliers in the middle of an energy shortage.
Paul White, California, USA


I've been amazed at severe lack of every-day conservation culture

Yevgeni, Moscow/Minneapolis,

On the one hand, I support the idea of increased use of nuclear plants. On the other hand, energy consumption at large is multi-faceted problem and therefore requires complex measures. I lived in the US for four years and all this time I've been amazed at severe lack of every-day conservation culture. I was raised in energy-rich country, nevertheless since childhood I knew that the fridge is the only machine to be left on when you leave a house. Another one: don't drive when you can walk. This type of simple rules apply to usage of gas, water, electricity. These rules must be taught to our kids now without waiting till we are forced to.
Yevgeni, Moscow/Minneapolis,

Having irresponsibly used up much of the oil in Texas, and polluted much of the world in the process, just for the profit of a few US oil companies, Bush now wants to use up the oil in the rest of the world as well. The new Russian states, the Middle East etc. should hike up the prices to the Bush administration to preserve their reserves for the future generations on this earth and save the quality of the world's environment from them. We need to force Bush to make energy from solar and wind power sources.
Jenny W, UK

There is only one more thing to say: they wanted him, now they got him and have to live with him. It was clear that a mediocre man like Bush would be the puppet of industry and commerce and the tendencies of industry and commerce are always totally capitalist. No surprises there!
Jonathan McAndrew, Zimbabwe

Fasten your seat belts. If there is indeed a point at which the earth's atmosphere will no longer act like a buffer for the greenhouse gases man is pumping into it, we're in for a rough ride. More extreme weather events will surely come charging around the bend at us - the severity of which we may not even have witnessed yet, in our recorded history. Can our urban/suburban infrastructures handle such an onslaught of the elements? With Americans already contributing 25% of the CO2 being thus dumped into the global blanket of air, George W. Bush's plan is to make this number even higher. He very well could be the American President that brings about the end of world civilisation as we presently know it.
Alan Hanscom, Salem, Mass., USA

Energy problems are not resolved by governments - this is a matter of personal responsibility: we are all free to choose how much energy we consume. To blame Bush for our bad habits is simply wrong.
Simon, USA

Europeans always want to gripe about how selfish we Americans are. That is at least in part true. However, I don't think they see the wider picture. I've lived in Oklahoma my entire life. I do drive a fuel efficient car, but I'm probably in the minority. Anywhere I park, nine times out of ten I have to take my chance backing out because I can't see over the top of some Chevy pickup or some Yuppie's SUV. That's a big problem. But beyond that, you just are not supposed to walk places in this state.

Until I visited other countries and other areas of the U.S. where they had decent public transportation, I didn't realize there was any other way to do things. And that's the real trick, this place isn't designed for people to walk in. In other words, its not a problem that can be solved by people getting smaller cars or taking the bus. There isn't a bus, except in a very limited fashion. What we have over here is a very fundamental design issue that goes to the very core of things. The only way I know to solve it is to spend about a billion dollars on a rail system that could take people easily from OKC to the rest of the state, and around here there is zero political impetus to try something like that.
David Bright, USA

It seems that people in the main are far from convinced that humans are actually doing anything so wrong. A few years ago I seem to remember that all the talk of global warming and environmental disaster was being put forward as being so much "hot air". Further, that our impact on the planet was pretty measly compared to natural phenomena. Surely for people to be really convinced, we need some very hard facts and Mr. Bush knows this as do all the people who support him. So if the U.S. is going to be labelled as the "Big Baddy", please let's have some irrefutable evidence.
John Webster, UK

The reason this plan is sparking such a global outcry is because it contributes to America's insatiable demand for energy and wasteful ways, which are having a devastating effect on the rest of the world. Your pollution is harming people's health, destroying the environment, and contributing to a future in which several countries could disappear under rising water levels. If this energy plan goes ahead, the low lying countries of the world should bond together and sue the US government for threatening their very existence and for being the planet's biggest super-polluter.
Chanti Teo, Hong Kong

