The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Save the Planet

Charles Krauthammer comments of the on-going travesty that is our Congress' lack of action on short term energy policy and longer term energy independence:
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes lifting the moratorium on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Outer Continental Shelf.

She won't even allow it to come to a vote. With $4 gas having massively shifted public opinion in favor of domestic production, she wants to protect her Democratic members from having to cast an anti-drilling election-year vote. Moreover, given the public mood, she might even lose. This cannot be permitted. Why?

Because as she explained to "I'm trying to save the planet. I'm trying to save the planet."

A lovely sentiment. But has Pelosi actually thought through the moratorium's actual effects on the planet?

It appears that in Pelosi’s infantile view of the world, all the US must do is “be an example” and every other oil producer will join us in lock step to “save the planet.” She conveniently forgets that unstable, corrupt regimes such as Nigeria are among the world largest oil exporters and among the most egregious polluters. Another oil producing country, Russia, will drill on the arctic circle and will not abide by 1/10th of our environmental rules.

Pelosi and many of her Democratic colleagues were among the champions of corn to ethanol production in the US. Krauthammer comments:
The other panacea, yesterday's rage, is biofuels: We can't drill our way out of the crisis, it seems, but we can greenly grow our way out. By now, however, it is blindingly obvious even to Democrats that biofuels are a devastating force for environmental degradation. It has led to the rape of "lungs of the world" rain forests in Indonesia and Brazil as huge tracts have been destroyed to make room for palm oil and sugar plantations.

Here in the U.S., one out of every three ears of corn is stuffed into a gas tank (by way of ethanol), causing not just food shortages abroad and high prices at home, but intensive increases in farming with all of the attendant environmental problems (soil erosion, insecticide pollution, water consumption, etc.).

This to prevent drilling on an area in the Arctic one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport that leaves untouched a refuge one-third the size of Britain.

It would seem that the democratic leadership (I use the term very loosely) might realize that they could negotiate drilling offshore and in ANWR in exchange for a comprehensive, long term set of government incentives for alternative energy production. The time is right, oil prices are stratospherically high, and the public mood is in favor. Instead of going home for the summer, the Democratic congress should work with the Republicans to craft a comprehensive energy bill – now!

Of course, that’s not happening.

But help is on the way. Barack Obama was against domestic drilling (he is in favor of inflating your tires, however) until three days ago (when his polling indicated that this position was untenable). Now, it appears that he’s flip-flopped on the subject. The Washington Post reports:
Sen. Barack Obama suggested on Friday that he could accept an expansion of offshore oil drilling as long as it was part of a broader package of measures that would free the logjam of energy bills in Congress.

"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post. "If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well-thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage -- I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."

So. Why doesn’t the new leader of the Democractic party—Barack Obama— step in and demonstrate something he has yet to demonstrate in any context—leadership. Why doesn’t he publicly request that Nancy and Harry agree to a special session of Congress to address these critically important issues. After all, they're both his allies and members of his party.

But that would require action and leadership. It would require taking a concrete stand on a critically important issue. It would require goring some constiuency's ox and weathering the criticism that would surely follow. It would require the things that Presidents have to do.

Nah. Better to play politics with our nation’s energy future.


The Chicago Sun Times reports that the Obama campaign has a new ad that touts the Wind Fall Profits tax for Big Oil:
Obama's spot trumpets his proposal to revive a windfall profits tax on energy companies and asserts that McCain favors tax breaks for the oil industry.

''A windfall profits tax on big oil to give families a thousand-dollar rebate,'' an announcer in the ad says.

Obama has pushed for such a tax to fund $1,000 emergency rebate checks for consumers besieged by high energy costs.

I agree that Big Oil has been a net negative in this country's quest for energy independence, but taxing their profits for a hokey effort to buy votes via this ridiculous “rebate” will do nothing—absolutely NOTHING—to increase our supply of oil in the short term or lead us to energy independence in the longer term.

Wow, what leadership, what courage! Not exactly. More like a cynical political ploy that will not solve the problem.