The whole idea of "prepare 20 years before PO" pretty well means that government must make an investment because obviously the market isn't going to. Alternative energy is called that because it can't compete with FFs in the marketplace - so who is going to do the required investing in a money losing business?
So O has his tit in the wringer on this and he should take responsibility but the bigger question to me is what exactly is the option to the US government doing the backing when any sane investor would run?
When a business uses more value than it creates, i.e., when it loses money, there is a net loss of resources. If it is an individual or business that makes the wrong decisions, the loss is his and his creditors; if the government steps directly into the role of business or indirectly by subsidizing or making loan guarantees, and that turns out to be the wrong decision, we all must bear the burden of this bad decision. When you place the burden of bad decisions on innocent bystanders rather on those who make those bad decisions, you create a disconnect between cause and consequence. You create mal-investments. You punish the wrong people. You do not discourage bad decisions.
Wouldn't you and I be better off if we were not burdened with the consequences of the poor decisions of someone else? We would have more of our own money to follow our own paths in dealing with the end of the oil age.
Your argument that government should do what no sane person would do does not make sense to me. You are attempting to substitute your own judgement about what does or should have economic value for the collective judgement of the market place. You are attempting to burden others to implement your own view of the world, when it is the collective judgement of us all as expressed through the market place that brings us what we want. There is no perfect economic system, but there are those which history has demonstrated are less effective than others, and centralized planning has repeatedly failed. If one were to look closely at the current economic problems, I think he would find that the rigging of the markets by corporate/government collusion has a lot more to do with it than free markets. Politicians and bureaucrats do not have the ability to know what investments should or should not be made to solve the energy problem, if it even does have a solution; they are principally motivated by their own best interest, and cannot possibly know what the best allocation of resources is.
So the bigger question is if we are better off having where resources are invested dictated by politicians and bureaucrats (a dictatorship so to speak) or are we better off being free to privately decide what risks we judge worthy or risking our wealth and what is insane. If there is a solution to the energy/resource scarcity problem, I can pretty much guarantee that it will no arise from the minds of the dullards who occupy the seats of power.