Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Obama’s Energy Policy

I have been a strong supporter of Barack Obama for quite some time, and I think that overall, he’s doing an excellent job as President. However, dating back to mid-2008, there is one issue that has bothered me, and that is his energy policy.

The key to this policy is energy independence, and for a variety of reasons, it makes sense conceptually. The less we rely on the Middle East for our energy demands, the more likely we will be to guarantee our own security and protect our economy. The problem is that the President has adopted a sort of throw-caution-to-the-wind posture, embracing options for “clean coal,” nuclear power, and oil drilling. In fact, just prior to the latest environmental disaster in the Gulf, Obama had approved a plan to relax restrictions on offshore drilling, leading some to believe that the “drill baby drill” people had gotten to him.

While he has reversed that policy in the wake of the BP debacle, it’s not clear whether Obama is ready to reconsider his approach. The truth is that while the BP oil spill is a terrible nightmare, it pales in comparison to the damage that could be inflicted by a nuclear mishap, and there is very little evidence that “clean coal” is any better for the environment than any other kind of coal.

What eludes me in all his tough talk against the oil companies is why Obama has not put an all-out effort into increased, safe, carbon-free and waste-free energy options such as wind, water, and solar. Let’s face it, if any of those options cease to exist—if the sun, for example, should burn out—we will all be dead anyway.

So, why not take the equivalent of the money we spent on the war in Iraq and spend it on developing cost-efficient solar power, with effective battery solutions for storing that power? In Bush’s case, the answer was simple—he didn’t want to buck the oil companies, which were among his greatest financial supporters. But Obama is supposed to be different—a man of change who is independent of the big oil money.

In the long run, if we can harness the power of the sun, wind, and water, and store it successfully to draw upon as needed, we will permanently solve our energy concerns and become truly energy-independent.

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