Energy sources, where now – where tomorrow

Published Brownsville Herald August 24, 2008

I am beginning to look at political issues as right or wrong rather than “left” or “right”.

An election season that began as historic with the first black person and the first woman as nominees for President began the process. We now seem to be returning to the cold war era with Russia bursting at its seams with a little drooling at its neighbors. The first target was Georgia a tiny nation on the southern Russian border. Using pretenses of defending Russians in Ossetia, a provincial area in northern Georgia, Russian troops and armor entered many of the commercial areas and damaged substantial amounts of infrastructure. This was done, according to news reports, because Georgia had chosen to align with Western countries. As the days wear on, even though there is a cease fire agreement in place and the Russian President has pledged withdrawals, Russian Troops remain in key positions in the center of the Country and short range missiles have been installed. Further, the Russian leaders have threatened Poland with worse for allowing the U.S set up missile defense positions there. Other little countries that were part of the Soviet Empire have been threatened and harassed as well, with economic sanctions for successfully developing their free economies and political policies. Prime Minister Putin envisions a new Russian Empire with an economy supported by the billions in oil dollars currently flowing in.

We already are involved in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan that threatens the stability of oil supplies to us as well as the rest of the world.

We in the U.S. need the oil to flow and will need it for some time to come because any of the alternative energy sources will take time to reach common use. Our enemies easily put our economy in turmoil by creating situations that result in higher oil prices. Russia has insulated itself by fully developing its oil reserves and using money from sales to Europe and the West to advance its policies.

Those others that would be our enemies also benefit from the higher prices for oil supplies that we pay, both from cash out of pocket and also from the results of the lack of stability of supply and world wide policies that the insecurity engenders.

The politicos have been pushing numbers of solutions to our problems and each has a particular pet such as alternative fuels, wind power, ocean power, expansion of nuclear power and others but frequently the suggestions want to exclude others.

Some of these alternatives could be developed sooner than others except for bureaucratic government interference.

Just watching any news program will tell you our problems are here now and we need action on all fronts right now or we will be involved in a much more serious war to protect our way of life.

We will be placed in a position of militarily protecting our traditional sources of oil, so we can pay extorted prices that are often used to do us ill. All of this is because a history of partisan political and parochial self interests.

We should have seen the writing on the wall in the crisis of the 1970’s now the landscape is full of new users and fewer new suppliers.

At a time of crisis like this our politicos –who tell us they know best- are on vacation.

Libertarian Presidential hopeful Bob Barr is cautioning that we should not ignore the Russian parries and thrusts but should not become sucked into military bluster and excursion and I agree whole heartedly.

The best defense we can take right now is to aggressively improve our overall energy position. We need to allow drilling in known oil reserves like “Anwar“ where it can be done quickly, safely and will take advantage of existing under used facilities. We also need to permit development other known areas for a continued supply over time such as the offshore areas. A timely decision to pursue such a policy will show the future availabilities of oil and precipitate futures bidding lower affecting current prices in the process.

At the same time we must also work to use other energy sources to enhance energy dependence such as nuclear power and “safe coal”. 

At the same time, time afforded us by using the resources we have and know, we must work to develop the new energy technologies such as hydrogen power packs, solar, wind and the many others that are less costly in terms of dangers to our ecology. We cannot just place all of our future in a single basket.

It has now become more than just expensive not to use all of our resources to develop independent access to more energy now and for the future as it could be that our enemies will force us into war to defend our way of life by attacking our sources of energy that are not in our direct control. Russia has an enormous reserve of oil and an economy growing in leaps and bounds on the profits.

We must now consider a future of more problems that could damage the ecology of the planet and its people by war as well as those precipitated by the use of the traditional fuels.

We must find representatives not rulers in the coming elections.


  1. Yetta says:

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article!
    It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stan says:

    What saved Reagan et al. was the Alaskan and North Sea oil fields coming in. Those, of course, are well past peak production now, but they did return gas to $1 – 1.25 range for long enough to feed our arrogance. It was more than “not following up.” Reagan’s crowd led the defiance of common sense on oil.

    You’re right, though. Any coherent energy plan is going to stake out and prioritize how we use our resources, reserving some portion for developing the replacement resources you mention.

    But how likely is it we’re going to develop a rational plan?

  3. Fred says:

    Thanks Stan- Point Taken.
    How soon we forget. The point still stands we didn’t learn, the price of gas dropped a little and folks forgot about the risks that were identified. While Regan didn’t follow up Congress did nothing either except restrict more and more the available reserves. At the moment we need oil as a bridge to get us to the time when electric cars, fuel cells and appropriate service are widely available.

  4. Stan says:

    “We should have seen the writing on the wall in the crisis of the 1970’s now the landscape is full of new users and fewer new suppliers.”

    The much-abused and often reviled Jimmy Carter did see and announced a program to re-achieve energy independence through combinations of conservation and alternative energy development. Look up his speech. He was shouted down in attacks from the sold-out right wing led by Ronald Reagan, and, a couple months later, ennunciated what came to be known as the Carter Doctrine, that oil supplies in the Middle East were a vital national interest and we would intervene militarily there if needed.

    So we saw the writing on the wall the 70’s and said it didn’t matter and declared our oil addiction holy.