I was recently sent an email arguing for for drilling in ANWR. This email dovetails very nicely into a recent Republican strategy which can be summed up in a phrase: drilling our way out of the oil crisis.
For everyone over the age of 25, we’ve been here before. In late 1970s, as oil prices began to skyrocket, we had a debate in this country over oil and energy independence. Our president at the time was Jimmy Carter argued for conservation. Carter and a Democratic Congress who pushed for higher fuel standards in cars. He asked Americans to turn down thermostats. He even had a fireside chat from the White House wearing a sweater. He argued for development of alternative energy. President Carter went so far as to put solar panels on the White House.
Since 1980, we lived under a Republican dominated government. President Reagan could not wait to take down solar panels. There was no push from the Reagan administration or either of the two Bush administrations for conservation, for higher fuel standards or for developing alternative energies. Instead, slowly but surely, we’ve injected more and more of our money into oil technology. The pinnacle of the strategy was for the current Bush administration to actually give our tax dollars to the “failing” oil industry. The results of these policies is nothing short of déjà vu all over again. We are currently in another oil crisis. We have the opportunity to either learn from the past or to push America back into oil dependence.
I’m not an energy expert but I do know that we have to decrease our dependence on oil. I guess there are two ways to look at this. We can either wean ourselves off of our dependence or we can stop cold turkey. It is hard for me to understand how drilling anywhere, whether in northern Alaska or off our shores, will help us reach our goal of energy independence from the Middle East (remember they are the guys that hate us). Instead, more drilling seems to be the equivalent giving just “a little bit” of heroin to a heroin addict.
Either through regulation or through tax incentives, we have to encourage business to pump tens of billions of dollars into developing alternative energies. There won’t be one simple solution. Instead, there should be multiple solutions to our energy problem. In some areas of the country solar panels make sense. In other areas of the country, wind power and tidal power may be the answer. As far as nuclear energy, I think France has shown that nuclear energy can be done safely. My problem with nuclear energy is that we end up with radioactive waste that will decay over thousands of years. We, as a country, have not decided what to do with this nuclear waste. Nobody seems to want it in their backyard. Therefore, until the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste is decided, it seems reckless to build more nuclear reactors.
Finally, we have to address the politics of this situation. Republicans have clearly had a mutual and symbiotic relationship with big business over the last 30 to 40 years (probably much longer). If Republicans are pushing an idea, you can be guaranteed that the idea is not helping the average American worker. Instead, the idea helps big business. Drilling everywhere will clearly help big business. How does it help the average American today and tomorrow? With the oil industry owning over 4000 undeveloped and unexplored oil leases off the American coasts, it seems to me that we need to develop what we have before we look for more. We can help the average American worker by developing energy alternatives which will open tens of thousands of jobs in these fields. Now, that’s a plan that will put money into the pocket of the average American worker.