WHAT MUST BE DONE ABOUT ENERGY?


Your hell-raiser admittedly knows little about energy, but I know how much I have to pay for gasoline. There’s no doubt that, as gasoline prices rise, the debate about energy will intensify because fuel prices will have far-reaching effects on the economy.

So is the current administration pursuing a rational energy policy? It appears to me that the Obama administration is spending billions, if not trillions, of dollars on long-term energy solutions while turning a blind eye toward current needs.

Some of the president’s opponents say that if Obama had adopted a temporary policy of allowing drilling here for oil to increase our domestic supply; if he had allowed drilling in known oil fields in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); if he had not curtailed drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for so long after the BP oil spill; if he had allowed the Keystone pipeline project to proceed; if he had encouraged construction of new refineries; if he had temporarily relaxed stringent EPA restrictions that discourage exploration and development of fossil fuels; and if he now would suspend the more than 30 required blending of fuels at our refineries, we would be more insulated against spiking gasoline prices.

Of course we want to protect the environment, and some of these measures could harm it. But can’t there be a compromise: Do everything possible in the short term to increase our domestic gasoline supply while continuing to work hard to find alternative fuels that won’t harm the environment. That would be the rational energy policy for now.

To be fair to the president, we have known about the pressures on domestic fuel sources for over 30 years, and no president before Obama, and no congress, has had the balls to tackle the problem, and it is not a given that a Republican who might defeat Obama in November will do anything better. But apparently it is Obama’s policy to allow gasoline prices to rise in the hope that it will spur development of alternative, and less harmful, energy sources (with an eye toward his “green” voting constituency). Never mind that most of us can’t afford to buy hybrid or electric cars, and that, even if we could buy non internal-combustion-engine cars, the conversion likely would not happen before the rising gasoline and other energy prices kill the weak economic recovery that Obama touts as the reason we should re-elect him.

In an apparent contradiction, Obama said this week that there is nothing that he, or any president, can do about gasoline prices because the conditions that affect them are outside his control, and at the same time he stated that he is considering ways that the administration can help bring down gas prices. Well, if there is a way that the administration could help bring down gas prices, it hasn’t done it in the last three years.

An energy policy that focuses on results that may take 20 years or more while doing nothing about present problems is not a viable policy. And even if Obama decides now (because it is election year) to do something about alleviating our suffering because of high gas prices, as far as I’m concerned, he’s had his chance for the past three years. My attitude is that if there were things that could have been done to prevent the current spike in gas prices, he hasn’t been willing to do them, so I’m not willing to give him another four years.

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