Offshore drilling is a ruse to get votes-- a ruse that sells out America by leading us down the wrong path. The old saying says that only a crazy person keeps digging to get out of a hole. Well, continuing to drill for oil, as the primary solution to our energy problem is that kind of crazy.
Excessive, unnecessary energy use, as we have become accustomed to, is a dangerous threat to our national security. We can continue to drive our cars, heat, cool and light our homes, and still reduce our use of energy. The problem is-- we don’t demand better automobiles and technologies that use less energy.
I blame our legislators for failing to stand up to short sighted special interests
There’s another story-- of Joe, who is looking for his lost key under the street light. A good Samaritan offers to help him look. He asks. “Where do you think you dropped it?” Joe points to a spot 50 yards away. “Then why are you looking here,” the Samaritan asks. “Because it's easier to look in the light.” The truth is that offshore drilling will not produce usable oil for five to ten years. But it looks easier because it's what we've done in the past to maintain our fossil fuel addiction.
We need strong leadership to move America fast to alternatives that are reusable. We need to start implementing energy use reduction approaches like a national speed limit and an “energy conservation corps.” If we cut our fuel use 20%, we'll stop using the amount of fuel offshore drilling might provide us with in the five to ten years it takes to get up to speed.
We have to get tough with American automobile manufacturers. They are coming to the government for huge loans—probably, within the next year, asking for over $50 billion for the several big auto companies combined. We should not give them a nickel unless they drastically improve the miles per gallon their vehicles produce. The current goals, set by a cowardly congress in 2007, are totally inadequate-- aiming to increase the average mileage of new cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, compared with roughly 25 miles per gallon today. The congress should insist upon 35 MPG by 2015, 50 MPG by 2020 and 80 MPG by 2025.
And they should set benchmarks along the way, so the auto manufacturers will get breaks in having to pay back the loans, if they meet the goals. They can find the money by ending subsidization of oil companies making obscene profits and by adding surtaxes for the vehicles that get the worst mileage. They should repay the borrowed money directly to consumers, by giving discounts for the highest mileage automobiles.
Let’s talk a bit more about the idea of reinventing an “energy conservation corps.” My father joined the conservation Corps back in the mid thirties, when the job was to replant and revitalize the national forests. Today, college and high school grads are having a hard time finding jobs, with unemployment at six percent- and that’s using the fudged numbers the Bush administration appointees have provided. (If you believed there would be WMDs in Iraq, you may choose to believe the economic numbers Bush administration people supply. I don’t. )
A modern day conservation corps could give out-of-work new grads and laid-off unemployed workers real work that could return their self-respect and local income taxes. The new conservation corps would be mandated to save energy. Some workers would walk the streets optimally inflating automobile tires—with legal permission to do so without car owner permission. Some would use infra-red thermal heat sensing technology to assess homes and apartments to identify heat leaks, providing free reports to home owners on how to save money and how much they’d save. Some could even provide free sealing strips and simple supplies and install them in homes. It would be much better to provide $100 in free labor and $50 in insulation supplies, which would save $500 or $1000 in heating bill costs AND lower America’s need for foreign oil, than to just give away $1000 as both candidates are talking about.
Instead of just handing out $1000, require people to show proof that they’ve done something— options from a checklist of possible ways to cut energy consumption in their homes and cars.
It’s time we develop a new sense of patriotic self responsibility. We must develop a change in attitude that deals with our energy-addiction as a national security issue that we solve by cutting our energy use and demanding that our elected leaders take smart, visionary steps and make tough laws that support energy independence through alternative energy innovations AND bold conservation approaches.