Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Democratic Agenda We Can All Get Behind

I have stated in the past that it is vital to our national security and economic well being to become energy independent on imported oil.

The benefits are three-fold

First, it will disengage our middle east foreign policy centered around oil so we can concentrate on democracy and humanitarian issues, including the final resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict. As long as we are dependant on middle east oil, our motives for middle east intervention will be seen as oil centric (right or wrong) and any dicisions we do make will always be tempered by our need for their oil. Additionally, it removes the ability for terrorist organizations to claim we invade their lands for exploitation and neo-colonial purposes and ceases our indirect funding of terrorist organizations.

Second, it would cut our trade deficit by a third. One third of the money that leaves our country is to purchase foreign oil. This increases the value of the dollar and decreases the need for foreign capital to be invested in the US in order to keep our economy moving. Every day that we remain dependant on foreign oil, we become more and more dependant on China to buy our bonds, thus weakening our negotiating power with the emerging super power.

Third, like the space race, this can be used as a uniting force in the US to encourage and produce the next generation of scientist, engineers and entrepreneurs. JFK rallied our country to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's. Education became a patriotic endeavor that vaulted us into the computer era and into one of the greatest economic expansions in human history. A new rally to unite us around common pursuits, instead of dividing us along social partisan lines, is exactly what this nation needs.

Bush's plan to drill in ANWR is moot. ANWR will only produce, at maximum according to geologist at BP, 1% of the total oil consumed in the US. Even if you remove all of the environmental reasons not to drill in ANWR, the fields in Alaska should be held in reserve due to the great chemical resources oil holds. This strategic reserve would ensure that if we were ever cut off from the supply of chemicals and plastics we need for both daily life and military use, we would have a ready supply within months of conflict and about the time our other reserves would be running out.

Democrats seek energy independence by 2020
By Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Democrats launched a plan on Monday for energy independence by 2020 that seeks to relieve historically high oil and gas prices by cutting reliance on foreign sources of energy.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) Pennsylvania's Gov. Ed Rendell said greater use of renewable energy, mass transit and domestic fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel could cut oil and gas imports. A plan they unveiled on Monday is called Energy Independence 2020.

President George W. Bush is seeking more domestic production of oil by pushing Congress to include opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling in a bill that could see a vote this week. He also supports heavy investment in hydrogen energy.

Some energy analysts say the United States, which consumes about a quarter of the 80 million barrels of oil the world uses daily, will be dependent on imports for many decades into the future because alternatives only provide a percentage point or two of the country's energy.

Last week homeowners suffered record prices for natural gas as a nationwide cold spike pushed the heating and cooking fuel to above $15 per million British thermal units. Analysts say low temperatures through December could keep a fire under prices.

U.S. oil hit a record over $70 a barrel this summer. They have since fallen as supplies swelled but prices rose above $60 on Monday as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries paved the way for a cut in output early next year.

Rendell cited Brazil, which has slashed its dependence on crude by making fuel from sugar cane and by producing cars that run on gasoline or ethanol. "If Brazil can do it, so can we," he Rendell.

In unveiling the plan, Clinton told reporters that U.S. dependence on oil makes up one third of the country's trade deficit.

(Full Story)


Pedro said...

Energy independence is probably the best idea that nobody is really talking about. The Republicans don't take it seriously because they're in the pockets of the oil/gas/coal companies. Why the Dems haven't made a bigger issue out if it is beyond me, because you're right that it's completely a winning issue for them. I'd support it.

tommy said...

It's all a good idea, the problem is will there be any support for a particular idea when it comes forward. To date that has been what's killed everything. Nuclear, fuel additives, even windmills have been, perhaps ethanol is different, but everything else was highly touted until it wasn't.

There most likely isn't a solution without negative side effects, the desire for the perfect answer is part of why we are still in this predicament.

Dingo said...

you are correct Tommy about the support thing. It used to be big in the environmental movement to be against nuclear power. Now environmentalist are for it because it is better than the alternative fossil fuel. Windmills kill birds, damns kill fish. Everything has problems, but I am sure that we can find fixes to those problems also. Americans are pretty damn innovative. We just need a concerted effort to find the solutions.

the biggest issue is costs of alternative energy sources. LED lights use 10% the energy of regular bulbs, but because of the price, people don't buy them. Solar power is still really expensive, also. But MRI & CAT scan machines used to be prohibitively expensive, until there was a concerted effort between government researchers, universities and private entities to make them better and cheaper.

* on a completely tangential note - Americans and inventiveness - I have always believed that is one of the reasons other people don't always like us (or at least don't fully trust us). Before the Peloponnesian wars, Athens and Sparta were allies. Sparta called in Athens to help them in their long siege of a city north of Sparta. When the Spartans saw how inventive the Athenians were in their siege techniques, it scared the begeebers out of the Spartans because they knew that some day it could be used against them. That, it what I consider the beginning of the road to the Peloponnesian war.