Please take out a sheet of paper. Write a sentence or two that describes America’s energy policy.
I bet you are left with a blank page.
Obviously, energy is one of the biggest challenges we face. You might think any problem that huge would call for a national policy.
If you know what ours is, please let me know.
Truth is, our energy policy is that we have no policy.
We should drill for more oil.
No, we should drill less.
We should open more areas for drilling. In the Gulf, off our coasts, in Alaska, on government lands.
No, we should keep these areas sacred. We should put millions more acres off limits.
We should import more liquified natural gas.
No, we cannot allow those big LNG tankers near our coastline. Think of the sabotage possibilities.
Nuclear is the only way to go. Build more reactors.
Not on your life. We should close a few of the old ones.
New refineries. Build them on government lands if possible.
Nope. Write to your congressman to vote against that idea.
Ethanol, yes, yes, yes.
Ethanol, no, no, no.
Cut gasoline taxes for the summer. Is that what you would call an energy policy?
Punish those big oil companies.
No, this would be biting the hand that feeds us.
Tell OPEC to take a hike. Tell ‘em we won’t sell ‘em any more weapons.
Lousy idea. The Saudis have most of the money in the world now. Do you really think some other country won’t be happy to take some of it in return for weapons?
Use more coal. We’ll never run out.
What? That gunky stuff. Don’t tell me about scrubbers that let us burn it cleanly. Lot of propaganda.
Windmills. Let’s build windmills for as far as the eye can see.
Not in my line of vision, you don’t. You will ruin our hillsides and seacoasts. And you’ll wipe out millions of birds.
Conserve, conserve. Change the light bulbs. That is a national energy policy?
We have no energy policy for America. We have defense policies. We have tax policies. We have policies for dealing with the poor among us. But nothing much for energy, except for piecemeal bits.
We have no policy because we, the people, are divided. We have too little unity on the subject for politicians to create policies through government.
You cannot bake a cake without lots of ingredients. Politicians cannot create big programs without lots of factions joining. We have the factions all right. What we lack is the joining.
A stronger president could come up with policies and hold politicians feet to the fire. Johnson did this with civil rights and anti-poverty policies. Reagan did it with economic policies. When they jawboned, millions wrote to their congressguys and told them to get with the program.
Unfortunately when President Bush jawbones not many folks listen. His best ideas get ignored by media and voters.
Meanwhile, on this humongous challenge, our energy policy is that we got no policy.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.