I promised in my analysis of the 2008 presidential election that, “When [President Barack Obama (D)] walks down the wrong paths, I will call him out. When he walks down the right ones, I will support him.” After getting to call him out quite a lot regarding the monstrosity of a health care bill he signed into law last week, today I get to support him—at least a little.
President Obama announced today that his energy plan will open up sections of the Gulf of Mexico and Virginia coasts for offshore oil and natural gas drilling, although it will also impose unnecessary restrictions on drilling in Alaska. ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ is not the panacea that some on the political right have made it out to be, but a speedy increase in domestic oil production is indeed an urgent necessity in the short term while we try to end our dependence on fossil fuels all-together in the long term. Alternative fuels (nuclear power for our electricity; electric and hydrogen fuel-cell for our cars) are the long term solution for both economic and environmental reasons. Ending our reliance on foreign oil, however, is an urgent economic and national security concern that can and should happen well before we can completely abandon fossil fuels.
A proper, logical energy plan starts with a speedy ramp-up in domestic oil production to provide for our short-term energy needs—gasoline, heating oil, etc.—while major private and public investment goes toward building new nuclear power plants, research and development of hydrogen fuel-cell, implementation of a hydrogen refilling infrastructure, and development of new battery technologies. This is, essentially, the ‘Lexington Project’ proposed by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) during his 2008 presidential campaign. I am quite pleased that Obama has chosen to follow a similar path, even if he seems to have done so (based on the curious timing) to stem the political fallout from his unpopular new health care law.
In case you’re wondering, the Constitution does not explicitly authorize federal control of energy policy so, under normal circumstances, this would be an issue for the states. However, a reduction or elimination of our dependence on foreign oil is a national security issue. Much of our oil money is going to unfriendly and enemy nations and, at least indirectly, to Islamic terrorist groups. The Constitution assigns responsibility for national security issues to the federal government so, unlike the health care bill, energy policy is a federal issue . . . at least for now.