Several events from the past couple of weeks once again make this fact appallingly clear: The Texas oil man in the White House is way behind the public when it comes to planning an energy future that's good for us and the planet -- and not just good for his pals in the fossil fuels biz. Of note:
-- On July 14, Bush lifted a presidential ban on drilling off U.S. coasts. His father put the moratorium in place by executive order in 1990, and it was extended to 2012 by President Clinton.
-- On July 23, Teamsters union General President Jim Hoffa announced at a press conference that the brotherhood is pulling out of the coalition that supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
-- On July 24, the collision of a barge and an oil tanker on the Mississippi River near New Orleans spilled 420,000 gallons of oil and polluted nearly 98 miles of the waterway, reminding us of the 7 million gallons that were spilled in the Mississippi and nearby waterways after Katrina.
How does it all add up?
I was there at the press conference in Oakland, California, on Wednesday when Jim Hoffa summed it up: "We are not going to drill our way out of the energy problems we are facing -- not here and not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," he said. "We must find a long-term approach that breaks our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the development of alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power."
It's mind-blowing just how long it take the Bush administration to look beyond what's good for its campaign contributors -- like Big Oil -- and act instead on what's good for us all in the long run.
If adding new offshore oil drilling would give us a break at the gas pump, then it might make sense as a short-term price saving measure. But even President Bush and Big Oil admit it won't because any new oil would take years and years to come online. And it's definitely not a long-term solution; it simply perpetuates failed energy policies.
So what do we need instead?
In the short run: immediate relief for Americans who are stuck with the results of a failed energy policy that leaves us way too dependent on foreign oil and completely at the mercy of Big Oil, which is making record windfall profits at a time the rest of us get the wind knocked out of us every time we fill up. Average Americans need an economic stimulus package that includes energy rebates.
In the long run, we need America to reassert itself as the world leader and develop new clean energy sources. Enough with Big Oil controlling our destinies. We need out-of-the box thinking -- like Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel's
incentives program and his call for choice at the pump -- natural gas -- which would give us a choice of fuels for our cars so Exxon doesn't have us over a barrel. or businessman T. Boone Pickens, who sees the writing on the wall and wants to invest in American solutions -- wind, as well as cars that run on natural gas.
Drilling our coasts, the Arctic refuge, and other untouched places is not the answer to the question about energy generation for the future. That sad fact is that our nation's chief is not only failing to lead -- he's moving us backward.
Image credit::US Department of Interior, A few examples of offshore rigs,drilling and production platforms. Left to right: onshore platform; fixed platform; jack-up rig; semi-submersible; drill ship; tension leg platform.