Now Even The Conservatives Want An Accelerated Alternate Energy Program
Yesterday in a comments thread, Muckdog and I exchanged some good natured fire over the issue of Bush’s total lack of an energy policy after being in office over four years. With gasoline set to hit at least $2.50 per gallon this summer and oil possibly hitting $100 per barrel according to some on Wall Street, the administration’s “drill today, drill tomorrow, drill forever” energy policy is tailor-made to enrich oil companies and bankrupt this country.
So what are the alternatives that Democrats could be pushing? Well, thanks to Bush’s inaction for four years, additional supplies will not be bubbling up from the ground anytime soon to help out the upcoming crisis of too much demand here and abroad chasing too little supply. Nuclear power deserves another look, as does clean coal, but they do not appear overnight. Even developing alternative energy sources and industries does not occur overnight, but we could have been further down the track towards energy diversification if Bush had seized a real opportunity and taken on a true mantle of leadership to use 9/11 as the wake-up call for an accelerated Manhattan Project approach towards alternative energy sources and reduced consumption here at home. He failed to demonstrate any leadership at all here, and had Congress kill a subsequent effort to raise the corporate average fuel economy standards, as well as signed into law a tax break for firms that buy Hummers. He also along with Cheney helped Enron to destroy the California economy and watched as his industry buddies attempted to take down other states as well.
The Bush Administration will suffer political damage this summer as gas prices take their toll. No spinning about ANWR or jawboning OPEC, or doing a 180-degree switch on tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will deflect the heat that is coming over an administration that is in the pocket of the oil industry and has done nothing to help our national security for fear that it would affect the profits of industry. Recent stories have sprung up about how evangelicals of all people are now seeing a virtue in conservation and more environmentally-conscious policies in our role of guardians of the planet and protectors of the vulnerable. Seeing his evangelical base call for more green-friendly policies would not be enough in and of themselves for Bush and Cheney to move towards a broader energy policy or a Manhattan Project-type effort, because in truth the evangelicals are nothing but tools and fools for Bush and Cheney as a means to an end.
But what if the national security crowd, especially those with links back to Bush I and Reagan started speaking up about the need to diversify our energy supplies and reduce consumption immediately, as a matter of national security? Would this shake Bush and Cheney to go against their oil industry check writers and take action? Maybe, maybe not. Yet we now know that it has happened.
This past week, a bipartisan group of military and national security big foots spoke out about the need for the Bush Administration to get off its ass and move quickly as a matter of national security and anti-terrorism to a new energy policy based on reducing consumption and developing on an accelerated timetable alternate energy sources. Better yet, they sent a letter to Bush, going on record with their concerns and a call for action from the White House. The group, Energy Future Coalition, consists of the likes of former CIA director and Iraq war cheerleader James Woolsey, Reagan era defense and national security officials Frank Gaffney and Bob McFarlane, Bush I counsel and confidant C. Boyden Gray, former Democratic senators Tim Wirth and Gary Hart, right winger Cliff May, Clinton White House official John Podesta, and a slew of military brass. Their main focus is on the need to reduce consumption and develop petroleum alternatives here at home on an accelerated basis, along the lines of a groundbreaking piece that Gray and Wirth wrote for Foreign Affairs back in 2003.
Here’s the question: if evangelical support for a greener set of policies isn’t enough to get Bush and Cheney off the dime on energy, would this group with these credentials be enough to get the White House to separate itself from its oil industry buddies a little?
Here’s another question: with guys of this caliber now appearing on the scene and calling out the Bush Administration to head down this road quickly, albeit cautiously, why can’t the Democrats now use the national security angle to browbeat Bush and Cheney over energy and take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Energy Future Coalition? Sure, this coalition is also shilling for Archer Daniels Midland to get more biomass and ethanol out there, but this can serve as a springboard for the Manhattan Project approach towards the fast-tracking of an alternate energy industry. It is an issue that can really separate Democrats from the hidebound and oil-industry beholden GOP in 2006 and beyond.
Will Democrats seize this opportunity to beat up Bush and Cheney for being weak on national security, terrorism, and for abdicating their responsibilities to all Americans on energy independence?