by Tom Chasm
President Bush said Monday May 5th, "It's been a while in the making and it's going to be a while that we solve the problem." Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," "We're too dependent on foreign oil and we need to be exploring more at home." Bush said the rising cost of gas "troubles me a lot" because it is "like a tax on the working people."
Obama and McCain and almost all other politicians looking for your vote are talking about the economy because according to their polls that’s what the public is most concerned about right now. And near the top of the economic list of woes is the price of gas and our dependence on foreign oil. It’s killing us. Everything is tied to it. We need it to get to work and to look for work. We need it to get the kids to school, to go to the grocery store, to go anywhere. And once we get to the grocery store and every other store, we have to pay inflated prices because shipping costs keep going up. And the products that are made from petroleum by-products, and there are lots, are costing more because the price of oil keeps going up. I know this isn’t news to you. So what are we going to do?
Let’s say a miracle happens and the oil companies decide they will lower the price. We’ll breathe a sigh of relief and maybe party for a minute or two, but we can’t forget that oil is not a renewable resource and will eventually be no more. We have to look beyond oil – now. We have to continue developing alternative energy technologies that are renewable or we will always be looking for something to take oil’s place. Coal and gas are going to run out too. We’ve developed some band-aid remedies but true solutions are still to come.
As Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, declared: “It is much cheaper and much less deadly to conserve energy and increase efficiency than to send troops to protect oil interests in the Middle East.... While our soldiers in Iraq are fighting for many reasons, we cannot divorce what is happening in the Middle East from our dependence on oil.”
It’s clear to almost everyone that we have to push for a technological revolution. Our inventory of natural resources is running out. I’m seeing a rising environmental conscience developing in all of America. With both political parties agreeing upon the fact that we need to change our course, there are differences of opinions as to the approach for solving this dilemma. Generally speaking, Republicans see the solution being one where we minimize the extent of the damage we create in our stride toward progress. Keep exploring for oil and be careful to not create too big a mess. The Democrats on the other hand tend to be more protective and speak of untouchable lands and see a future with nature not destroyed by the drive for a solution and wealth. Both parties agree that conservation and increased efficiency are essential right now while we figure out a more permanent resolution. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle – one that embraces a balance between nature and progress. Wind turbines and solar panels harness natural energy available now, but they have to go somewhere. The “not in my backyard” argument still works to keep these “energy farms” off potentially valuable coastlines and near housing developments for the time being. But we have deserts and plains where they will work. And we don’t need to spoil the Gulf of Mexico or the pristine wilderness of Alaska to drill for more oil that will only delay the ultimate need for alternative options.
My hope is that we can continue to develop and progress toward an answer that leaves us less dependent on foreign oil; an answer that finds a way to develop alternative energy resources while still being careful with the environment. There is a marked difference between clear cutting and development. I’m confident that the technology will be there to solve our energy needs. I’m not confident that our politicians and the oil companies will get out of the way and let it happen. Listen to your candidates this election year. It is way past time for a different approach to the energy challenge we are facing.