The new Bush energy plan is an anachronism that belongs back in the 1950s. This should come as no surprise to anyone, since the whole administration is bought and paid for by corporate America's oil companies. It will be interesting to see how the mainstream American media will cover this sham.
Kari Samuelsson, Denmark


We Americans love to waste energy

Nelson, USA
We Americans love to waste energy. Bush is an oilman responding to all those Americans driving Sports Utility Vehicles which waste fuel. We don't seem to ever learn, or care, about fuel conservation.
Nelson, USA

Nuclear fuel is the answer, take a look at France about 70% of their power is nuclear and their co2 emissions aren't anything like the US.
Philip M, Ireland

I think the UK and the rest of Europe should stop blasting the USA at every turn. I have never seen so much anti-Americanism in my life. Bush is doing the right thing, and most of the people here know he is. Most of the rhetoric that I am hearing smacks of class envy, communism, and jealously towards Americans.
Chris Campbell, USA

I think it's time for the rest of the world to pull together on this one and condemn the US for its very blinkered approach. Let the US citizens pay the same as we do in the UK for petrol, then they'll have something to moan about.
Bill, UK


What Bush and Cheney are unleashing is an insult to every American

Phil, USA
Unfortunately our appointed "president" is a master of that old adage, "a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth". Conservation AND more Research and Development into renewables are key to a sound, responsible and courageous energy policy. What Bush and Cheney are unleashing on the American public and world at large today is an insult to every American, and an arrogant thumbing of the nose to the rest of the world that must breathe our polluted air and bask in our warming globe. The Cheney-Bush motives are transparent, as their cronies in the oil and gas and power industries surely will benefit.
Phil, USA

What I can't understand is why such a large country like America thinks that it can keep using as much fossil fuels as it wants, without realising that one day there won't be any more. This should have been addressed decades ago and provisions put in place, but instead it was just ignored. Bad luck, shows you can't have your cake and eat it.
Sarah, UK

I always find the European slant amusing. The constant blathering about "US energy excess" is silly. The US is the most productive country on the planet, it's huge, and its government doesn't tax the hell out of energy. The current state of affairs can be blamed on the wacky environmental left. They virtually stopped all new construction of power plants for one reason or another. So, instead of lambasting the new Bush administration, take aim at the pseudo science of Al Gore and Kyoto.
Charles, US


Nuclear power is all our business

David H, Canada
The amazing point here is that there is no shortage of fuel. California has problems because they have a market for power and when the demand is high, so is the price. No other state has the same problems because no other state has the same, stupid, market system for power. Gasoline is expensive because oil is sold by cartels - they work to keep the prices high. We have excess power here in Canada that we sell to the US. It is clean, hydro power. But Bush and Cheney are oil men so of course they have their friends to look after. And what better way to get public support for oil men's greed than to say the nation's lights are about to go out. If the US buys in to that - and the resurrection of nuclear power - there is something wrong with them.

I know the US thinks it is their business only, but nuclear power is all our business. I moved from the North of England after an atom plant in the Ukraine went pop. Imagine how many of those we run the risk of seeing if Cheney builds his 1300 new plants... yikes!
David H, Canada

As an American I am ashamed of both Bush and his energy plan.
John Jackson, USA

We in the US have just had 8 years of "saying the right things" but doing nothing other than closing off areas to oil drilling and exploration. At least Bush is setting forth a plan, rather than just putting out platitudes to please a voting block. Some "responsible Democrats" are suggesting that by subsidising the price to consumers and capping the wholesale price of energy, we will solve the problem. Worse even than platitudes, this is the true criminality in politics. Democrats now propose solutions that are not even remotely feasible, but are populist enough- sounding to garner you votes. Aren't these the same Democrats that want more taxes, and a higher price on petrol, in order to discourage use of your car?
Rob Reinhardt, USA


