Let's declare our energy independence

January 13, 2007|by Donald Currier

National security obviously requires strong, well-equipped military forces to defend against foreign assaults on our country and to protect our foreign policy objectives. Our military forces must be complemented, especially in this era of Islamic terrorism, by a well organized and managed homeland security component.

There is, however, another aspect of national security that is often overlooked. It is energy independence.

To better understand the national security implications, recall what happened last summer. Then the cartel-controlled price of a barrel of oil was $75. What if it had gone to $100 or even $200 per barrel? Or, even worse, suppose that access to Mideast oil was totally denied us?

You think it can't happen? In the mid- '70s, Mideast oil-producing nations, unhappy with our support of Israel, instituted an embargo. They cut off all oil deliveries to the U.S. from that area. One of the many effects of this oil cutoff was that we had to cancel all new pilot training in the Air Force, Navy, and Army for one year in order to save fuel for the combat forces! How could we have forgotten this chilling threat to our national security?


Is it possible that we could be shut out of Mideast oil again and suffer a far greater strategic shock? Think about a resurgent Iran, which shares a common border with a divided and militarily emasculated Iraq waiting like a ripe plum to be picked once we Americans leave.

The Iranians, who share a common religion with the Iraqi Shiites, would be able to control the distribution of about 25 percent of the entire world's supply of oil. Would they use this power to humble the "Great Satan"? Are you willing to bet our future that they wouldn't?

Right now we need the strongest possible presidential and congressional push - one that sets energy independence as a national priority, and that will be sustained by our leaders over the time it takes to achieve it!

We can't get there by a single approach. We need fuel conservation, but we also need oil and gas exploration in our own country. We need expanded exploitation of alternative fuels such as coal, biofuels and nuclear energy, and even more uncommon sources such as solar, wind and ocean tides. We need new vehicle and power plant designs that can use alternate fuels such as hydrogen and electric or battery power.

We need to adjust our priorities to insure that the government role is properly oriented to complement and not to supplement private business efforts. Today we seem to be concentrating on fuel development and production. An example is the farm subsidies for ethanol and other biofuel production. The fact is that the controlling issue in making alternative fuels available on a national scale is the distribution infrastructure.

To make my point, if any of you folks bought one of the 250,000 E-85 compatible cars Ford produced in 2006, where around here do you get your 85 percent ethanol fuel blend?

The big limitation on all future development of our energy resources is opposition by some environmentalists. One has to ask, just what do the environmentalists want? They claim they want to control emissions of harmful gasses to protect the planet, yet nuclear, wind, solar or ocean tides, for example, produce no emissions. But the environmentalists fight them all to different degrees and for different reasons.

It is high time that the federal government step in and make decisions as to what is in the common good. Some sanity as well as courage (political will) among elected officials must be brought to bear. We must put national security and environmental protection in a proper balance.

After all, how green must the grass be over our graves to satisfy the environmentalists?

Donald Currier is a Smithsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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