Interesting that much of the proposed spending on renewable energy research in Bush's budget is tied to drilling in the arctic [Bush ties alternative energy research to Arctic drilling money - Las Vegas Sun].
Here's the administration perspective - basically, "Hey, we've got to get the money from somewhere."
The proposal to spend $1.2 billion in lease sales on research of renewable energies...should help temper opposition to drilling in arctic Alaska, said Rebecca Watson, assistant interior secretary for land and minerals management.
"One would hope that it would," Watson told The Associated Press. She said it was the first time the administration had proposed spending the proceeds from the oil sales directly on alternative power research.
"It fits with the president's national energy policy, which is a balanced approach looking at increasing domestic fossil fuels but also looking ahead to renewable energy," she said in a telephone interview from Washington.
"Renewable energy faces some hurdles from a financial standpoint so it needs some more money for research. This type of a proposal would be a big boost," she said.
The opposition perspective, not surprisingly, doesn't buy it:
Critics of the drilling swiftly denounced the idea of sweetening the pot with more than $1 billion for research in renewable energy.
"It is ridiculous to pretend the only way to have renewable energy is to drill in the arctic," said Bruce Hamilton, national conservation director for the Sierra Club.
"Anybody with an environmental conscience can see right through it," he said Friday from group headquarters in San Francisco.
Politics, as always, will play a big role in whether or not the drilling happens:
Even with the GOP taking over, "there isn't sufficient turnover in the Senate to open up the Arctic unless some people who have been voting with us decide to turn against us," Hamilton said.
"There will be a number of people who voted against the drilling last round who will be under extreme pressure to switch their vote," he said.