Friday, June 18, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Getting off Oil

In his speech from the Oval Office, President Obama united the nation. People on both the left and right hated it. It was amazing to see such unity in this nation again. However even in unity the people who hated his address have fallen into two camps. The ones that think it was too little too late, and the people who are mad because Obama didn’t apologize to BP because our gulf coast states ran into their oil spill.

I will address both these groups, the too little, too late crowd in this post and the pro-BP crowd on Sunday.

Critics have rightly pointed out that during this crisis Obama did the same thing as the 7 Presidents before him did told congress to fix it. This approach failed every time, so here are some things that Obama could do that will work.

Number 1:
In the upcoming 2011 budget, announce that he will veto it if it contains subsidies for oil companies. The US gives oil companies over $30 billion a year to “explore” in unsafe places like the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. The oil companies don’t need that money, period.

By stating the oil companies won’t be getting any more federal subsidies the congressmen who try to put those subsidies in would have to justify them to the voters. Progressives can’t justify giving people money to pollute and it would be hard for Conservatives to face the Teabaggers and say they want to give money to companies that don’t need it as they are screaming about the deficit quadrupling from Bush’s $1.4 Trillion to Obama’s $1.75 Trillion (I realize these numbers don’t make sense, but even the Teabaggers will understand cutting $30 billion helps reduce the deficit).

Number 2:
The US Government has 600,000 automobiles, Obama has issued an executive order for them to reduce petroleum use by 30% by 2020. Since they will replace these autos twice in that time this isn’t going far enough, he could change that order to 50% by 2020. An achievable goal.

Number 3:
Geothermal heating and cooling is a proven technology. With the stroke of a pen Obama could order all federal buildings to switch to Geothermal for heating and cooling (or some other form of renewable energy) by 2014. An achievable goal.

Number 4:
Oil independence is a matter of National Security; our last 8 Presidents have stated that and the Pentagon has stated that. The Military is aggressively seeking alternatives to oil in its operations. As Commander-in-Chief, Obama has the power to push them harder and to shift some funds for them to do this. He can also demand congress shift some of the R&D money we are using to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union to research on making the Military run on alternative fuels. After all we can’t attack a non-existent country if we don’t have the fuel to get there.

Number 5:
The federal government oversees the garbage in this country, even though it is handled at the local level. Garbage is a valuable resource in this country. Through waste gasification our garbage could produce 20% of our natural gas needs. The EPA has the power to force municipal garbage dumps to use this technology, and because in the long run this technology will generate money this could be financed through federal backed bonds as opposed the federal budget.

All these things could be done with little or no action by Congress, who have shown they can’t do anything about the Energy Crisis that we have been in since Nixon was in office.

Taking these actions alone will more than make up for our increasing demand for oil and start reducing the amount we use. With the purchasing power of the Federal Government committed to reducing our oil use companies will have no choice but to start researching more green technologies and it will create a positive feedback giving consumers new ways to save energy.

When people see that we can reduce our oil dependency with minimal changes to our lifestyles we might actually get congress to act after 40 years and 8 Presidents demanding they do something, and that will lead to a fantastic future.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

1 comment:

Stephanie Barr said...

Works for me, though I have to add that the too little too late crowd could do more to help the situation if, instead of just bitching, they would give up their SUVs and switch out light bulbs to compact florescents or LED bulbs (readily available everywhere now). We can't just wait for "everyone else" to do it for them

I know you already have done your part there.