Energy Independence – Stop With the Excuses

Two years ago, when the price of gasoline hit $3.00, there was a great deal of sound and fury by the politicians about energy independence. And, as usual, all it amounted to was “sound and fury.” Absolutely nothing was done. Not one thing.

With the exception of the “new find” in North Dakota, there has been precious little domestic exploration. Drilling offshore on the Atlantic, Pacific and Florida shores remains banned. Development of the huge oil field in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) remains banned. The oil shale in western Colorado and Utah remains untapped. Coal production remains at a fraction of its potential. Coal bed methane gas remains largely untapped. There have been no new oil refineries constructed in over thirty years. There have been no new nuclear plants built in over twenty years. The only increased supply of energy is more hot air from Washington, D.C.

And when the price of gasoline dropped back to the low $2.00 range, the “sound and fury” abated. No the problem wasn’t solved, it was just shoved to the back of the shelf in hopes that no one would notice. Two years have been wasted and we are no closer to achieving energy independence. Two years have been wasted and now we are at gasoline prices in the mid-$4.00 range and moving rapidly toward $5.00.

And still nothing but mindless bickering and pandering to special interests. John McCain, at long last, has conceded that we need to increase exploration including offshore drilling. Inexplicably, however, he remains opposed to opening ANWR so a herd of caribou can copulate with privacy. The same arguments heard in opposition to ANWR were used in opposition to the Alaskan pipeline and proved to be absolutely untrue. The caribou (or reindeer or whatever they are) have multiplied at a much faster rate than they did pre-pipeline. McCain supports new development of nuclear facilities — the greenest of green technologies.

In contrast, Barack Obama and his far left supporters have no solutions other than to increase the pain. (Turn down your thermostat in the winter, turn up your thermostat in the summer, don’t use your car, don’t use the convenience of modern electronics, and so on and so on.) They oppose every new source of energy. Oh, yes, they talk about “renewable energy” — wind, solar, and biofuels — but as often as not, they oppose most of the actual deployment. The land mass necessary for solar panels and wind farms make them a blight on the landscape and thus they have opposed wind farms in the Columbia Gorge and the new proposal for wind farms west of Battleground, Washington. Most of it is “not in my backyard” opposition rather than any legitimate concern.

But there are several parts of this unrelenting opposition by the left that drive me nuts. First, a constant rejoinder from the left is that development of oil fields, natural gas fields, refineries and nuclear facilities will take too many years to have an impact on our current energy crises. For instance, they claim that a nuclear facility would take twenty plus years to bring on line and that a new oil refinery would take at least twelve years.

What a crock. It would take less than two years to construct a new oil refinery and less than five years to construct a nuclear facility. The only reason that there is an extended time frame is because the people who are claiming it would take too long are the same people that have imposed the bureaucratic process that imposes ten to twenty year approval processes. That’s right. The long lead time for constructing additional energy resources is not construction — it’s government delay.

And don’t insult my intelligence by claiming all of this is necessary to build “safe” facilities. They have been building “safe” nuclear facilities in Europe for twenty years. There are established protocols that will produce “safe” facilities whether they are nuclear, oil refineries, new energy fields, whatever. Most of the government delays in the “permitting process” are designed to ensure that no new facilities are build — and they have succeeded.

Second, the opposition to most development offshore is confined to American development. China, that totalitarian state so admired by the left, is drilling and producing oil off the Florida coast currently and have you heard a single word of protest from those Democrat members of Congress who seem to get the vapors anytime someone suggests American firms drill offshore? Apparently environmental degradation is a uniquely American caused phenomenon. If this was actually about the environment rather than just more anti-business angst, those who organize protests in Portland for everything would happily ship out to Florida.

And third, while the left has successfully blocked domestic energy production in fear that someone might (gasp!) make a profit, they have allowed that lack of production to trigger enormous profits for foreign governments — many of which are hostile to America’s interests (read Chavez in Venezuela, Ahmadinejad in Iran and the Saudis). The cost of production in Saudi Arabia and Iran is estimated to be less than twelve dollars per barrel. At the current price of over $130 per barrel that represents a thousand percent profit. And while Congressional Democrats wax ignorant about the profits of American oil companies not one word is said about the obscene profits being garnered by many of the nations who are directly and indirectly funding terrorism throughout the world.

Please, just once, how about a little balance?

So while the left dawdles — with the help of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike — we have moved farther and farther away from energy independence. Energy consumption continues to grow and domestic supply is stagnant or declining.

While we wait for “hope” and “change” from the nation’s current crop of barely able politicians, it would be nice if just one of them listened to the common sense solutions that every man, woman and child (with the exception of those currently serving in any capacity in government) most assuredly know. Here it is again for you simpletons in Salem and Washington, D.C.

Energy independence is not so simple as growing more corn or flax. It is a complex organism that requires the utilization of all of the available sources of energy in a measured and disciplined manner that will maximize the period of availability. To that end, we should not only be looking at increasing our use of biofuels (and wind and solar energy) but also increasing the production of coal, coal bed methane, natural gas, oil and gas in Alaska and the coastal areas, refinery capacity, distribution networks and nuclear energy. It also requires improving the efficiency of our current consumption — most particularly in transportation — electric cars, hybrids, natural gas cars, even bicycles for the willing. America has the technology and the resources to achieve energy independence within a five-year period. Only the politicians are preventing us from obtaining it.

We have wasted two years already, let’s not waste any more.