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To: AEL <ae@...
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 16:53:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: U.S. needs an independent energy policy
U.S. needs an independent energy policy
EDITORIAL U.S. SHOULD BREAK OPEC'S GRIP OPTIONS NEEDED TO AVOID
ECONOMIC VULNERABILITY 11/16/2000 South Florida Sun-Sentinel Broward
Metro 30A (Copyright 2000 by the Sun-Sentinel)
Don't look to OPEC for relief from high oil prices anytime soon. The
11-nation cartel has little sympathy for Western countries still
complaining about production levels and their effects on prices.
If anything, the cartel may even cut production early next year,
likely sending prices even higher. And it has appointed a tough new
leader, Ali Rodriguez of Venezuela, a "price hawk" who is to take
office as secretary-general on Jan. 1. Rodriguez says the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which produces 40
percent of the world's oil, has already done its part to help the
Western economies by raising its official target production by 3.7
million barrels a day. He says that's quite enough, and he is serving
notice that he intends to make the cartel as cohesive and powerful as
it was during the days of the oil embargo in the 1970s.
Great. Just great. Oh, well, who needs OPEC anyway?
We do. That's our problem.
The United States has no comprehensive energy policy. The past three
presidential administrations, through a combination of complacency and
lack of political consensus, have failed to develop one. Once the oil
embargo passed into history, the sense of urgency passed with it. We
thus remain vulnerable to foreign manipulation of our economy, our
politics and our national mood. (Remember Jimmy Carter lamenting our
Whatever happened to solar energy? The electric car? Wind power? What
about non-petroleum-based fuels such as ethanol? No one talks much
about those things anymore, so they remain mere options waiting to be
What about now? Why wait until OPEC again has us over a barrel?
There's another option even for those who still prefer to get their
energy from oil. The United States has some. Maybe a lot. It's just
waiting to be developed.
There's the rub. It's not just lying around waiting to be pumped into
our homes and cars. It has to be refined. Before that, it has to be
extracted from the earth, possibly in environmentally sensitive areas
like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. That makes a lot
of people nervous, but new technologies may make it possible to drill
in sensitive areas without causing significant harm to the
environment. Isn't the idea at least worth serious study?
The United States needs an independent energy policy. It needs to
break out of the grip of OPEC, which after all is a business
organization dedicated to advancing the financial interests of its
members. More ominously, it's also a political organization dominated
by Middle Eastern countries, some of whom make no secret of their
contempt for the United States. Should another war break out in that
region, with the United States supporting its friend Israel, it's
pretty predictable what would happen to oil supplies.
It's an avoidable disaster. The next president should make it a top
priority to put U.S. energy policy beyond the reach of OPEC. If he
does, he will be showing a degree of foresight that has largely been
lacking in Washington.
It might even make him worthy to be called a leader, electoral mandate
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