Thursday, October 26, 2006

A response to Captain Ed

Captain Ed of the Blogging Pantheon has reached out to all and sundry to participate in an energy debate

On May 25th, 1961, President John Kennedy told the nation that America would go to the moon… Kennedy recognized the importance to economics, national security, and national morale of the space program. He foresaw that the mission would outlast his presidency, and that the benefits would far outlast the age…. So I ask CQ readers: is it time for a moon-shot on energy, and if so, what would it take?
Interesting question, but it totally misses political reality. There are two critical differences between the moon-shot and energy self-sufficiency. The former was a technical hurdle never before attempted. The latter is a political hurdle that has been purposefully created under the guise of environmental activism.

Let’s look at a few facets of the issue:

Nuclear power – As Capt. Ed implies this would have to be the lynch-pin of any near-term energy independence project. But normally sane people still react (no pun intended) to fission energy the same way Klansmen did when the first non-wasp moved into the neighborhood. While strides in production and waste issues have been made, don’t expect a rational debate on the subject, making this a non-starter.

Use of present domestic reserves – Yes we easily have “15 years” of reserves, if not more, to help bridge the gap between the present day and the arrival of an independent, low-use fossil fuel economy. But there are many roadblocks to this as well. First, the ‘global-warming-caused-by-man’ religionists will not stand idly by for the years Capt. Ed suggests. Like the child in the high chair, they want their fossil fuel reductions <*bang!*> NOW! Damn the consequences!

Second, it may take 15 years to ramp up the refining and delivery infrastructure to handle all the oil and gas we would produce internally in order to be fossil fuel independent.

Third, if modern day environmental sensibilities won’t allow drilling in an easy call like ANWR because me may <*gasp!*> disturb a polar bear, what chance do he have of any meaningful nation-wide recovery efforts?

Those nasty, big oil companies – Energy is not a mom-n-pop business. It will always require huge capital expenditures and infrastructure, as well as long-term (read multi-decade) foresight and planning. A national policy spanning just 15 years will have to work hand-in-glove with the Exxons and Chevrons of the world. I don’t see a political party with leaders like Howard Dean and Chuck Schumer buying into that without heavy government manipulation of the energy market…which would render the whole project moot, of course.

And it’s not just Democrats…Minnesota’s own Senate candidate Mark Kennedy (R) has been eagerly pandering to the anti-corporate environmental left (note that it hasn’t helped him any).

If I had dedication to writing like a Captain possessed (this blog ain’t “Lazy” for nothin’) I could go on, but I think I’ve already pointed out enough political Berlin Walls to show that Captain Ed’s exercise is an interesting idea for rational minds, but there are too many nutters in positions of power and influence to make it happen.

Oh…one last thing…JFK presented his vision to a nation that believed in itself, our moral foundations and strived for its continued existence. The boomers and gen-X-ers ignorantly dismiss all such ‘jingoisms’ amid a brain-wash of relativism and historical unconsciousness.

Besides, didn’t Bush already present a plan with many of these elements, but without the moon-shot rhetoric, only to have it crash and burn on lift-off?

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