Monday, June 23, 2008

A Real Energy Plan

Today we'll focus on energy policy, which is, and should be, a major campaign issue in 2008.

The problem that the mainstream media is focusing on today - depending on which candidate they're referring to - is either (a) gas prices are more than $4 per gallon (this typically shows up in pro-Obama articles, suggesting that the Republicans have let the economy get out of control), or (b) idiots want to drill for oil offshore so they can destroy the environment (this typically finds its way into articles about Bush or McCain).

The real problem is this, folks. More than 75% of the oil consumed by the USA is sold to us by other countries (i.e., "imported oil"). Over the past twenty years, the percentage of imported oil has grown significantly. Our economy is driven by, and dependent upon, foreign countries to supply the USA with oil. What can we do?

Let me preface the rest of this posting with this mea culpa. I, too, was blinded by the media. I was not a supporter of off-shore drilling. However, my reasons were not because I wanted to save the three-legged fishtoad (or whatever it is that we're trying to save these days), but because I want true energy independence. I want to get away from oil, and I figured that if we as US citizens felt enough pain, we'd make the right decision to invest in alternative energy sources because, after all, we're industrious and highly creative. When we come upon an emergency situation, we unite and solve, as evidenced by over 230 years of history. (Note: I'm taking 1776 as the starting point, not the adoption of the Constitution in 1787.)

But now I see the light. And the solution is so simple, I should be slapping myself upside the head like they do in the old V-8 commercials.

Here's the solution: adopt a multi-staged approach - a short-term solution working in conjunction with a longer-term plan that yields more energy independence. First, you balance the higher prices (fueled, in part, by increased demand) with increased supply of domestic-supplied oil and natural gas. This may not increase the supply of oil immediately, as it takes years to yield oil once you start the process to explore and drill, but you will signal to the market that the supply will increase in the near future. This will impact the market, and drop the price of oil. But even more important - it starts us down the path to reduce our reliance on foreign countries for the lifeblood of our economy.

Second, you immediately invest in the energy infrastructure. You need to incent the energy industry, as well as invest in upgrading the infrastructure to adopt cleaner fuel technologies. We should be building more nuclear power plants and increasing R&D credits for companies who are creating new, more efficient alternative energy sources (solar, wind, etc). This will allow us to reduce the overall amount of energy supplied by oil, and will also help the tree huggers breathe easier when they drive their SUVs up scenic mountain stretches so they can ride their bikes. And please save your drivel about adopting the solar/wind solutions today. They just aren't efficient enough yet to be adopted widely. Get some good old fasioned American ingenuity working on that, and we'll have the solution in place before you can say "Obama is the emptiest suit I've ever seen".

Third, we need to continue to provide tax credits to consumers to adopt energy efficient practices at home. Upgrading boilers, water heaters, doors, windows, and insulation in the home will reduce oil and natural gas usage. Reward this behavior with tax credits - especially if the investments are being made in companies that are manufacturing the boilers, water heaters, etc in the USA. This is a win/win for everyone: tax savings for consumers, income for home heating equipment manufacturers, reduced demand for oil, and less pollution created so that Al Gore will have more carbon credits available to use in his mansion. (And just imagine if Big Al decided to use all of his hot air for the good of mankind - heating homes - rather than contributing to his "Global Warming" campaign. But we'll get to that topic another day.)

The solution is quite simple, but getting Congress to act is proving to be the biggest obstacle of all.

Email your Congress representative: enact an energy policy that makes sense.

-- Submitted by R Wellesley

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