Democrats & Liberals Archives

Bush: Keep Funding Terrorists

The Clarke controversy is interesting and it may have a huge impact on the election, but I’m going to talk policy again. While we’re here in this column arguing about how lame President Bush’s counter-terrorism policy was pre-9/11, the Republicans are over in their column trying to abolish Social Security.

I’m going to summarize President Bush’s energy plan using the same criteria I used to discuss John Kerry’s plan. A significant amount of the more than $20 billion we spend on oil from the Middle East finds its way into the hands of terrorists and finances schools that teach young Muslims to hate Americans. Also, OPEC has recently threatened to decrease output while the US is simultaneously struggling to replenish its strategic reserve, causing gas prices to rise significantly. I believe we need a plan that makes the United States totally independent of foreign oil for its energy needs. The President’s plan does not meet that criteria.

President Bush's plan would deliver a reduction in (but not an end to) foreign oil usage through energy conservation, development of domestic oil sources, and development of alternative energy sources like coal and nuclear.

It also includes a boatload of provisions to deregulate power companies, facilitate US energy companies' development of foreign oil and natural gas resources, relaxation of domestic environmental and zoning regulations, fast tracking of oil drilling and hydro-electric damming leases, subsidies for oil exploration and extraction, and on and on. Really. Read the summary. It's an energy company's dream: unregulated, subsidized exploration and extraction.

Energy Conservation
The plan calls for more studies of the impacts of raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks "based on sound science." So there won't be any reduction of foreign oil usage there any time soon. The plan also calls for initiatives to ease traffic congestion and reduce idling of trucks at truck stops. As far as I can tell, there are no studies which estimate the amount of oil those measures will save. Probably the most effective conservation initiative in the plan calls for increasing the public's awareness of the energy savings gained from using Energy Star labeled appliances.

Increased Domestic Energy
The plan calls for government subsidies to enhance productivity at existing wells and improve technology for exploring new wells, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The plan also calls for a review of drilling lease "impediments" in the continental United States and in Alaska, subsidies for offshore drilling, and investment in clean coal technology. To round out domestic energy development, the plan calls for licensing new nuclear plants and easing restrictions on hydro-electric dams.

Renewable Energy Programs
The plan calls for a re-evaluation of access to federal land for increasing biomass, wind, geothermal, and solar energy production, as well as more studies of the effectiveness of those energy sources, and to model the programs as public-private partnerships. Tax credits would also be implemented to encourage residential solar power systems, and there's some wacky scheme to award $1.2 billion in bid bonuses for biomass, wind, geothermal, and solar energy research in the ANWR. Last, the plan calls for more research into hydrogen and fusion power, and tax credits for the purchase of gas-electric hybrid cars.

Then there's a whole bunch of gobbledy-gook about enhancing our energy distribution system (which should be done, but has nothing to do with decreasing our dependence on foreign oil), and working through diplomatic channels to allow US companies to develop energy resources in other countries.

So in a nutshell, the President's plan is to develop more domestic oil, coal, and nuclear power, while continuing to study renewable energy and encouraging people to use Energy Star appliances and drive hybrid cars.

By any measure, this plan is not going to give the United States energy independence. It still leaves Americans with the choice of driving around in lime-green electric clown cars or funding terrorists at the pump.

Posted by American Pundit at March 29, 2004 9:40 AM