Friday, June 22, 2007

Partners for Power

Anyone who reads any sort of reliable news provider (that eliminates the New York Times) is aware that the United States, along with most other Western democratic republics, is dependent on foreign oil. The problem with this is that most oil outside of the United States proper is in countries whose governments are at best unfriendly to the ideals of Western freedom (Russia, other Communist countries) and at worst who are actively trying to destroy Western culture (Middle Eastern Muslim countries).

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. David Sokol, chairman of the MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, today has an interesting opinion-editorial in the Washington Post online edition on how the United States can achieve energy self-sufficiency and at the same time reduce damaging emissions.

Sokol proposes that,
What's needed is a joint effort from the power sector, customers and the environmental community to push Congress and the Bush administration to live up to their rhetoric on clean coal, renewables, new nuclear power and efficiency programs.

Federal research and development funding for energy has declined 85 percent since the early 1980s, and efforts to fund the initiatives authorized in the 2005 Energy Policy Act have been sporadic at best. The $7 billion to $9 billion that President Kennedy sought for the space program in 1961 would be the equivalent of $46 billion to $60 billion today. By contrast, the Energy Department's annual civilian R&D budget is barely $2 billion.


This effort could be financed through a small fee (one-twentieth of a cent) applied to every kilowatt of energy sold in the United States. Combined with matching federal funds, this could provide about $4 billion annually -- enough, experts believe, to develop the technology to reduce emissions 25 percent below 2000 levels by the year 2030, with dramatic reductions thereafter.

Sokol has the right idea, though I agree with Captain Ed Morrissey over at Captain's Quarters, who describes Sokol as "being right for the wrong reasons." Morrissey correctly notes that where Sokol targets climate change as a reason for this program, climate change is "hardly the greatest challenge to our generation", despite what global government- enthusiasts like Al Gore and dipsy anti-American socialists like Barbara Boxer think. However, getting America weaned from foreign oil, especially foreign oil controlled by the very people who want to destroy our culture is an excellent idea.

Personally, I would like to see nuclear power come back in vogue. The environmentalism movement, with their usual short-sighted selfishness, did a very good job of killing the industry back in the 1970s, but nuclear power represents the only true long-term alternative to oil. And nuclear power is far cleaner than coal, or oil, or any other high-return energy source. Wind power and solar power, while undoubtedly eco-friendly, are far too region-specific and too undependable to ever replace oil, coal and other sources that really power the country.

In the main, Sokol presents an excellent argument for government and industry to work together as they did in the space program to bring America to independence in energy. However, i wish he had focused on the real threat foreign oil holds- that of dependence on one's enemies, as opposed to the less credulous threat of unspecified "climate change".

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.

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