Playing politics with our energy independence

Playing politics with our energy independence

"We should insist upon action toward development of a national energy policy from each of our future political candidates."

Previously, I’ve mentioned that the U.S. is one of only a few large nations without a national energy policy. This lack of a national energy policy constantly hampers our country. Let me give you a concrete example.

I mentioned before that Nov. 1 was a very important date in the U.S., because Congress was scheduled to vote on H.R. 1938 to approve or reject Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project. This $7 billion project is designed to carry 500,000 barrels of oil per day 2,000 miles from the Northern tier of the U.S. and Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast. This pipeline will have a significant impact on our dependence on foreign sources of crude oil (it should allow replacement of significant Middle Eastern and Venezuelan crudes), and it will provide many needed jobs to bolster our economy. Could anyone logically oppose this project?

It seems environmentalists moved to delay the Nov. 1 vote by asking our government to require an environmental review of the project. According to the State Department, this review will take over a year to complete. So our country will lose a year in our efforts to become more energy independent because of the environmentalists’ actions.

These well-meaning environmentalists have created a serious dilemma for the president. Remember our prior discussions of unintended consequences? President Obama wanted to approve this pipeline to provide 20,000 needed jobs. He needs to produce new jobs to improve his chances being reelected. But the environmentalists, most of whom I assume are well-meaning liberals and Obama backers, forced him to delay the vote until after the 2012 elections to maximize his reelection chances. If he votes for the project, he loses liberal voters and if he vetoes the bill, he loses more moderate voters in the coming election. He can’t afford to lose either group of voters. The unintended consequence of the environmentalists and their lawyers is to set our efforts toward energy independence back significantly. The only way around this delay is for Transcanada to propose an alternate route for the pipeline at, I suppose, additional cost.

If we had a national energy policy, none of this would have to happen. We could address the vote on this pipeline on the basis of its merit, not its political ramifications. Issues this important to our national energy independence shouldn’t be political “footballs” to be tossed around until after the next election.

We should insist upon action toward development of a national energy policy from each of our future political candidates. We have wasted $500 million on poor investments in solar energy and a year on the Keystone XL pipeline project because of political maneuvering. In my mind this is a serious criminal offense. You can’t convince me that Transcanada, the developer of the Keystone XL project, hasn’t previously conducted an environmental impact study.

Shouldn’t our Department of Energy (DOE) have something to say about this situation? If we had a national energy policy, perhaps the DOE could provide value for the taxpayer dollars they’ve spent since the ’70s by policing this situation.

I think the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in need of controls—it seems to be interfering with virtually every project that is proposed, even if it hampers our country. The system is broken. In situations like this, EPA lawyers file suit on behalf of some local person(s) who probably doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of the actions. As a result, our courts and governments waste considerable time and money.

Let’s insist that the DOE takes the forefront in developing a national energy policy now. Then it should be placed in charge of the EPA so its actions will have to support our nation’s energy independence, not detract from it.

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