Get off of Bush's back and do something about it yourself

John, USA
At least Bush's energy plan is one based on reality. The same yuppies that preach about environmental responsibility and "clean energy" are driving around American cities in SUV's that make them appear to like the outdoors. These same people that are so quick to criticise Bush and fossil fuels are certainly slow to change their own lifestyles. Government policy is beside the point. If people want to change the way we as a society consume and generate power, then people have to change their own lifestyles. It's not the government's job to regulate our laziness. So get off of Bush's back and do something about it yourself. And by the way at least President Bush is doing something about it. We wouldn't have these appalling energy shortages and problems if the previous administration had had the nerve to tackle a real issue instead of headlines.
John, USA

Americans need an attitude change towards power usage rather than a policy change towards generating it.
Dave W, UK

It may work. It will certainly work for the energy companies and oil companies. There are other ways to solve the problem without digging up Alaska and building so many new nuclear and gas power stations. The emphasis of the plan should focus much more on the environment. As the population grows the requirement for power grows and supplies dwindle. Renewable energy needs more research and that should be done NOW not when it is the only choice left and vast areas of the country are left a wasteland.
Rachel , Brit in USA


Sadly, Bush isn't looking further than his own nose

Rhys Williams, Wales
Sadly, Bush isn't looking further than his own nose. What frightens me is, nobody has the power to stop him and he won't listen either. What will he think of next???
Rhys Williams, Wales

Talk of Bush 'offering incentives for conservation and renewable energy sources' does not sit comfortably alongside his administration's recent halving of research funding for renewable energy, from around $80m to approx $40m. Even $80m is a tiny amount in the context of the US budget, and money is being wasted on the `son of star wars' missile defence project. I believe the investment, jobs, technology and cost savings created by a push towards efficient energy use would balance much or all of the costs to the US economy of cleaning up its act.
Andrew, UK

Now you understand why the last presidential election was so hard fought... we knew something like this was coming. Don't assume we aren't aware of how the government is diving headfirst into corporate pockets...but that's nothing new. On the other hand, many Americans don't realise that $2/gal. gasoline is just about the cheapest in the world. Which is probably why gas guzzling SUVs -some of which require 48 gallons to fill- are the hottest vehicles on the US auto market right now. I'm an American and I'm just going to have to say it: Most Americans...are stupid, with no real idea what's going on in the world outside of immediate US concerns. We're selfish, self-centred, and focused entirely on self-gratification.
Barb, USA

If the US had put as much into developing renewable energy sources as it has into deliberately sabotaging all attempts to make progress on the environment, it would have been the world leader in renewable energy 30 years ago. For such a supposedly technically advanced country to be so dependent on fossil fuels, supplies of which are scarce and finite, is an absolute disgrace.
Martyn, UK


What this policy is actually revealing is how similar Democrats and Republicans actually are

David Stockman, Australia
Is anyone really surprised by Bush's announcement, we all knew what to expect when the Republican's came to office. But the real question is, how different are Bush's policies, to Clinton's? The Democrats had the same policy on greenhouse gas emissions, the same policy on arsenic in drinking water, and how different is the energy policy? What this policy is actually revealing is how similar Democrats and Republicans actually are. The only difference is that the Republicans are more honest about who they actually are and who they represent.
David Stockman, Australia

To Robert, USA: Europe stretches from the edges of the northern polar regions to the coast of Africa. We have a wide climate range among our member states. However, if he goes to any of the regions that have these extremes of temperature he would find that buildings are constructed of appropriate materials to mitigate against these extremes. In southern Europe, for example, the stone houses are wonderfully cool even in 40C summer heat. In comparison the wooden houses that they insist on building in the US become ovens before the temperature hits 25C. Energy conservation is not just about using the "AC" less but by using construction methods appropriate to the area in which you live!
Dave Whyte, UK

