Wednesday :: Feb 1, 2006

Bush's Lack of Vision And Will On Energy

by Steve

Gotta Love those online polls:

MSNBC Online Poll
7:30 AM Wednesday

Did President Bush persuade you that he has the right plan for the country?
106232 responses

Yes: 33%
No: 67%

While the SOTU post-mortems continue today, I keep thinking about what Bush could have said on energy that would truly make this country safer and stronger economically at the same time. By calling for more research after being in office for five years and giving Big Oil a green light and endless tax breaks, Bush’s prescriptions are notable for their lack of imagination and effectiveness. Bush wants to reduce our dependence on foreign oil from the world’s trouble spots, meaning the Persian Gulf, yet to my surprise, the overwhelming majority of our oil already comes from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela. Less than twenty percent of our oil comes from the Persian Gulf, any call to reduce by three quarters our use of one fifth of our supply in the next 20 years is a hollow and pathetically low bar to cross.

Bush didn’t ask for any real sacrifice last night from Americans, and that was intended. The purpose of the speech was to make Bush look to voters like he was paying attention to concerns about energy costs and energy independence without asking voters to change anything. But after five years, Bush’s approach fails three critical tests:

·From a national security perspective, his proposal does nothing in the short or near term to eliminate our need for Persian Gulf oil;

·His proposal does nothing to reduce consumption;

·And from an economic development perspective, his proposal does nothing to refocus our economy away from fossil fuels and towards creating new domestic industries and jobs in the creation of alternative, homegrown energy.

If Bush really wanted to inspire the nation to a better, healthier, and more secure energy future, he could have said:

·Within five years, the United States will reduce its current consumption of Persian Gulf oil significantly and replace it with alternate sources, by looking to the Western hemisphere, Africa, Russia, and Central Asia for trading partners;

·In light of the industry’s record profits, the federal government will end all tax credits and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and refocus that amount of funding into a New Apollo Initiative to develop an alternate energy industry here at home;

·To reduce consumption here at home, CAFÉ standards will be increased, and all tax incentives or credits for high consumption vehicles will be ended, and will be replaced with larger tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid and alternate fuel vehicles;

And these are the less aggressive measures he could have proposed at any time in the last five years. Instead he has done nothing except push for ANWR. Again, there can be grand trade-offs here, between Detroit and the federal government, as Barack Obama has proposed, whereby the federal government assumes the burden of retiree health care from the Big Three in exchange for a major conversion towards energy efficient fleets. There can be new investments in clean and safe coal, new technology nuclear, and alternative fuel development here at home for a fraction of what we have spent in Iraq. And yes, that can include exploration on the continental shelf for new sources of gas and oil for those states that want to allow such exploration in exchange for fees and taxes from the sale of leases. And all of this would be tied to an increase in CAFÉ standards and can be done in the next five years, as well as developing a commitment to Africa as a new development and trading partner, and eating some crow and doing business with Hugo Chavez before China gets there first.

All this takes is imagination and a will to do it, both of which are still sadly lacking in the two oil cowboys at the top of this administration after five years of tragic failure.

And it wouldn't hurt if Democrats spent the next month chasing Bush around the country reminding voters that his failures on energy should not come at the cost of the blood and lives of our soldiers.

Steve :: 8:12 AM :: Comments (5) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!