Friday, July 11, 2008

Energy Security Impacts National Security

Written 17 June

Energy security is part of our national security posture. It has direct ties to our nation’s capacity to fight an expanded conflict should the need arise. If petroleum is going to be held hostage, it is in our national security interests to develop alternative sources of energy with which we can power the machine that defends us.

There are also security consequences to the billions of oil dollars pouring out of our nation to strengthen the economies of others, some of whom work actively against us.

Additionally, if the economy falters or fails as part of a domino chain started with our being held financially hostage by those who control the world’s energy and because we refused to develop our own, we could become incapable of funding our military.

It may be hard to imagine, but it could get much worse if we continue to wander aimlessly down the energy policy road and allow ourselves to be turned away by the many obstacles artificially placed in our path that prevent us from utilizing every source of available energy.

The current “pain at the pump” we feel, the shock we endure when opening our electric bills, and the blast received with the propane bill could realistically just be the tip of the iceberg.

But we have only ourselves to blame. We’ve painted ourselves into this corner.

So how do we find our way out?

We have to develop a comprehensive, common sense energy policy which removes the obstacles to energy production. We also need to sweep away those who imagine every reason to block potential energy sources, such as:

We can’t develop wind energy because some people don’t want industrial windmills in their area. Evidently, they’re unsightly. Besides, bird enthusiasts are concerned they might kill birds.

We can’t develop hydro-electric power because fish might suffer, as would other species dependent upon specific flows within a waterway.

We can’t drill off our own coasts because we’re worried about beaches, fish, and seals. But of course, China can drill off our shores.

We can’t extract shale oil from the Rocky Mountains because the machinery is inconsistent with the panoramic views.

We can’t convert coal to oil because of air quality and anti-mining advocates.

We can’t drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because those few acres would be missed by the caribou and polar bears.

We can’t use corn for ethanol because hunger advocates are concerned with its impact on the price of food. They’re probably also some of the same people crying the loudest about greenhouse gases from petroleum combustion. Ironic, isn’t it?

We can’t pursue large-scale solar power networks because they’re unsightly and they confuse birds.

We can’t pursue nuclear energy because at least a hundred different groups stand frothing at the mouth to attack and block it for an endless list of reasons.

If we pursue wood chips for ethanol, tree-huggers will cry out for the trees, switch grass will be demonized for animals harmed when it’s cut, and oil from bacterial excretions is already being assaulted for creating huge reservoirs of bacteria which might contaminate everything under the sun.

Thousands of people stand in the way of progress for the millions, telling them “why not,” yet none of them offers a single “here’s how” solution.

And the best solution Congress can come up with is to propose more pain by taking more out of our pockets through raising taxes on currently available energy, and to charge windfall profit taxes on those companies which supply our energy. It is a plan that failed when implemented under President Carter, one that financially harmed Americans and accelerated an energy shortage, one that will fail again if tried.

Something’s got to give. Something will give, but the longer we delay the more catastrophic the result may be.

Common sense and prioritizing people ahead of special interests need injected into how we function as a nation in this arena, and many others for that matter.

Sure, I too dream of an energy panacea with a clean, renewable, unobtrusive form of energy upon which we can all depend one day. But that’s the dream.

In the mean time, the dream will not fill my tank, light, heat, or cool my house, decrease my bills, or fuel the machines which help preserve our freedom.

It is a perfect example of what my Grandpa Sharp always said, "You can dream in one hand and crap in another. See which one fills up first."

Although significant effort should be made to achieve the dream, until then, we need to be able to pursue and develop every currently available source of energy for personal use, public consumption, and national security.

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