National energy policy should benefit our country, not the oil industry
For much of this month the United States Senate will be embroiled in debate on the contentious Bush-Cheney energy plan, which would reverse environmental protection for many sensitive areas, the most prominent of which is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In the course of this debate and decision process, the Senate should carefully consider a number of significant facts: 1. The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world population, currently consumes more than one quarter of the world’s petroleum production. 2. To supply this demand, the United States imports over 50 percent of its petroleum. 3. Petroleum reserves within the United States amount to only 3 percent of the world’s known petroleum reserves. 4. The petroleum reserves estimated to lie within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could supply about 3 percent of the United States’ consumption for approximately 20 years, but could not be brought on line before 2010. 5. It has been conservatively estimated that a combination of economically achievable energy conservation and alternative energy measures could reduce our petroleum needs by 10 percent. 6. Protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were granted that status after careful study and for good and solid reasons.
These facts point to a number of what should be obvious conclusions. With only 3 percent of the world’s known reserves, but using over 25 percent of world production, it is ludicrous to believe that the United States can ever become totally independent of foreign oil, unless we drastically alter our use of energy and/or our lifestyle. The 3 percent of our needs potentially available from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is insufficient reason to justify the risk of significant damage to one of the last undisturbed special places on the planet, especially when conservation and alternative fuel measures could reduce our oil needs by three times that much. If we adopted conservation and alternative fuel technologies to reduce our oil consumption by 10 percent, it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 20 percent, while at the same time reducing our discharge of pollutants into the atmosphere and reducing our balance of payments deficit.
But the logic of these arguments has obviously had little if any impact on Vice-president Cheney’s energy task force which drafted the Bush Administration’s energy policy. Of course, what else would you expect from oil-man Cheney sitting down with a selected group of oilmen cronies who will obviously come forth with an energy policy favorable to the oil industry? There was no representation for other viewpoints among this group and virtually no mention of conservation or alternative energy sources in their recommended policy. President Bush has added relatively meaningless mention of conservation and alternative energy sources in his comments on his and Cheney’s energy policy, but his budget reduces government funding for the conservation and alternative energy programs.
The oil industry is clearly in the business of producing and selling oil. It should come as no surprise then that they would take a dim view of any such suggestions as conservation and alternate energy sources which would reduce our demand for oil. Is it any wonder that the Government Accounting Office is suing Vice-president Cheney for the transcript of the meetings of the oil-industry dominated energy task force? And is it any wonder that he is fighting tooth and nail to avoid having to disclose the deals that there is a suspicion may have been made behind closed doors?
A majority of the House of Representatives has voted to approve the administration’s energy proposal. It is now up to the Senate to prevent the oil industry’s agenda from becoming the law of the land.
The Administration seems hell-bent on extracting every bit of oil and gas out of our reserves as fast as possible. You would think that what was obvious to 16-year old Cambri Crow (Letter to the Editor, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, Feb. 25, 2002) would have occurred to some of the great minds in our government; namely, why wouldn’t we be smart to conserve our limited oil reserves for future emergency needs by importing oil from those who have it until their supplies are exhausted?
But don’t expect too much from our elected officials, if a letter I received from Senator Wayne Allard is any indication. In response to my urging him to support conservation and alternative energy sources over drilling in Alaska, he told me that those ideas are fine as “temporary” measures, but we need a “permanent solution” to our petroleum needs, such as drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Duh!
Please write or call our two Senators and urge them to carefully examine the logic (or lack thereof), and the motivation, of those who have framed the Bush-Cheney energy plan, and ask them to support an energy policy which benefits the future of our country over one which serves only the selfish interests of the oil industry.
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