The need to become energy independent is absolute, since America’s increasing reliance on foreign oil threatens its national and economic security like never before.
Skyrocketing fuel prices threaten millions of jobs, and petro dollars flow from the United States to countries that wouldn’t shed a tear over another 9/11.
Because no refineries or nuclear plants have been constructed in over three decades, one leader in particular has been attempting to reduce America’s insatiable appetite for imported oil. Last year, he opened up over 500,000 square miles of coastal waters to oil and gas exploration — the first time that’s happened in over 20 years.
He summed up why: “The bottom line: Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we're going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel.”
This politician also said, “I will tap our natural-gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power."
It’s no surprise this was a “bitter disappointment for environmentalists and Democrats,” as a press report noted.
The surprise is that this leader is Barack Obama.
Obama’s actions, especially pushing nuclear power, arranging loan guarantees for two new plants,- are akin to a conservative Republican calling for a handgun ban. The Democratic Party has long been captive to radical environmentalists who view Obama’s efforts as nothing short of treasonous.
Since these folks label Obama’s actions a “betrayal,” one would think the GOP would embrace the president on this traditionally Republican issue.
From the campaign to the 2010 State of the Union, where energy independence was a major theme, the standard Republican responses have been, "Well, he really doesn’t believe that," and "His plan doesn’t go far enough."
Far enough? From what? The GOP policy of America bent over a Middle Eastern barrel?
Even the tea parties are not immune. The president recently toured a manufacturing plant touting his energy policy. The largest tea party in the region protested, criticizing Obama for “discouraging domestic oil production” by “ignoring the necessity to drill for oil in our vast national reserves.”
Hey, never let facts get in the way of the truth.
The intransigence of the Republicans to run on one of their core issues is incomprehensible. And while energy independence should never be partisan, it is clearly obtainable only if the GOP/Obama version is executed.
Alternative energy sources are important, but will never produce anything close to the nation’s needs. The indisputable fact is that black gold, natural gas, and nuclear fuel will always be the mainstay.
So what has the GOP done, both when it had majorities and after losing them? Nothing noteworthy.
George W. Bush could have easily opened the ANWR in Alaska in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but didn’t. Instead, he took seven years to call for lifting the offshore drilling moratorium put in place by the first President Bush. Too little, too late.
During a radio interview I conducted last year, a Republican congressman said he couldn’t introduce a drilling bill because he was “in the minority.” Sorry, but Civics 101 says otherwise. Any bill can be introduced; the issue is making it out of committee.
The political leverage would’ve come from pitting the obstructionist Democratic Congress against its own president. But that never happened.
And then-Minority Leader John Boehner’s response? Nothing but a partisan rebuke. “It's long past time for this administration to stop delaying American energy production off all our shores and start listening to the American people who want an ‘all of the above’ [energy] strategy,” he said. But Boehner’s rubber never met the road. Not when the GOP controlled the Congress and White House. Not when they were in the minority. And not now.
Where were the tea party folks and Obama-bashers when the Republicans did nothing to achieve energy independence, despite holding all the cards? Selective memory is the hallmark for losing credibility.
Is the president’s plan perfect? Of course not. The rigs in the Gulf sit idle, moratoriums still exist, and drilling in the ANWR isn’t on the agenda. But it’s inexcusable that his willingness to explore energy independence has been met with a Republican brick wall.
Whether it’s partisanship, a GOP tactic to win next year, or simply the insular nature of Congress, the inability to make energy independence the No. 1 issue is catastrophic. The huge growth platform it creates is the ONLY way for America to solve its budgetary woes. Yet nothing happens, so the nation plunges further into the red, endangering Americans in unprecedented fashion.
The ugly reality is that the USA may soon stand for United States of Arabia.
Doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and television commentator who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
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