Friday, February 14, 2003
1. COLUMBIA: RICHARD FEYNMAN IS NOT ON THE INVESTIGATION BOARD.
The enduring image of Feynman dropping a piece of the Challenger O-ring into his glass of ice water is a reminder of how much things have changed. Missing from the 11-member Columbia Accident Investigation Board is independence. Appointed by NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, all eleven are no doubt capable men, but ten of the eleven are employees of the federal government. Three Air Force Generals are balanced by two Navy Admirals, one of whom is the Chairman. Of the three Board members drawn from NASA, one is responsible for the safety of all NASA programs, while another is NASA Chief Engineer, responsible for review and technical readiness of all NASA programs. The only PhD scientist is a physicist, James Hallock, from MIT, whose research was for NASA. Roger Tetrault, the only private citizen, is the retired CEO of McDermott International.
2. GREENHOUSE EXTORTION: HOW TO MANDATE "VOLUNTARY" REDUCTIONS.
To demonstrate that the White House plan to save the world
through voluntary reductions in greenhouse emissions is the way to go,
the administration pressured industry to announce specific goals for
reduction of greenhouse-gas "intensity," which is the ratio of emissions to production. The idea is that greenhouse-gas emission should not grow faster than the economy. In other words, its OK to pollute as long as you're making money. The White House plan was to go before the American People with Bush Administration officials arm in arm with industry leaders, pledging their commitment to "intensity" reductions. This was to take place on Wednesday; but with the economy tanking, few industries went along with it, in spite of the "intensity" gimmick.
So, what had been planned as a nationwide media blitz ended up as an
announcement in the DOE cafeteria.
3. FY-04 DOE BUDGET: "WE HAVE TO BE REALISTIC," DOMENICI SAYS.
The $1.2B over 5 years for the hydrogen program (WN
31 Jan 03) may not sound like the Apollo program, but the Chairman of the
Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Pete Domenici (R-NM), argues
that what's important is that President Bush is behind it, even if there's
not enough money to get the job done. As David Garman, assistant secretary
for energy, put it, the President's commitment is "priceless." The Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Division would get about $1M more in FY-04,
or an increase of 0.1%, with the efficiency side cut by $35M. We shouldn't
rush into this when Detroit is making money. The Clean Cities alternative
fuels vehicle program, the Rebuild America building conservation program
and the NICE3 industrial efficiency technology commercialization program
would be cut by a third. Science programs would be up 1.4% over the FY-03
request, but Basic Energy Sciences would be cut $10M.