Forget Cheap Oil; the U.S. Needs Energy Independence.
First, we must become clear as a nation that our goal is energy independence, not cheap gasoline. (Cheap gasoline, to a great extent, is making us more dependent and more vulnerable.) To be energy independent, we must be willing to make some changes in our lifestyle. Doing so will involve some sacrifice, but it will not in the long run mean a a lower quality a life. (In fact, if we don't make some changes, our nation might cease to exist, which is a lousy quality of life, indeed.)
Second, we must forget partisan ideologies and use an agressive strategy that combines conservation with aggressive domestic production of all types of energy.
Conservation is both a short-term and long-term fix. In a crunch, always accompanied by price pressure, Americans have proven they can reduce their use of energy over the short-term by changing habits and over the medium-term by improving the energy efficiency of their transportation, buildings, and appliances. Conservation can also be created and increased by government pressure; for example, by increasing MPG standards on automobile fleets, reducing speed limits, and changing zoning laws and code requirements to encourage more walkable environments and more efficient use of energy in buildings.
Domestic Production of energy needs to be increased. All types of energy. Fossil fuels, sustainable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, biofuels), even nuclear (maybe).
- Increasing sustainable energy, especially decentrailized systems such as solar and wind, is a no-brainer in a world of terrorism. The downside is the capital investment require, but the goal--energy independence--justifies government encouragement, including but not limited to subsidies and tax benefits. For example, why shouldn't local governments in sun belt regions require--or at least encourage with incentives--all new construction to be be built with on-the-grid battery backed-up solar systems? Housing prices would be higher, but utillity bills would drastically be reduced. Utilities, substantially supported by these solar systems, could drastically reduce their use of fossil fuels, ideally to the point of using them as backup sources of electricity. An abundance of available electrical energy might make electrical transportation systems viable again.
- Increasing fossil fuel production, not popular with environmentalists and liberals, is also necessary for security. We need to drill in the Anwar, drill of the Florida coast, drill off the coast of California. While fossil fuels are not desirable from an environmental point of view, they (especially oil) are currently necessary, especially for transportation. They also allow utility companies to even out their provision of electricity when the sun doesn't shine, the wind doesn't blow, and the water doesn't flow quickly enough to meet demand. The environmental impact of drilling for oil is not as severe as it was years ago and can be paid for in a variety of ways. Mining for coal, shale, and other fossil fuels is problemmatical environmentally; while those problems need to be addressed, in the interests of energy independence, they should not prohibit production altogether.
- Increasing biofuel production, such as ethanol and methane. There are environmental and efficiency concerns with ethanol production, among others. However, even if they are inefficient, biofuels can help us achieve energy independence if their production can be done within a closed domestic loop. (We're told that most of the gasoline burned in Brazil is derived from plants.)
- Nuclear energy is problemmatical. The upside is that nuclear plants produce no operational greenhouse gasses, no small benefit in a world of global warming. However, there are other risks associated with managing spent fuel and protecting the plants from accidents and terrorism. In fact, there is no comfortable way to manage the nuclear waste generated by these plants. While the risk of accidents is low, they have happened and they are devastating, a fact that makes a nuclear plant a tasty target for terrorists. For those reasons, the coyotes would focus on other solutions to energy independence. Wile E.