ambivalent imbroglio home

« That Hydrogen Thing | Main | High Cost of Law School »

January 30, 2003

Hydrogen and SOTU II

James Ridgeway's recap of the SOTU address includes a dismissal of what sounded like a good program to encourage Detroit to get hydrogen-fueled cars on the market. Ridgway writes:

aniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program, had this to say about the present plan for government funding of the supposedly magic hydrogen fuel-cell car:

The program "funnels millions to Detroit without requiring that they produce a single fuel-cell vehicle for the public to purchase. The auto industry is using the promise of future fuel cells as a shield against using existing technology to dramatically cut our oil dependence, and pollution, today. This technology is sitting on the shelf while Detroit dithers. Honda and Toyota are producing hybrid vehicles today, the big three are not.

"The biggest single step we can take to curb global warming and cut our dependence on oil is to make our cars and light trucks go farther on a gallon of gas," Becker continued. "If the vehicles on the road today averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would save over 3 million barrels of oil a day, more than we currently import from the Persian Gulf."

So, ok, but if the hydrogen proposal is a big screen for a corporate giveaway, was there anything even remotely laudable (or believable) in Bush's big speech?

The Institute for Public Accuracy has compiled a lengthy deconstruction of Bush's speech which suggests that the answer to that question is "not really." The IPA asked a number of experts in different fields to give their opinions of many of Bush's claims, and those experts question or completely debunk nearly everything Bush said. As for the plan to help victims of HIV/AIDS, Raj Patel , policy analyst at Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, and a visiting fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, claims that it is basically another corporate giveaway—this time to the pharmaceutical industry:

“This policy is disingenuous to its core. Under existing World Trade Organization legislation, countries can already ‘compulsorily license’ drugs, waiving the patent protection of pharmaceutical companies in the interests of public health. It is, in fact, U.S. sponsored legislation at the World Trade Organization that prevents those countries in the third world which lack the production capacities to produce generic retroviral drugs from importing them from other countries . This compassion for the third world doesn’t pan out either. In December, the United States was alone among members of the World Trade Organization in its opposition to an expanded list of diseases which waives reimportation rules . What looks like a moment of heartfelt generosity on the part of the Bush regime is, in fact, a hard-nosed recognition that pharmaceutical companies around the world aren’t winning the PR battle to justify their monopolies. To put it more simply, this is a $15 billion subsidy to the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, in lieu of political battles lost at the WTO by U.S. negotiators. It remains to be seen quite how much of this new-found largesse will go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which last year was on the verge of bankruptcy .”

The IPA's analysis of Bush's SOTU address contains many terrific links to back up its analysis, and is definitely worth a look (and perhaps a bookmark for future reference, since we'll probably be hearing much more about many of these issues in the coming months).

UPDATE: See also An Annotated Overview of the Foreign Policy Segments of President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address by Stephen Zunes.

Posted January 30, 2003 06:27 PM | general politics

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.