Our nation has debated energy policy on and off for over 40 years, yet the same three problems grow worse. First, the United States needs to reduce its reliance on imported oil to strengthen domestic energy security, reduce the trade deficit, and guard against economically harmful swings in global prices. Second, the military needs to reduce its reliance on liquid fossil fuels, which are targeted for attack by our enemies putting our combat troops at greater and greater risk. And third, humankind needs to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels to limit the impacts of climate change.
Unfortunately, while these problems grow worse, the response from U.S. policy makers remains inadequate. Typically, when energy prices go up, energy policy activism spikes. The response might include incrementally increasing energy R&D investment, incentivizing more domestic oil drilling, expanding energy efficiency programs, and/or subsidizing mature alternatives like ethanol. But these activities are rarely sustained, and are frequently pursued in an ineffective piecemeal approach until energy prices come down and attention turns elsewhere. The debate has become so stale and the solutions so ineffective that even policy makers have taken notice. As President Obama recently pointed out, “Presidents and politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence but that promise has so far gone unmet. That has to change. We cannot keep going from shock to trance on the issue of energy security, rushing to propose action when gas prices rise, then hitting the snooze button when they fall again.”
Instead of the same tried and failed approaches, decision makers would be well advised to learn from nearly a half century of failed energy policies and finally implement a long-term solution: an energy policy that leads the United States down the path to cheap, domestically produced clean energy.
So here we are again. Oil prices are rising, climate change is worsening, hundreds of billions of dollars are flowing annually to overseas oil produce