Arnold Kling  

Wesley Mouch Award

Confucius and Cato... Suits vs. Geeks Watch...

Biofuels digest reports,

In Washington, the US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, broke with Obama administration renewable energy policy, telling stunned alternative energy developers at a recent meeting on alternative fuels that "if it were up to me, I would put every cent into electric cars," according to a source present at the meeting.

Unfortunately, he means every cent of our money, not his. Sebastian Blanco writes,

the DOE is in charge of some big things and, this year, it has handed out billions in loan guarantees for plug-in vehicles, including money for Ford ($5.9 billion), Nissan ($1.6 billion), Tesla Motors ($465 million) and Fisker ($528 million).

Forget a carbon tax. Forget cap and trade. Steven Chu is going straight to picking winners and losers.

An energy department spokesman issued a quasi-denial of Chu's quote. But his actions speak for themselves.

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
David writes:

Is Steve Chu the American Lysenko?

David writes:

From Chemical and Engineering News, 11/10/2008:

“Nearly a decade ago, [Robert] Fri oversaw a National Research Council study that examined 25 years of DOE-funded R&D. It found that 75% of the research returns on investments from energy R&D projects could be traced to three projects that took up a mere 0.03% of the overall R&D spending. In addition, the study found that half the overall investments generated no returns.”

CJ Smith writes:

What I fail to understand is how focusing 100% of funding for alternative energy source research into electric car research and development even addresses the problem of finding alternative energy sources in any substantive manner.

How is most electricity generated? By electric companies using coal and gas generators, right? While there may be some minimal incremental benefits in terms of economies of scale and reductions in energy transmission power loss/efficiency, all changing cars from gas to electric does is centralize the the energy issues from individual gas and oil consumers into electric companies - it does nothing to address discovering or creating alternative energy sources to replace the fixed and dwindling coal and oil resources.

Silly politicians...

Dan Weber writes:

Finding out that 0.03% of R&D spending gives 75% of the result isn't disturbing, in and of itself. My mutual fund might invest in ten losers and one winner, but if that winner goes up 20-fold it's all good. It's the results that matter.

David writes:

To Dan Weber:

Your mutual fund isn't betting taxpayers' $$ when it rolls the dice!

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