Welcome to the Energy Party, Mr. Obama (I hope)

Hope. Change. Energy Party... /2008 file photo

Heard an encouraging report on the radio this morning that I can’t seem to find now online, but there’s this from the WSJ:

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama, under pressure to respond to rising gas prices, will outline Wednesday a series of initiatives to cut the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, including new initiatives to expand oil production, increase the use of natural gas to power vehicles and increase production of ethanol….

The political heat over energy policy is rising in tandem with the price of gasoline and diesel fuels at filling stations, in a ritual that has become familiar in Washington since the oil price shocks of the mid-1970s. “We’ve been having this conversation for nearly four decades now,” Mr. Obama said during a March 11 news conference. “Every few years, gas prices go up; politicians pull out the same old political playbook, and then nothing changes.”

The White House will cast the new effort, a combination of new ideas and previously announced initiatives, as an effort to deal with the nation’s long-term energy challenge, not just the high gas prices of the moment.

Mr. Obama will put forward an overall goal of reducing oil imports by one third over a decade, with half the reduction from decreasing consumption and half from increasing domestic supply, according to two people briefed by the White House…

And this from the NYT:

WASHINGTON — With gasoline prices rising, oil supplies from the Middle East pinched by political upheaval and growing calls in Congress for expanded domestic oil and gas production, President Obama on Wednesday will set a goal of a one-third reduction in oil imports over the next decade, aides said Tuesday.

The president, in a speech to be delivered at Georgetown University, will say that the United States needs, for geopolitical and economic reasons, to reduce its reliance on imported oil, according to White House officials who provided a preview of the speech on the condition that they not be identified. More than half of the oil burned in the United States today comes from overseas and from Mexico and Canada.

Mr. Obama will propose a mix of measures, none of them new, to help the nation cut down on its thirst for oil. He will point out the nation’s tendency, since the first Arab oil embargo in 1973, to panic when gas prices rise and then fall back into old gas-guzzling habits when they recede.

He will call for a consistent long-term fuel-savings strategy of producing more electric cars, converting trucks to run on natural gas, building new refineries to brew billions of gallons of biofuels and setting new fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles. Congress has been debating these measures for years.

The president will also repeat his assertion that despite the frightening situation at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex in Japan, nuclear power will remain an important source of electricity in the United States for decades to come, aides said.

He will respond to members of Congress and oil industry executives who have complained that the administration has choked off domestic oil and gas production by imposing costly new regulations and by blocking exploration on millions of acres of potentially oil-rich tracts both on shore and off.

The administration is not prepared to open new public lands and waters to drilling, officials said, but will use a new set of incentives and penalties to prod industry to develop resources on the lands they already have access to…

Wish I could find the radio report, because it pretty much painted what the president will have to say as being VERY Energy Party. As you may recall I took both Mr. Obama and John McCain to task in 2008 for being unworthy of Energy Party support, however many other virtues the two may have possessed (and as you know, I liked them both — it was the first time ever that both parties nominated my first choices in their respective fields).

But increasingly, Mr. Obama seems to GET IT — that it’s not about keeping gas prices low; it’s not about pleasing the left or the right. It’s about freeing this country from its dependence from foreign oil, for all sorts of economic and geopolitical reasons. Nothing we could do would be more likely to make the nation stronger and healthier.

It’s about being a grownup, and taking the long view.

9 thoughts on “Welcome to the Energy Party, Mr. Obama (I hope)

  1. Steven Davis

    Who is going to pay the bill to have oil burning furnaces over to electricity or natural gas? Will there be a Cash for Clunkers program in place to upgrade the only source of heat for some in the North?

    Ideas are good, until you have to fund them.

  2. Kathy

    Of all the public policy items that trouble me, our lack of any kind of rational energy policy is one of the most frightening. Wasn’t this supposed to be addressed 35 years ago? Remember the gas lines and the odd/even days? I am NOT in favor of cap and trade or any other ridiculous leftist ideas. But it seems that in 35 years, the United States could have developed and instituted a sensible policy that would have greatly lessened our dependence on oil from countries who want us to disappear. What a disgraceful lack of leadership.

  3. bud

    It’s about freeing this country from its dependence from foreign oil, for all sorts of economic and geopolitical reasons. Nothing we could do would be more likely to make the nation stronger and healthier.

    Hardly a “grown-up” position to take. Sounds more like a kid who doesn’t understand the global economy. Sensible energy policy would reject the utterly ridiculous notion that somehow dangerous offshore and arctic drilling will actually contribute to energy independence. It’s a foolish game that will leave us in worse shape that if we simply acknowledge the high cost and risk involved in that kind of endevour. Further, it’s becoming clear that nuclear energy is fraught with dangers. Besides uranium too is an imported commodity.

    The only sensible plan would be one that brings a very large measure of conservation to the fore. Until we accept that it is no longer feasible for everyone to drive to work alone 20 miles in a car that gets 15 mpg then we will never get anywhere. And as long as people hold out the false hope that offshore drilling will actually make energy independence possible we just delude ourselves into a false hope that can never be realized. And in the meantime we end up with more Deepwater Horizons, Exxon Valedezes and all the other environmental horrors that come with this illusion.

    Lets just continue to import cheap oil as long as it holds out and get serious about conservation. It’s our only hope for the future.

  4. Brad

    And yes, in my never-ending quest for worthwhile alternatives to the foolishness of the Democrats and Republicans (and no, the Libertarians don’t qualify, not by a long shot — they’re even worse), I have indeed proposed three different parties over the years:

    1. The UnParty
    2. The Energy Party
    3. The Grownup Party

    But they’re not that different. To a great extent, they’re all different ways of expressing the same things. (The Energy Party is just a tad more specific than the others — it applies the principle underlying the other two to a specific policy area.)

  5. Karen McLeod

    We had a chance back in the 70’s to create energy alternatives, and to learn to conserve, and we blew it (Thank you, so-o-o much, Mr. Reagan!). Will we kowtow to big oil again, or will we use money to develop alternate energies, while making it worthwhile to conserve the oil we must use? To those who say it’ll take 20 or 30 years to develop alternative fuels–well they said the same thing back in the 70’s. In 2050 do we want to still be so dependent on other countries, and on an ever diminishing supply of oil?

  6. Norm Ivey

    “Ideas are good, until you have to fund them.”

    We funded a trip to the moon, rural electrification, an Interstate highway system and a host of other good ideas.

    Seems we mostly fund wars and military actions now, and we never really discuss the cost.


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