On this 4th of July, let us ponder America’s former energy independence and our current addiction to imported oil. Before 1950 America was an oil exporting country. Imagine the strength of our economy and our leadership position in the world if we were so today.
A reliable source of energy is the life-blood of any modern economy. Oil markets are increasingly volatile and vulnerable to exporters who could turn the screws on importing countries. America's dependence on imported oil is a serious threat to our national security and our economy. Huge money flows to oil exporting countries have implications for America’s political and economic position in the world as they are plunging the U.S. into debt, weakening the dollar, and financing the economies of potential rivals. If the world was peaceful, beneficent, and free, this might matter little, but unfortunately, it is not so. Accordingly, every President since Nixon has set a goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
The current crisis offers an opportunity to do something about this half-century long and universally acknowledged problem, but the country is once again gridlocked. The Democratic Party is concentrating on reducing energy demand, while the Republican Party is concentrating on increasing supply. Compromise is not in the air. And speaking of the air, environmental concerns, including, but not limited to global warming, are well founded. In our energy planning, we need to recognize the total costs of energy including costs to the environment and costs resulting from foreign entanglements.
After 9-11 President Bush missed an opportunity to summon the nation to something better than a shopping spree and the invasion of Iraq. Voters now feel the pinch at the pump and know that we are on the wrong track. Voters sense that the economy, the war, and energy policy (or lack thereof) are all tied together.
The candidate who can articulate a solution can win the election. Let us not hesitate to propose bold initiatives. That means on the demand side mandating more fuel efficient cars, mandating more energy efficient buildings, and promoting mass transit. That means on the supply side investing in solar and wind power, opening up some areas to drilling that were previously off limits, requiring carbon dioxide sequestration to offset increased coal and bio-waste utilization, and reviving our nuclear power industry. The problem is so great that no one solution can be counted on as a magic bullet. The president who can implement an economically and environmentally sound solution will gain the lasting admiration of his countrymen and the gratitude of much of the world.
The alternative is to stay the course. As Lee Iacocca put it: “Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!” Our revolutionary forefathers would understand that.
Your Personal Note:
I was just stopping by your blog and thought you might be interested in some of the work we're doing here at The Wilderness Society. As I'm sure you already know, Utah's become something of a hot spot in the debate over high gas prices, and lots of folks have been talking about oil shale. Of course, Utah's been down that road before, but I'd like to get in touch with you to talk a little more about what's at stake this time around. You're saying some great stuff on here already, so I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
In the meantime, you might want to check out our site: http://wilderness.org/OurIssues/Energy/Oil_Gas_Drilling_and_Gasoline_Prices.cfm
Posted by: Andrew Peters | Jul 17, 2008 1:52:05 PM
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)