When I have visited the States on holiday, I am always horrified at the way in which so much energy is wasted. For example, I was staying at a house in New Jersey. Outside it was over 30 degrees and yet when we wanted to dry our clothes, we found there was no washing line to be seen in the garden and the host's immediate reaction was: put it all in the tumble (which was a mammoth, electricity-guzzling machine). Here in the UK, my mother never thinks of using the tumble drier unless it's pouring outside and mainly because it costs so much to run. Don't Americans realise that there are also economic benefits to conserving energy?
Lisa, UK

I think it is terrible, that the politicians of this country are more interested in making short term quick fixes to a problem instead of tackling the real issues. My feeling is they do this so their friends in the energy industry can line their pockets with the hard-earned money of the American people. My respect for George Bush (both Sr and Jr) has plummeted even lower than it was before. It is ridiculous to believe that there will always be another mountain range to cross and find additional fossil fuels. It is time that we find clean renewable sources of energy and practice conservation.
Kim, USA

We should not be surprised at this lamentable policy from Dubya Bush. This is the very worst type of old world thinking, and it's a frightening prospect indeed. Conserving energy is not difficult, and doesn't have to drastically reduce the quality of life. How dare Americans complain about the price of petrol (at 40% of the UK price) when they mostly drive around 4.0 litre V8 tanks on wheels!
Alastair Stevens, Bristol UK

Of course Bush's energy plans will work. The only people who can possibly object are the Greens. Greens believe in a bizarre mix of pseudo-science and quasi-religious superstition. Green hegemony in politics and the media has held back human progress over the past three decades. At last, in George W, we have a President prepared to stand up to them.
David, UK

I am in shock that Americans cannot see what this means for their life in the not too distant future. Why do they all need 3-5 litre cars. Have none of the people in government heard of conservation and more efficient appliances. I am not a Green and agree that for the moment fossil fuels are going to stay, but if we looked at making all our appliances/cars use less then the amount produced now should be enough. I think at the same time more money should go into research for renewable resources, because we all know fossil fuels are going to run out.
Elly, UK

Yet another example of 'President' Bush taking decisions that affect the rest of the world on the basis of short term objectives, rather than the 'greater good'. If it wasn't so serious for the rest of the world, I would be inclined to say that America has got what it deserves in Mr Bush.
Jonathan, UK

There is a naive assumption that if renewable energy could provide all the energy we need, it would have entirely replaced fossil fuels by now. The lobbying of oil companies and their refusal to commit to any serious investment in renewables has prevented this from happening. Given how much energy can already be produced from solar and wind, it is perfectly clear that they can provide for our energy needs - even America's! But sensible conservation of energy is also needed.
Paul R, Wales


The energy crisis isn't so much the Government's responsibility to solve but the duty of Americans to conserve

Martin, California, USA
Having been one of hundreds of thousands of Californians who experienced the "rolling-blackouts", I can tell you that the energy crisis isn't so much the Government's responsibility to solve but the duty of Americans to conserve. Just yesterday, I got home from work only to discover that I left my TV, alarm radio, and restroom light on - and I was only away for about 14 hours. I usually don't return until the next day. Yes, I know I'm part of the problem but so is everyone else who complains and does nothing about it. Shame on us, and shame on me for forgetting to turn off my alarm again.
Martin, California, USA

It's a pity that we do not live a thousand years, just to see what the world will be like then. No coal and no oil. Fusion may work, renewables may work. But what if they cannot satisfy our requirements? In a few generations time we will have scarred and polluted the world in order to get and use fossil fuels and we may still be in the same condition. Too many people, wanting too many resources.
Andrew Torrance, Wales, UK

This is not a problem just for America, but for the whole world. How are we supposed to turn to the developing countries of the world and tell them that they should reduce their pollution output, when the richest country in the world will not. America already consumes over a quarter of the world's energy output. This action sets an appalling example to the rest of the world, very much a case of "do as we say, not as we do".
David, UK

I believe that a balance with our environment can be struck if those in Washington, particularly those from fossil fuel backgrounds occupying positions of political power, can lift their heads above the haze they have created, and are again proposing, to see beyond the short term and into the long term. One would hope that men and women, of supposedly great stature, would have even a modicum of vision greater than themselves.
Shawn, USA

