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able energies and the expectation of the firstnew orders for nuclear power plants in over 25 years, oil, coal, and natural gas are none-theless projected to provide roughly the same86% share of the total U.S. primary energysupply in 2030 as they did in 2005…”
What Price “Energy Independence”?
Since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970sAmerican pundits and politicians have tire-lessly urged the nation to end its dependenceon foreign energy sources. The calls for “energy independence” have only grownlouder and more frequent since the terroristattacks of 2001, and they were endorsed byPresident George W. Bush who flatly statedin his 2006 State of the Union address:“America is addicted to oil, which is oftenimported from unstable parts of the world.”Regrettably, environmental groups believethis goal requires job-killing government regu-lations that will inflict long-term damage onthe U.S. economy and reliance on costly andunproven new technologies. Their pie-in-the-sky ideas are expensive and, if imple-mented, would do little to augment U.S. en-ergy supplies. Yet the mainstream mediauncritically echo the views of environmentalgroups that claim America’s energy prob-lems can be solved by installing millions of solar rooftop panels and micro windmills and planting fields of switch grass. Quick to chal-lenge the motives of industry groups, themedia seldom question the green groups thatlobby for higher energy taxes, want limits onindustrial and household carbon emissions,and demand the removal of energy-produc-ing dams said to threaten endangered spe-cies.Labor unions might be expected to rejectthis approach, but they too have bought intothe environmentalist view of “energy inde- pendence.” The AFL-CIO is eager to cementa political coalition against the Bush admin-istration, and unions like the United Steel-workers see prospects for job-creation-andunion-organizing-in many green policy pro- posals. (See the October 2006
,“The New Labor-Environmentalist Coalition:Blue and Green and Red All Over,” by RyanEllis, on the strategic alliance between theSierra Club and steelworkers.)In the post 9-11 world, almost every groupclaims to be an advocate for “energy inde- pendence,” but that’s because each definesthe concept to its own benefit.The Apollo Alliance for Good Jobs andClean Energy is an offshoot of the left-winggroup Campaign for America’s Future. Itsadvisory board is peppered with left-liberaland labor-backed officeholders and advo-cates, among them unsuccessful Californiagubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, NAACP chairman Julian Bond, Steel Work-ers president Leo Gerard and the Sierra Club’sexecutive director, Carl Pope. The Allianceslogan: “Three million new jobs. No depen-dence on foreign oil.”But industrial labor unions, neo-conserva-tive hawks and farm state Republicans havefigured out a way to work together to promote“energy independence,” which they arguewill save the environment, create jobs, pro-tect national security and support agricul-ture.In March 2005 the Apollo Alliance an-nounced that it would conduct “joint efforts”with the conservative-leaning Set AmericaFree Coalition. The Coalition’s members in-clude Frank Gaffney of the Center for Secu-rity Policy, Mideast expert Dr. Daniel Pipes,former CIA director James Woolsey, Repre-sentative Jack Kingston (R-GA), Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democra-cies, and former Republican presidential can-didate Gary Bauer. However, the Coalitionalso includes former Senators Tom Daschle(D-SD) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), andChafee’s successor, Senator SheldonWhitehouse (D-RI). The tag-line for SetAmerica Free is “Cut dependence on foreignoil. Secure America.”Set America Free urges Americans not tosettle for easy answers. When politicians blame Big Oil, voters should tell them that it’sforeign governments that control most oilreserves. And when politicians mouth sup- port for alternative fuels to generate electric-ity, Set America Free urges voters to “remindthem that unlike in the 1970s, today only 2%of U.S. electricity is generated from oil, andthat most of our oil is consumed in the trans- portation sector - a good reason to encour-age plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”Then there’s the Energy Security Leader-ship Council, a group of retired military offic-ers and corporate chiefs. It issued a state-ment in December calling for significantlytougher CAFE fuel efficiency standards, withthe goal of making America less dependenton foreign oil. The group is co-chaired byformer General P.X. Kelley, who was the top-ranked officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, andFrederick W. Smith, chief executive officer of FedEx Corp.Lawmakers have responded to such calls.In the 109th Congress RepresentativeKingston introduced H.R. 4409, the proposed“Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Se-curity Act,” a bill combining regulations andtax incentives to encourage automakers, farm-ers and consumers to reduce oil consump-tion by 20% in 20 years. In the House, 22 of its 26 original co-sponsors were Republi-cans. Kingston, whose home state is a major producer of peanuts, also supports using peanuts to produce biodiesel fuel.A companion measure, S. 2025, was intro-duced in the Senate by Indiana DemocratEvan Bayh. Five of its ten Senate co-spon-sors were Republicans, including Alabama’sJeff Sessions, Sam Brownback of Kansas,and Minnesota’s Norm Coleman. Said DeronLovaas of the NRDC, “This bill specifies theends but leaves flexible the means.” He re-gretted that the bill did not mandate the