Energy Policy That Can Deliver

Article excerpt

Byline: Reid Detchon, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

As oil prices hit $55 per barrel and set records, and analysts forecast an even higher spike to $60 soon, the lack of an effective, long-term energy policy is an increasingly costly problem for the U.S. economy and national security. But this situation is equally an opportunity if we act responsibly, unleashing American ingenuity to set a new direction for our nation and the world.

We need a purposeful, strategic energy policy that will address three great challenges:

(1) The danger to political and economic security posed by the world's dependence on oil.

(2) The risk to the global environment from climate change, caused primarily by fossil fuel combustion.

(3) Finally, the lack of access by the world's poor to modern energy services, agricultural opportunities, and other basics needed for economic advancement.

By addressing these challenges, new energy industries will emerge, with an explosion of new jobs and economic growth.

Work must begin in the United States, the world's largest energy consumer. Public and private leadership is needed to put together the technological innovation and political will to transform how we produce and use energy. Through our leadership, we can help the global community do the same.

Our energy policy must start by addressing our transportation sector's reliance on oil: Two-thirds of the oil Americans consume goes into the tanks of their cars, trucks, and buses.

We can progress enormously by promoting development and manufacture of advanced vehicles. Hybrid cars that run on gasoline and electricity generated by braking are already in the marketplace. But, unfortunately, U.S. automakers are behind their Japanese counterparts in seizing this market, and 1 in 7 American jobs is tied to the auto industry. America needs to help its manufacturing plants retool to produce hybrid vehicles, and provide U.S. consumers a significant purchase incentive.

Clean alternative fuels, produced in the United States, must also be part of the solution. We can encourage increased development of farm-based fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. New technologies promise to cut their costs and increase production. This would reduce U.S. energy dependence, cut greenhouse gas emissions, give farmers new economic opportunities and stem the costly, counterproductive flow of agricultural subsidies.

Renewable fuels and wind power can create jobs and save consumers money. …