I live in Los Angeles. I also live in the Dept of Water and Power territory that doesn't have to worry like other parts of the city under So.Cal. Edison where they just had a rate increase of 20 to 70%. As a matter of fact, I started using more energy efficient appliances around the house and saw my last bill drop 40%. I have watched my area in So.Cal. grow, but I guess that the powers that be didn't plan for more power for the masses. It is interesting that as soon as Bush Jr came in, natural gas and car fuel went sky high even for Americans to understand how various energy industries started making a hugh profit in such a short amount of time just this year. How PG&E could file for bankruptcy after paying millions to their executives. And get away with it. Nobody is investigating anything and we the people have to accept it.
Russ Black, Los Angeles, CA, USA


That's the price that we have to pay for his career

Michael, California, USA
Everyone knows that Bush is paying off his political debts. Never mind the environment. Never mind the inflated energy costs. Never mind the resulting bankruptcies. That's the price that we have to pay for his career.
Michael, California, USA

Why doesn't Bush ask Las Vegas to dim some of their lights?
Irene Malchaski, USA

The US has made great strides in recent years to become more "green" so the expanded use of coal and drilling the Alaskan refuges should not be the answer. However, I am sure if Europe had the climate extremes that many of us do in the US, then their energy consumption would be higher. Also, it is a fact that Australia leads the world in the emission of "greenhouse gases" per capita topping the US and Canadian output by 25%.
Robert, USA


Of course the energy policy will work

Richard T. Ketchum, USA
Of course the energy policy will work. It is much better than destroying our economy by insisting on uneconomic sources of energy that don't deliver what they promise.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

If the same amount of money that is being invested in oil and coal exploration, and building nuclear power plants, was put into renewable energy sources, the problem would be solved on a long-term basis, and we would all breathe easier for it. Some hope!
Rachel Freeman, USA

The crisis has arisen because of price-fixing agreements - the oil and gas industries have put up their prices and the electricity generators are not allowed to put up theirs to match, meaning they are forced to lose money unless they shut down. Capacity is an irrelevance. It is the US Government itself causing the problem, trying to maintain artificially low prices. They are either going to have to stop subsidising consumers, or watch the electricity industry head for bankruptcy. Not too hard a choice even for Mr Bush.
Julian Hayward, UK


It seems to me that the only practical and cleaner alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear fuel

Greg, UK
The problem is that "renewable" sources of power such as solar and wind do not have the energy density to produce enough energy to efficiently satisfy industrialised countries growing demand for energy. The technology behind harnessing the wind and sun is fairly simple, so if these were practical alternatives to fossil fuels then they would be generating all the power we need today. I hope I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the only practical and cleaner alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear fuel.
Greg, UK

I thought that the issue in California (or part of it) was that the existing power stations couldn't supply electricity cheaply enough to be competitive. Exploring in Alaska for more oil won't help that situation. Furthermore, building new power stations that don't run on sustainable sources is a very short-term view. Is this how the current US government can consider a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut? Sounds like a wasted opportunity and doesn't offer encouragement to the countries who really hurt switching to renewable energy sources.
Christopher Laird, Japan

A few years ago there was a big push for solar energy, which no longer has much of a presence here. It seems to me that rather than looking at better, long term alternatives, GWB is trying to fix something quickly and that necessarily isn't the best solution for the planet. It is interesting though that in the eight years of the Clinton/ Gore Administration not much was made of an energy crisis. This is yet another problem that the Democrats made a low priority and we will all end up paying for it.
Di Stewart, USA


There is no provision for energy conservation

Matt L, France (ex-pat Brit)
Bush's environmental "programme" seems to be dig up the rich environments of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and continue the USA on the destructive path it, as well as the rest of the world, has been on for many, many years. There is no provision for energy conservation, no attempts to diminish the American love-affair with gas-guzzling vehicles and no sensible, long term plans which can sustain development for the foreseeable future.
Matt L, France (ex-pat Brit)

