Energy

Current Energy Policy Strengthens Others While Weakening Us.

The Bush administration emphasized the importance of a national energy policy. For them and their companions on the right, energy means fossil fuels. Energy means an opportunity to strengthen select industries while weakening us as a nation. Whether it be exemptions from clean air and clean water laws for natural gas fracking companies, tax write-offs for purchasing gas guzzling SUVs, or multibillion dollar subsidies for oil companies, the Bush administration’s national energy policy was anything but.

If the need for a national energy policy is so vital to our nation’s future, then yet again the right has failed to deliver a meaningful or beneficial strategy. The best they seem to be able to do is invoke the 180 degree rule. While chanting the popular “drill baby drill” refrain the right does everything in their collective power to ensure that we have the exact opposite of an energy policy. At every turn they fight against any source of energy that isn’t fossil fuel based. Any responsible energy policy would look at responsible uses of today’s energy while developing a comprehensive strategy to move to the energies of tomorrow.

This is what a national energy policy would look like. True to form the right acts to ensure the complete opposite. Rather than develop an energy policy that not only ensures we use energy more efficiently, but that would also give us a competitive advantage the republicans fight against fuel efficiency standards. The result will be less efficient cars, greater consumption of energy and of course correspondingly higher expenditures on energy. The fight agains energy efficiency doesn’t end there, for example energy efficient light bulbs and high speed rail are two more ideas that the GOP has vehemently opposed and taken active steps to kill.

It’s not enough for the right to focus our energy on the wrong energy sources. They also must hamstring our future by defunding green energy. But wait, there’s more. The republican congress not content to hold us back and deny us a brighter future, they also fought to continue to subsidize oil companies to the tune of $4 Billion per year while simultaneously arguing for cuts to everything from education to infrastructure, to food assistance to low-income women, infants, and children, and even local law enforcement.

This is another opportunity to pause and reflect. After BP's 2010 deepwater horizon disaster, the largest oil spill in American history and what could potentially be the largest nuclear disaster the world has ever seen at Fukushima, the republicans defunded all other forms of energy in their budget leaving only oil and nuclear. They have fought tirelessly and rhetorically for the XL Pipeline, the dirtiest source of oil we've yet found and one that some say would consume more energy to extract the oil than the energy the oil itself will produce.

Simultaneously the GOP has created a false Solyndra scandal in an attempt to undermine the green economy in the US. The true story of Solyndra isn't a poor investment gone bad, but rather our failure to invest enough. Other nations, including oil producing nations in the middle east have invested heavily in solar and renewable energies. In fact it was China's large investments in solar technology and their flooding of world markets with low cost solar panels that undermined Solyndra. Solyndra isn't a failure of government investment, but rather a failure of our nation to keep pace with our competitors in the race for the energy future.

The right argues for a national energy policy but fails to give us one. They deny global climate change while fighting against green energies that could make us stronger and more competitive as a nation. But the true cost of the right's intentional avoidance of a responsible energy policy is more than money, it’s more than climate change, it’s more than national competitiveness, it’s more than economic, it’s biggest cost comes in terms of our national security.

The right thumps their chest and cries for war against terror. They talk about protecting America at any cost. They claim to be the only party that can keep us safe. Yet they plunge the nation headlong into a guaranteed future of terror. The energy course they have set us on ensures that we are paying terrorists to attack us. Every dollar we spend on foreign oil contributes to their ability to fund international terror networks and virtually ensures a bright future for terror. Some will counter with the popular "drill baby drill" refrain claiming that this is why we need to drill here at home. They neglect to mention that the United States possesses only about 2% of the world's oil reserves. So it isn't a question of being anti-oil, it's a simple question of numbers. We literally don't possess the oil here that we need to supply our energy needs into the future.

No one on the left says that we should abandon fossil fuels. That would be every bit as irresponsible as the right’s abandoning of green energies. President Obama has called for responsible expansion of drilling, exploring growth of nuclear energy, and the development of new green technologies. That is what a national energy policy looks like.

The facts simply don’t support the right’s position. Their energy policy is bad for our wallet. It’s bad for our future competitiveness. It’s bad for our national security, and yes, it’s bad for our planet.

A recent National Geographic article from September 2009 noted that:

“Back in the 1980s, an engineer named Roland Hulstrom calculated that if photovoltaic panels—the other big solar technology—covered just three-tenths of a percent of the United States, a 100-by-100-mile square, they could electrify the entire country.”

Take a moment to think about that. Read it again. Certainly our energy requirements have grown since 1980. But if this estimate is even half true, our nation has spent the last 30 years spending enormous sums of money on energy that we could have been getting without all of the limitations discussed above. Any fiscal conservative can easily see that energy that flows freely from the center of our solar system, while not producing any pollution, and not making our enemies wealthier and more powerful simply makes sense. How competitive would we be as a nation if we dramatically cut our energy costs and gave our corporations access to cheap or even free energy?

That future is far away, not because we lack the capability, but because we lack the will to ignore the deceptive clamor of the right, we lack the fortitude to answer the calls to “drill baby drill” with the simple facts of green energy. Our energy future would have been our energy present if not for a fundamental lack of leadership. It’s high time that the left drop the anchor of the right and fly with god’s speed to the energy future we so disparately need.