Environment Technology

Environment Technology

Should finding the next source of energy to run the economy be the Federal Government’s job?

Posted by admin on April 21, 2013 in Clean Energy with 11 Comments


Obama talks a lot about Federal government getting involved in promoting "Clean Energy" or other kinds of energy. His administration seems to be actively involved in aiding companies that he believes represent path forward for the United States in terms of energy.

But I wonder how Obama or any single person has the wisdom to determine what the next big development is. I’m sure that in 1820 no one knew that in cars and gasoline were going to power the USA. I can imagine that if the Federal government had been involved in legislating future energy usage then the automobile may never have come to fruition. How does Obama know what the next technology or way forward will turn out to be?

In short, it seems to me that in getting the federal government involved in any direction, if he guesses wrong, he is actually hindering ideas that may be better.

I think the government has a reasonable role not in making an ultimate decision about what the future of energy will be, but of promoting a political environment in the 21st century as friendly to non-CO2-generating energy as the 20th century was to coal, petroleum, and (to a lesser extent) natural gas.

I think part of the way to ensure that the government is not just "picking winners" that may or may not be the best, most efficient, or otherwise most useful is to make all government support be in the form of things like cheap or free loans, reduction in taxes for target companies/industries, and easing or altering relevant regulations, rather than just handing the "winning" companies cash…

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  1. StuartApril 22, 2013 - 4:19 am #1

    corporations don’t like to spend money on research. it’s too risky.
    References :

  2. JamieApril 22, 2013 - 4:42 am #2

    no
    if a new source is out there the private sector will find it
    and run it allot better then say the government runs the postal system..
    References :

  3. ErikApril 22, 2013 - 5:11 am #3

    The government absolutely subsidized the fossil fuel industry.

    Promoting research and new technology is nothing new to the government.

    Wallstreet tends to be shortsited when it comes to planning for the future. If it doesn’t increase the bottom line one or two quarters out, they are less likely to invest in it.

    In fact, it’s not rare for companies to spend money to keep others from advancing on futuristic techonology if it replaces theirs.
    References :

  4. The PhasmidApril 22, 2013 - 5:47 am #4

    The federal government does nothing efficiently so how could they possibly be efficient at finding a new energy system.The government is efficient at regulating our everyday lives and that takes the energy out of most people.
    References :

  5. taurusheadApril 22, 2013 - 6:26 am #5

    No! And the government should not be subsidizing electric vehicles or new energy projects. Maybe make a prize to the person/company to accomplish certain energy producing project on their own.
    References :

  6. fdm215April 22, 2013 - 6:42 am #6

    Yet another person who knows little or nothing of history. The federal gov’t has LONG subsidized and encourage fledgling industry…in part because many don’t pay very well in the early going so private firms would not be interested in going it alone.
    References :

  7. LEOApril 22, 2013 - 7:23 am #7

    Fed is trying to make the best use of what we have now. I don’t think anyone should be using Edison bulbs and complain why do we import so much oil.
    References :

  8. Chem FlunkyApril 22, 2013 - 8:01 am #8

    I think the government has a reasonable role not in making an ultimate decision about what the future of energy will be, but of promoting a political environment in the 21st century as friendly to non-CO2-generating energy as the 20th century was to coal, petroleum, and (to a lesser extent) natural gas.

    I think part of the way to ensure that the government is not just "picking winners" that may or may not be the best, most efficient, or otherwise most useful is to make all government support be in the form of things like cheap or free loans, reduction in taxes for target companies/industries, and easing or altering relevant regulations, rather than just handing the "winning" companies cash…
    References :
    Please check out my open questions.

  9. Scott StevensonApril 22, 2013 - 8:32 am #9

    No. I’ve always like the quote from Jonas Salk, who developed the first polio vaccine:

    "If the US government was in charge of finding a cure for polio, we’d have the world’s best iron lung, but no vaccine".

    Having said that, basic research is long, hard, expensive work. I’d like the government to provide an incentive to get the auto makers away from oil, and into hydrogen fuel cells, which is where I think we need to go (you can produce the reactants from air and either sea water or natural gas, and the product is electricty and water vapor).

    Here’s my plan: Tell the auto makers that for every fuel cell car they sell in the US, we’ll give them $100,000, and they can then sell them for whatever they want. They could sell them at less than their cost, and still turn a profit. As more of them get made, the unit cost will go down, and the cars will get even cheaper. If they could sell 10% of their fleet as hydrogen cars, it would cost about $50 billion/year. They’d also be able to use the technology they develop to sell them in other countries.

    So that they’ve got somewhere to fill up, offer filling stations $1,000,000 each to put in hydrogen refueling stations. There are about 160,000 filling stations in the US. If 10% of them converted, you’d basically be able to drive a hydrogen car just about anywhere, and it would cost $16 billion for the whole country.

    So where does the money come from? Without a need for foreign oil (and at that 10% conversion rate, the need for foreign oil would dry up in five or six years), we have no need to have a military presence in the Arab world. We could cover our oil needs with domestic production, pull out of that part of the world and tell OPEC to go pound sand. As a bonus, it dries up the funding for Islamic terrorists.
    References :

  10. JennyApril 22, 2013 - 9:12 am #10

    Well Hob, that’s something I’ve also thought about but will answer with the following: No! And the government should not be subsidizing electric vehicles or new energy projects. Maybe make a prize to the person/company to accomplish certain energy producing I hope this answers your question.
    References :

  11. PaulieApril 22, 2013 - 9:47 am #11

    I better answer this question Hob before I pop out to work :( No! And the government should not be subsidizing electric vehicles or new energy projects. Maybe make a prize to the person/company to accomplish certain energy producing I hope this answers your question.
    References :

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