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Bill Richardson: A Plan for American Energy Independence

What this will take is an Apollo-like program focused on new technologies and renewable energy resources.

IF THREE-DOLLAR-a gallon gasoline hurt our family budgets in the days after Hurricane Katrina, what will $10 a gallon do to our pocketbooks?

Unfortunately, that astronomical price is not so farfetched. World economic leaders recently mapped out several scenarios that would send oil prices spiraling, including civil unrest in Nigeria, instability in Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, as well as rapid growth in demand from China and India. These are not remote possibilities; they are probable developments that we must plan for before it is too late.

America’s lifeblood is its energy supply, and foreign energy dependence makes American homes and businesses vulnerable. Our economy and our national security are hurt by the fact that we have grown way too dependent on foreign energy, and way too dependent on oil as our major energy source.

This is not a new problem — what the Bush Administration calls our “addiction to oil” took years to set in. But, the fact is that America’s reliance on foreign oil has steadily increased to 65 percent under President Bush, not decreased. We need to declare independence... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
IF THREE-DOLLAR-a gallon gasoline hurt our family budgets in the days after Hurricane Katrina, what will $10 a gallon do to our pocketbooks?

Unfortunately, that astronomical price is not so farfetched. World economic leaders recently mapped out several scenarios that would send oil prices spiraling, including civil unrest in Nigeria, instability in Iraq and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, as well as rapid growth in demand from China and India. These are not remote possibilities; they are probable developments that we must plan for before it is too late.

America’s lifeblood is its energy supply, and foreign energy dependence makes American homes and businesses vulnerable. Our economy and our national security are hurt by the fact that we have grown way too dependent on foreign energy, and way too dependent on oil as our major energy source.

This is not a new problem — what the Bush Administration calls our “addiction to oil” took years to set in. But, the fact is that America’s reliance on foreign oil has steadily increased to 65 percent under President Bush, not decreased. We need to declare independence from foreign oil, and we need to do it now.

What this will take is an Apollo-like program focused on new technologies and renewable energy resources. This program will help foster an American-made energy economy and create new, high paying jobs here, not send billions of dollars a year to oil despots in the Middle East.

With focused effort and ingenuity, the United States put a man on the moon within a decade of setting its mind to it. We can do the same with energy independence but it will take more than just domestic oil production. We cannot drill our way out of this problem. We use 25 percent of the world’s oil and gas, but we have just 3 percent of its supplies. No one can make those curves cross. And we must implement a comprehensive energy plan, not just pop holes into every prairie, plain, tundra and shoreline — no matter if those pockets would have any significant effect on our national energy needs.

Instead of drilling everything everywhere, regardless of ecological impacts or the needs of future generations, we should require that our transportation fuels — 60 percent of our oil use — include a large percentage of American-made, renewable biofuels. We should redirect oil and gas subsidies to alternative energy sources and replace 25 percent of the federal government’s 600,000-vehicle fleet with clean hybrids. We should encourage energy-saving “green building” techniques that could reduce energy consumption by more than half. And we should provide long-term — ten-year — extensions of renewable energy production tax credits to encourage the development of the nation’s ample wind and solar resources.

We’ve taken these steps in New Mexico. In the past three years, we’ve worked hard to make New Mexico the nation’s Clean Energy State. In fact, no other state has made as many advances in clean energy policy as we have over this period. And I’m proud to say that people now look to us as a leader on clean and renewable energy. We have succeeded because people want energy diversification, they want clean energy, and they want the jobs and growth that will come from replacing $250 billion a year of foreign oil with clean, American-made energy.

New Hampshire families know how important this is.

They remember the federal government’s failure to fully fund the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) specifically designed to help working families stay warm and pay their energy bills — especially during long New Hampshire winters.

Not helping to keep our neediest families warm was unconscionable, so I acted quickly to provide home heating price relief to New Mexicans. I knew it was wrong for families struggling to make ends meet to have to worry if their children and their elderly parents would stay warm during the winter — even if those in Washington did not.

The causes of our current energy crisis span the globe, but its solutions start right here at home. It’s time we change our national priorities and put the interests and needs of the American people first.

No more handouts for big oil companies with record profits, but rather tax breaks for energy companies that invest in ethanol production, new wind and solar technologies and networks of hydrogen filling stations to spur new energy efficient automobile production.

No more federal blindness of skyrocketing oil and gas prices, but rather federal investigations into price gouging and price fixing. And most importantly, no more sticking our head in the sand — energy independence is a national security issue and we should treat it as such.

Leaders know how to challenge this nation to new and sometimes difficult goals and then provide the resources, vision and passion to meet those challenges.

This is a time for real leadership. It’s a time for us to step up and declare our independence from foreign oil.

Bill Richardson served as U.S. Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the United Nations and is currently Governor of New Mexico.


Source: http://www.unionleader.com/...

MAR 18 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1778-bill-richardson-a-plan-for-american-energy-independence
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