Today, even for several decades, our elected officials have failed to provide us with energy security.
It's clear, the solution is to get the oil addiction monkey off our backs. Drilling for more oil is just digging a deeper hole when we are trying to get out of the hole.
McCain mocks Obama for calling for motorists to fill their tires to the level that maximizes gas use, even though, if everyone did as Obama suggests, this would provide as much gas savings as coastal oil drilling would provide. McCain and his people are the same oafs who mock people who want clean air, who resist deforestation as tree huggers.
We need big picture thinking to fix our energy problem. Maybe the oil companies should be required to have service station attendants who check tire air pressure whenever a person puts gas in a fuel tank. There are a lot of kids who can't get jobs. This would provide some. Or maybe the government should create a new 21st century conservation corps, like my father worked in when he was in his twenties, back in the thirties, and those workers could literally walk the streets, checking air on parked cars, optimizing the tire pressure. And they could go door to door doing energy audits, for free, on homes and apartments, helping people to identify ways to save energy. Again, more jobs and massive energy savings.
But the biggest way to save energy is to get the auto makers to improve their gas mileage performance. The Wall Street Journal reports that lately, American car companies are resisting a 24% efficiency increase target of 31 mpg set for 2015.
This automaker resistance is more of a threat to national security than the threat from terrorists. Their resistance is endangering lives and costing the US hundreds of billions in balance of trade. And they've been doing this, harming-- severely harming-- our national security for decades. They do it with the help of lobbyists and weak legislators who think they are helping their constituents. Tell the tens of thousands of already laid off autoworkers that being soft on auto manufacturers which are now faring terribly in market competition with foreign companies that had the foresight to build hybrid and high fuel efficiency vehicles.
It is time Americans let automakers know that their short-sighted, tight-fisted failure to build much more efficient cars played a role in our going to war, played a role in increasing our vulnerability to mideast instability.
It is time for Americans to demand that automakers do much better. It doesn't necessarily take legislation that requires automakers to build better cars. These companies respond to the market. If legislators reward consumers who buy more fuel efficient cars and if they punish consumers who drive gas-hogs, the market will force the American car manufacturers to clean up their act.
Let's review this again. Drilling for more oil is digging a deeper hole to get out of the hole.
The solution to the national security emergency our dependence upon foreign oil creates can be found in many ways besides digging for oil or finding new sources for oil. There is no solution that involves using more oil. The solution is all about using less oil and moving towards not using oil at all as a fuel for vehicles or electricity generation. That means we need to come up with ways to cut that use. One way is to use alternative energy sources. The other way is to make vehicles and products that use less energy AND to use all the energy devices we have now in a more energy efficient way. Do we even know which of these offers the lowest hanging, easiest to reach fruit?
Imagine adding a computer that tracks gas mileage. It might add $100- $300 to the cost of a car, probably less. if hundreds of thousands or millions are built. The device would record mileage and gasoline use and calculate miles per gallon for the car. Once every three or six months, you'll have a gas station attendant get a report from you device which will create a credit card that has YOUR gas use profile on it. The government will set guidelines so the worst the mileage, the more you pay per gallon. It won't take long for people to do all they can to maximize their mileage, including buying the most fuel efficient cars. Of course, tax breaks should be given for high mileage cars and tax surcharges should be required for gas guzzlers. That'll motivate the auto manufacturers too, and revenues from the tax surcharges will pay for research and development of new alternative energy approaches. (Hey, I'm an inventor. We're using to trying out lots of things that don't work, to get to things that do.)
We need to end our need for oil, not keep drilling for more of the substance we are addicted to. Republican leaders are not bringing solutions that help us end our addiction. They're just finding new ways to feed it and they are mocking some of the simplest solutions at our fingertips.
Perhaps we need to invest in getting far more systematic about decreasing wasteful use of energy and increasing our awareness of efficient approaches to energy. We invest in education and free resources for safe sex to prevent AIDS and for contraception. We invest in Fire Safety programs. We're spending billions on Homeland Security. Why not take Obama's suggestion that we optimize our tire pressure to the next level and make a serious effort, setting up education and free consult centers to save the hundreds of billions we could save by getting more efficient in our energy use?
And while we're at it, let our legislators and the American auto manufacturers know that we consider energy efficiency an issue of national security-- and that they have to do much better.