Next year: science and greentech in Washington D.C.

As always, money will dominate American poilitics next year. But it appears science may play a larger role that it has in recent years.

As always, money will dominate American poilitics next year. But it appears science may play a larger role that it has in recent years. The Obama Adnministration wants a scientist at the head of the Energy Department. It would be the first time a Nobel Prize winning scientist had headed the agency. And another scientist at the EPA.

Now Obama has named his choices for other key science and technology roles. Overall it looks like a group of scientists who'll push for a more active federal role in pursuing climate change action. The nominated head for NOAA has repeatedly said the agency had not done enough to stop over-fishing of the world's oceans. Definitely a new era coming to the federal government. And fullemployment for lawyers working for interests trying to maintain the status quo.

FRIENDS OF ETHANOL

The new American regime will have two staunch friends of ethanol production in key roles: at the head of the Departments of Transportation and Agriculture. At this point the score stands: Corn Belt 2, Exxon 0.

With gasoline prices at a four year low it is not clear how much political will there'll be to subsidize alternatives fuels and technologies during a recession. Adjusted for inflation, BTW, gasoline is no more expensive than it was in the late 1970s.

HEATING COULD BE HOT

One argument I often hear about getting the U.S. free of buying ever-greater amounts of imported oil: just stop wasting energy. One aspect of the economic stimulus plan proposed by the still unofficial Obama Admin: save a billion dollars in enery costs by improving builidng insulation. The jobs would clearly be local, and much of the insulation currently used in American buildings is actually made in the U.S. Here are some of the major American insulation makers. Here are a few of the key American-owned players: Dow Chemical Company, Johns Manville, Owens Corning, and CertainTeed Corporation.

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