Bush Energy Plan a Bright Idea

Americans were shocked to see gasoline prices shoot up to $2 per gallon, and they were more shocked to hear that those prices might rise to $3 per gallon.

People across the country, especially in California, are subject to rising electricity bills and are being threatened with potential blackouts during the summer.

A frank assessment of the situation will show that our nation is in an energy crisis. We are paying more and more to fulfill our energy needs, and these higher prices could very well knock our floundering economy into a recession.

While it is easy for us to pass the buck and blame other people for this problem, we honestly have no one to blame but ourselves.

The administrations of Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. each turned a blind eye to our energy needs during the combined 12 years of their administrations. During that time, not a single oil refinery was built in this country.

We have neglected to build pipelines to deliver gasoline, natural gas and both crude and refined oil to the places where these resources are needed. At the same time, we have allowed our nation to become more dependent upon foreign oil and less invested in domestic oil production possibilities.

In order to deal with this situation, President George W. Bush recently released a plan with 105 proposals to help alleviate our energy woes. The proposals are a balanced approach to the crisis we face, since they deal with both the economics of our energy needs and the need for the encouragement of conservation.

The president’s plan, though criticized by such groups as the Sierra Club for not doing anything for conservation, actually seeks to encourage it.

One of the recommendations is for the government to raise the fuel efficiency standards of sport utility vehicles from 20 miles per gallon to 27 miles per gallon. These efficiency standards have not been changed since the Carter administration, when this nation was going through another energy crisis.

Another of Bush’s proposals would give a tax credit to those Americans who decide to buy cars that run on alternative energy, such as electricity.

All in all, nearly half of the 105 proposals seek to encourage American citizens to conserve energy via various incentives and government standards.

On the other hand, it would be completely naive to believe that this country can crawl out of its current state of crisis by simply conserving.

We must note that California is the most energy-efficient state in the union, yet it faces a daunting summer of rolling blackouts that will cause the temporary shutdown of many major businesses.

The president’s plan seeks ways to increase our nation’s energy supply through “”common sense”” means. This excludes nuclear energy as a possible solution, though we haven’t considered such a possibility for over 20 years.

France, which has not fallen victim to an energy crisis, derives 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy. It is also important to note that the only byproduct released into the atmosphere from nuclear power is steam.

Democrats are screaming that the president is not doing anything to help in the short term. They point to previous presidents and say that the current administration should follow their lead. Their solutions include temporarily halting federal gasoline taxes and releasing the strategic oil reserve.

Such proposals are only temporary fixes that do not address our needs. Clinton did not halt the federal gas taxes and there is no reason for Bush to do so. However, Clinton did release the strategic oil reserve, which resulted in lower prices. Clearly, that was a mistake. Clinton did not understand that the reserve was created for real emergencies when our national security is at stake — emergencies such as war.

Clinton released the reserve because he interpreted the situation as a real emergency. As a result, gas prices dropped, only to rise again to even higher levels.

Such quick fixes do nothing to address our nation’s real needs. In addition, economic analysts predict that gasoline prices will fall after Memorial Day weekend and will continue to stabilize without the help of the Strategic Oil Reserve.

Our nation is clearly in the throes of an energy crisis. The president has done the right thing in releasing proposals that seek to address our long-term needs through both conservation and a supply increase.

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