Green, Bush-Style ; FEATURE ++ FOSSIL FUEL ALTERNATIVES ++ after 9/11, George Bush Launched a Plan to Wean the US from Middle Eastern Oil. Ruth Brandon Reports

By Brandon, Ruth | The Independent (London, England), February 2, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Green, Bush-Style ; FEATURE ++ FOSSIL FUEL ALTERNATIVES ++ after 9/11, George Bush Launched a Plan to Wean the US from Middle Eastern Oil. Ruth Brandon Reports


Brandon, Ruth, The Independent (London, England)


As President George W Bush, the world's latest convert to belief in climate change, signed his recent executive order mandating an increased use of energy efficiency and renewable fuels throughout the federal government, an almost audible sigh of relief could be heard in one small corner of the US Department of Energy.

One of the more paradoxical results of the September 11 attacks was the creation of the FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program, part of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Set up to help free America from dependence on imported Middle Eastern oil, and tacitly acknowledging Big Oil's great unspoken - the rapidly approaching oil production peak - FreedomCAR is dedicated to all the stuff Bushies hate: the development of more energy-efficient vehicles, and of technologies that will help the transition to non- petroleum fuels. But it's a question of attitude. Don't think climate change: think Freedom Fries.

The programme has two arms, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, whose goal is to develop emission- and petroleum-free cars and light trucks along with the infrastructure to support them; and the 21st Century Truck Partnership, which aims to produce pollution-free freight and public transport.

The actual sums of money involved are modest: last year $182m ([pound]92m) was distributed among various research and development projects; this year, slightly less - $166m - will be up for grabs. And if you think that sounds like a lot, you need only remember that the Iraq war is costing $200m a day. Still, university research departments and small hi-tech businesses are always broke, and grateful for any help they can get.

FreedomCAR is not about the quick fix politicians pray for, that will let us all continue as before while using no oil and generating no carbon. Rather it's about developing good ideas that, taken together, will make a real difference to our ability to keep moving while preserving a habitable planet.

The sponsored projects are the kind of thing familiar from every roundup of green technologies. Thus, a top-of-rail lubrication system reduces friction, and thus fuel consumption, in trains A self- cleaning diesel particulate filter reduces nanoparticle emissions.

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