No one will doubt that the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law yesterday by President Bush, is sweeping in its scope and ambition. The bill will mandate an increase in the nation's fleet of vehicles to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020; it will phase out inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012; the bill requires that the nation use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022; and it pours billions of dollars into research and development of new alternative fuels. However, there are also short circuits in this energy bill: Huge government subsidies for the insanely profitable oil companies are continued, and likewise corn growers and ethanol producers won a bounty of federal money for a questionable renewable fuel. Is this bill a true path toward energy independence for the United States?
* Daniel Kammen, director of UC Berkeley's Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory; professor in the Energy and Resources Group at Cal Berkeley; also professor of nuclear engineering
* Bob Dinneen, president & CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association