Why isn't the Bush administration encouraging the conservation of energy? Because increased reliance on coal and the extraction of oil from Alaska is good for the Republican Party's big-business fossil-fuel allies. These are evil men who care more for their private network of wealth than for what is good for the common people and the planet.
Robert Fleming, USA

There are a lot of hysterical doomsday nutters who will be screaming that the end of the world is nigh. Bush's proposals will at least keep the lights burning. I think it just shows his lack of tact that he didn't try to sink more cash into researching/ developing sustainable energies and persuading his countrymen to consume less energy and stop driving those 5.0 litre pick-up trucks to the mall.
George, UK

So Bush has proposed building loads more fossil fuel burning power stations and wants to open up the Alaskan wildlife sanctuary for drilling to accommodate America's thirst for energy. Surely money would be better spent in making appliances/ cars etc more energy efficient and educating the American populous in effective energy management (turn lights off when not needed etc). Unfortunately, I get the impression that most of the citizens of the USA see it as a fundamental right to use as much as they feel is necessary and sod the impact on the rest of the planet.
Al Shaw, Manchester UK

Whilst every other country in the world is looking forwards at advanced renewable energy technologies and phasing out coal and nuclear, America seems to be heading backwards. This does not bode well for the future of the American economy.
James, UK


A fair percentage of the US population seems to expect that an unlimited supply of cheap energy is a right they are born to

Robin, UK
The 'energy' problem in the US isn't one of lack of supply. It is that a fair percentage of the US population seems to expect that an unlimited supply of cheap energy is a right they are born to. This applies to petrol for cars, and electrical power for homes and businesses. The laws of supply and demand should be allowed to govern the costs of energy in the US. Let petrol and electricity prices rocket. The people might start thinking before they keep their house air-conditioned at 20C with 35C outside, and leaving the windows open. I lived in Texas for a year and the waste of energy appalled me.
Robin, UK

This beggars belief. I know that America has got energy problems at the moment, but what an appalling way to address them.
Rodger Edwards, UK

Never has one Administration been quite so beholden to a set of vested interests than this one. Several key positions are now held by people in the pocketers of the Coal, Oil, Automotive and Nuclear Industries. Wake up America - your Corporations have taken over your government and aren't exactly operating in the public interests are they? Especially over the longer term. When will you realise this, just because a private company is great at making profits doesn't mean that its operations are in your best interests. And no I'm not a ultra green but I do want to be able to look my children in the eye and say that not all of my generation were greedy, short-termists, beholden to Big Business. How many on the American Right could do likewise?
Neil, UK


The White House wants to go back in time and depend on fossil fuels that pollute the environment and generally serve to pad the balance sheets of coal and oil producing companies

Faye, USA
President Bush's energy strategies are designed to keep up with the United States' current energy consumption. Instead of encouraging conservation and fuel efficiency, which are more effective and economical ways to deal with increased energy demands, the White House wants to go back in time and depend on fossil fuels that pollute the environment and generally serve to pad the balance sheets of coal and oil producing companies.

To Gerry from Scotland, I would reply that most Americans (myself included) did think before they voted. The law of the land put the wrong guy in office. When we are presented with Bush's archaic, nepotistic, pocket-lining, not to mention environmentally unfriendly energy strategies, it only serves to make us angrier than we are already. For me, four years can't pass soon enough.
Faye, USA

It's a reasonable idea for the short-term future, but Bush should be looking at more longer term solutions, in particular more natural sources such as solar power and wind power
Jeff Scholey, UK

This borders upon criminal irresponsibility and epitomises the think now, forget tomorrow attitude of the present incumbent of the White House. For all of our sakes America, think before you vote next time.
Gerry, Scotland

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

17 May 01 | Business
Bush tackles energy 'neglect'
30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
26 Apr 01 | Americas
US debates nuclear expansion


Links to more Talking Point stories