Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Want To Break Free

So, rather a long break here, but I've been alternately busy and lethargic, sometimes both at the same time. No excuse for bashing out a column for the 'zinesters before updating me own site, but I've been cruising for inspiration.

Then, through the email I get the following from the American Jewish Congress. I'm on their list for reasons best known to themselves, although their missives are relatively infrequent. It's not on their website yet, but I'll paste it below:

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Wednesday on HR 2730, the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act. Because the bill will be considered as part of the House’s “unanimous consent calendar” the bill is expected to pass by a wide margin. Highlighted by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his recent speech to a joint session of Congress, the Act was an outgrowth of proposals for helping solve the energy crisis, first raised by the American Jewish Congress (“AJCongress”) at a 2003 conference it held in cooperation with the governments of the U.S. and Israel. The Act finds that revenues from the sale of oil “directly or indirectly provide funding for terrorism” and “that it is in the highest national security interests of the United States to ensure secure access to reliable energy sources.” To address these issues, the Act establishes a program of grants for joint U.S.-Israel programs for research, development, or commercialization of alternative energy, improved energy efficiency, or renewable energy sources. Key to House passage was the effort of the bill’s sponsors, Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) and their staffs. The bill was sponsored in the House by a bipartisan group of 100 Members Congress led by Shadegg and Sherman.

It's largely a sidenote to the current bloodshed in Lebanon, but it's another example of how the idea of US energy independence can be sliced in a variety of interesting ways. For corn growers in the midwest, energy independence means extra subsidies for corn-based ethanol, and for coal miners in the western US it means more money for research into developing expensive plants that might one day burn coal cleanly or turn it into gas.

This bill, I'm guessing, is likely to be of huge benefit to Israeli technology firms, several of which are world leaders, and have been one of the few beneficiaries of the difficulties that Israel faces in buying oil. As the Economist (reg. required) notes, Israeli firms are disproportionately represented on the New York exchange already, since they find US investors much more attuned to their businesses than London's.

For instance, probably the world's leading geothermal energy technology company, Ormat, has Israeli founders but a huge US business run from Nevada, where all the geysers are. I'm guessing that they and their peers will be among the recipients of this largesse. Not, I should stress, that there's anything wrong with that, just that I wouldn't want you to think it was all about fighting turr.


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