The President has now restated and reformulated the energy plan that got derailed by economic, political and other circumstances. It took an earthquake to get it back on track.
Last Wednesday at Georgetown University, Mr. Obama set a goal of reducing foreign oil imports by one-third. It was a strong speech, if not a call to arms. From what I can tell, unless he mounts a vigorous, noisy, public campaign against Republican opposition to nearly all his proposals, the program won’t happen.
It should happen, but it’s not enough. Every president since Nixon has promised to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Obama said imports were trending down, a statement disputed by some. To achieve independence, he wants to increase oil and gas production, make more fuel-efficient vehicles, impose more stringent CAFE standards, and encourage biofuel production. All U.S. government fleet vehicles, over 600,000, will be green (hybrid or EV) by 2015.
But there was really nothing about reducing consumption, like instituting a gasoline tax, and we heard much comment from industry sources to the effect that all this had been said before. They want more offshore drilling and harvesting of abundant natural gas supplies.
The Japanese earthquake and ongoing nuclear disaster, combined with the Middle East’s crises, have also made Mr. Obama’s energy plans highly dubious. The Republicans want to strip the EPA of any power to regulate global-warming emissions (greenhouse gases), and there will be House and Senate votes on that next week. Instead of nuclear, many (including some Democrats) seem to be frozen with fear and have gone back to advocating coal.
As others have said, a transformative energy plan would take an effort dwarfing our 1960s man-on-the-moon space program. Such an effort might get the job done, but the political prospects of it happening are just about zero. Mr. Obama is doing what other presidents have done, but the situation grows more dire with every day’s passing.
For now, he’s using a teacup to put out the fire.
Is the Obama energy plan an effective solution to the U.S. energy/climate predicament?