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Your insane U.S. Energy Department

By Alan Caruba
web posted September 27, 2010

In mid-September, Cathy Zoi, an Assistant Secretary of Energy, said that the U.S. Department of Energy has a "mandate" to issue regulations about what household appliances should be available to Americans in the future.

Cathy ZoiA CNSnews story reported that while speaking at the inaugural meeting of the recently reestablished Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Ms. Zoi "pointed to four tactics the Obama administration intended to use to advance the 'deployment of clean energy.' The first three were government subsidies, special tax incentives, and low-interest government-backed loans for green energy projects."

The likelihood that any of these "green energy" projects will yield any electrical power comparable to a single coal-fired or nuclear plant is negligible. Two recent huge wastes of taxpayer money involve a $57 million program that includes $11 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the failed "stimulus" plan—to support clean energy technology commercialization projects for 33 small businesses across the country.

Among the projects is "harvesting/dewatering technology for algal biofuels", money devoted to algae as a source of power. Other projects include organic light-emitting diodes, and advanced materials and bio-fueled oxide fuel cells. Meanwhile, the moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico restricts the provision of an energy source on which the nation is dependent.

In September the DOE also awarded $37 million for "marine and hydrokinetic energy technology development." The object of this is to "accelerate the technologies and commercial readiness of technologies "to generate renewable electricity from the nation's oceans and free-flowing rivers and streams." Meanwhile the nation already generates six percent of its electricity from hydroelectric systems among which the Hoover Dam is one of the best known.

The Department of Energy was created in the wake of the oil crisis of the 1970s and was signed into existence by President Jimmy Carter on August 4, 1977. Its responsibilities were the nation's nuclear weapons program, a nuclear reactor for the U.S. Navy, energy conservation, energy-related research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production.

It currently employs 16,000 federal workers and, in 2009, had an annual budget of $24.1 billion. President Obama appointed Dr. Steven Chu as its Secretary. Dr. Chu is perhaps best known for recommending that global warming can be avoided by painting the roofs and highways white in order to reflect back the sun's radiation. Will someone please get a net and throw it over Dr. Chu?

One might think that the DOE would have taken an active role in the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but that responsibility was handed over to the U.S. Coast Guard while the Department of the Interior was a key player as well.

Meanwhile, over at the DOE, Ms. Zoi was gloating that the fourth tactic "which the Secretary and I love is where we have a mandate. Where we can actually just issue regulations and do market transformation."

Where is it written in the U.S. Constitution that the government should play an active role in "market transformation"? The DOE intends to "set efficiency standards for energy-consuming products."

These will include commercial clothes washers, small electric motors, water heaters, direct heating equipment and pool heaters, among the countless products consumers use on a daily basis.

Instead of encouraging the building of more coal-fired, natural gas, and nuclear plants to generate the electricity a population in excess of 300 million use daily, the DOE wants to get between consumers and manufacturers to "mandate" how much electricity products can use!

"We're going to make people save money for themselves," said Ms. Zoi.

I have a great idea how to save billions. Shut down the Department of Energy. ESR

Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2010

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