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Bush encounters the energy crisis
By Nicholas Sanchez
Let's see here. For the past few months, Californians have been lugging
flashlights along with their briefcases and lunches to work because of
rolling blackouts. People all over the country - this writer especially
-- have felt an extra pinch paying their bill at the gas station. And
New Yorkers are bracing themselves for conditions similar to their counterparts
in the Golden State.
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush and his advisers (led by Vice President
Dick Cheney) have looked at the Clinton Administration's handling of energy
policy, which was heavy on the conservation side and light on the supply
side. The grown-ups now running the government realize that there is a
very real crisis in progress with regard to U.S. energy policy. In response
to this crisis, the Bush Administration has submitted a proposal that
will not produce any short-term miracles, but should provide long-term
solutions. Naturally, this has caused the Democrats and their environmentalist
friends to go nuts.
First of all, the Administration has not kicked conservation to the side. Vice President Cheney has been quite candid on this matter and said that their new policies will not be consumption-driven. Nevertheless, the White House will continue to push some for the development of "fuel-efficient" vehicles and other energy efficient programs. Of course, whenever the Executive Branch offers any such "encouragement", they ultimately end up costing consumers more. You would think that this would thrill folks on the left.
What really has the other side bouncing off the walls is Bush's plan to diversify our energy supplies. The harsh reality there is an energy shortage in the U.S. The reason there is a shortage is because there is a great demand for it. We all enjoy ducking into our offices to cool off on hot summer days. Weekends provide a great opportunity for jumping into our cars, cranking the air-conditioning, and going on a "road trip." And despite all of the failed nostrums of the previous Democratic Administration, Americans are consuming more and more energy -- at an increased rate of about 1.7 per cent annually for the past twenty years, as was recently reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The President is aware of this reality and is working to enact policies that will stop the energy shortages by making the United States less dependent on foreign oil. Anyone who thinks that the situation in the Middle East is any more stable than it was at the time of the Gulf War should seriously consider getting their head examined. With all of the new technologies developing, there is no reason that we cannot start exploring environmentally clean ways to get energy here on our own lands.
In any case, we should all appreciate the initiatives the Bush Administration is putting forth. We should appreciate the fact that Bush's people realize that if we were to continue the path of an energy policy that was based solely on conservation, we would all be sitting at home in the dark in a few months. After all, of all 50 states in the U.S., guess which one has some of the most strident conservation policies and ranks 47th nationally in energy consumption? Give up? The answer is California.
Nicholas Sanchez is the Free Congress Foundation's Director of Development.
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