by Mel Griffith
In the President's State of the Union address he promised that we are going to get energy independent and stop being at the mercy of foreign oil producers. It all sounded good. It would have sounded better if we hadn't heard it all before. Indeed, it seemed he must have accidentally picked up a page from somebody's speech from 1973. For those not old enough to remember, there was a big energy crisis back then because some Arab dictators got their panties in a wad over one of those mindless disputes that have been going on in the Mid East at least ever since Abraham's and Lot's hired hands fell out over who could use which pasture. They decided to cut off our oil for a while, even though what happened wasn't our fault and there were long lines at gas stations and all our leaders vowed never again. Then they went down the list of what needed to be done and didn't do anything. The problem was that some special interest group opposed everything that needed to be done. Nobody wants to lose any votes offending special interests just because something needs to be done. Lets look at the list of what ought to have been done:
1. Build windmills. No, scratch that one, some people don't like them spoiling the view.
2. Build nuclear power plants. No, don't do that, some people are afraid of them.
3. Build ethanol plants. Nope, feed industry doesn't like competition for corn.
4. Drill for oil off California coast. Can't do that California folks don't like it.
5. Drill for oil off Florida coast. No, Florida folks don't like it either.
6. Drill for oil in Alaska. No, environmental fanatics don't like that.
7. Burn more coal, of which we have plenty. No, coal makes smoke and environmentalists don't like smoke.
Every good idea that someone comes up with steps on the toes of somebody else and nobody has the courage to overcome the narrow special interests to benefit the general welfare. No more energy gets produced and energy independence turns into a bunch of bureaucrats who don't produce anything instead telling us to live poor and save energy so they don't have to produce more. If we want to make any progress we need to remember that you have to break some eggs to make an omelet and you have to overcome some opposition in order to produce more energy.
Even if we did produce more oil, we couldn't refine it. We have stopped building refineries. The environmental fanatics have made it so expensive, slow and uncertain to build one that no one wants to try.
Perhaps we really will see some meaningful action this time. Bush has a record of taking action when he sees a problem. Let's hope there aren't so many problems that this one gets lost in the shuffle the way it did before. If we don't get serious, our grandchildren may have things worse than our grandparents did.