Big Plans, Bad Ideas
Original article:

This is not to say that any biofuel development is bad. There is definitely a place for biofuel usage in post-Peak Oil planning. What politicians need to realize is that it is no panacea. No amount of biofuel production can compare to the energetic bounty embodied in fossil fuels. Any plan that aspires to replace fossil fuels for an equal amount of biofuels without making any other changes will be doomed to failure.
Other elements of any eventual renewable energy plan that are worthy of incorporation would be increased solar and wind power generation incentives and energy efficiency program funding. While the governor’s speech did not delve into much detail, such a strategy would probably be compatible with whatever Pataki ends up promoting.
Any energy plan that emerges from Albany will be of little use if it is ignorant of basic physics. Nor will it be able to confront the challenges of Peak Oil or natural gas depletion with only supply-side solutions without asking any thing on the demand side. Effective planning would examine both sides of the supply-demand equation. Politics however, has a way perverting good intentions. The best New Yorkers could hope for out of this process would be a plan that brings some additional supplies online while making more efficient use of what we already use everyday. Hardly a great solution, but better than the alternative: a New York State equivalent to 2005’s massive pork-barrel, Federal Energy Bill.
In the end, both California’s Strategic Growth Plan and New York’s Renewable Energy push are superb examples of conventional thought processes. They both seek to plan for a future based on past performances or solutions. Neither makes any attempt to step back and fundamentally question the foundation of those assumptions. Both plans remain blissfully ignorant of the underlying energetic situation. Whether this is a product of political expediency, aversion to making hard choices, or bureaucratic inertia, the inevitable result will be a waste of precious, remaining resources.
The states of New York and California (and countless other governments like them) need to wake up and begin to make meaningful, holistic energy plans that address all aspects of energy usage and conform the rest of their non-energy plans to fit within those parameters. If they fail to do this, any grand plan they do conceive of and follow will be for naught.