Achieving energy independence has become a common refrain for both parties in recent elections. And it is a worthy objective. One needn't look too far into the history of the Middle East to recognize that having our nation's lifeblood dependent upon such an unstable part of the world is not wise or prudent. First, it gives these oil-producing countries excellent leverage to wield economic blackmail over us. Second, and far more important, we constantly run the risk of having to send young Americans to die in conflicts to preserve our national interests. It's all needless and unnecessary if the United States would get serious about energy independence - meaning we actually pursue policies that bring us to that result rather than just talk about them during election season.
Our current president said on the campaign trail, "I will set a clear goal as president. In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil in the Middle East." That's a wonderful idea - if only he meant it.
There are at least four common sense steps we could take immediately to ensure meeting President Obama's stated goal. The major obstacle in taking them, unfortunately, is President Obama and his party.
Perhaps that's not fair. Pursuing alternative energies like solar and wind power are excellent ideas, and Obama embraces them. These two sources of energy should be utilized to their fullest. But it does us absolutely no good to ignore that solar power is incredibly expensive, and that the cumulative benefits of both it and wind power are modest. Simply put, we won't be powering cities off of either.
President Obama has also called to rebuild the nation's energy grid to save wasted energy. I'm with him. And when he asks Americans to do a better job conserving energy, we shouldn't bristle in response. Conservation is a good thing - whether it's carpooling when we can, turning off the lights when we leave a room, recycling, or turning our thermostats down when we go on vacation.
On those objectives (wind, solar, conservation, and electrical grid), Mr. Obama has my unwavering support. But pretending like that alone will bring us to energy independence in 100 years, much less a decade, is silly. True energy independence will only be achieved when we start putting it as a higher priority than allegiance to outdated ecological concerns and unreasonable environmental alarmism...something that to this point, Democrats like Mr. Obama have been unwilling to do.
First, the United States must greatly expand our own domestic drilling. The outer continental shelf and Gulf of Mexico hold incredibly rich supplies of oil and natural gas. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a massive piece of land with some pristine and beautiful areas that should be left alone. But the tiny portion of ANWR proposed for drilling is far removed from these gorgeous regions and is a barren wasteland. Drill now.
Secondly, we should begin seriously mining oil shale from mountains in the United States. We have more oil shale in our mountains than the Middle East has oil in their reserves.
Third, we could be the Saudi Arabia of the world when it comes to coal if we so desired. We have the ability to burn coal cleanly, and we're sitting on massive supplies of it.
Fourth and finally, anyone who is truly serious about energy independence has no choice but to demand the expansion of nuclear power. Any environmentalist who frets over man-made global warming, yet opposes nuclear power, has absolutely no credibility. Even the waste from nuclear energy can be properly stored and reused for more energy later. Moreover, it is the only non-fossil fuel based energy that can legitimately power cities. And when alarmists warn that it can't be done safely, remind them that our Navy has been powering submarines with it for decades just fine. Also, even the French are building nuke plants. Enough said.
These four steps should be embraced by all Americans. Yet President Obama is committed to an "environmental alarmist-based," not "energy independence-based" agenda. He plans to force Americans off fossil fuels by causing their price to soar. In a pre-election interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama said, "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket." This is the worst possible policy for the United States when it comes to energy, as it will inevitably gut the American economy.
Destroying jobs is not the way to make America energy independent, Mr. President. The answer is to pursue four obvious solutions that your party doesn't seem to be interested in at all.