Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

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next week's column: Energetic Columnist Energizes Energy Effort

For you Janet Evanovich fans, there's a new LJ community called plum_lovin, where everyone's discussing Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mystery/humor/thriller/whatever the heck you'd call it series. The NaNoWriMo story I worked on last November was inspired a bit by the Plum books.

On another unrelated note, send your thoughts/prayers/vibes toward Texas, where it looks like they're in for it from Hurricane Ike.


As all five of my regular readers know, I'm the only viable small town Hoosier humor columnist Presidential candidate from either party. As such, I think it's important that you understand where I stand on the subject on energy policy.

I think we should have one.

Not only that, but the energy policy of my administration will be that we should have energy.

Now, I'm all for conservation, which has the advantage of both saving money and reducing our dependency on people we don't want to depend on. But remember, the American people must be convinced, not forced; at least, as long as some of us still vote.

Instead, speak from the wallet. The argument that turning off electronics or recycling old Playboys will save money may work; assuring us that by skipping a shower we're saving the habitat of the red-billed Antarctic Wildebeest will have a more limited effect. Many Americans still aren't fully convinced of the man-made global warming thing, and when a politician tells them "the debate is over" while real scientists are still debating, they get turned off. On the other hand, by now they're convinced that handing dollars over to a South American dictator is a bad idea.

We may make fun of Al Gore for the big house and the airplane trips, but the truth is we'd like to have the big house ourselves. You want to save the world? Don't do it by telling us we have to scrap our cars and walk to the bus stop during a Buffalo blizzard – tell us if we change our ways we might be able to buy Al Gore's house, someday. Personally, I'd cover it with solar panels to keep my swimming pool warm.

What I'm saying is, the technology of alternative energy can save the world, save our economy, and improve our lifestyles. We can do this with my administration's energy policy, which I call Do Everything.

The problem is that we keep concentrating on one idea at the time, and argue about which is best. "My windmill can beat up your biofuel, so there! Nyah!" "Oh, yeah? Well, my shale can take your solar panels!"

My energy plan is not designed to combat global warming. If manmade global warming is real, my energy plan will combat it by accident. If it's not real, we'll still cut down on pollution. No, my energy plan is all about world peace. Seriously.

Number one priority will be eliminating the need to buy any oil at all from any foreign source. This will improve American security, take money out of the hands of dictators and terrorists, cut the trade deficit, and lower pollution. (Among other things, we'll cut down on huge ships tooling around the world, burning oil to transport oil.)

We will drill. Oh, yes, we will. Any reasonable place in America where oil may be accessible, the states can allow it, although I'd limit drilling in Alaska's ANWAR to 2,000 of the 19,000,000 acres. If it's government owned land, oil companies will pay rent. If it's not, they'll pay taxes. That money will go straight into research for alternative energy, with the design of replacing oil completely. However, we can't accomplish that tomorrow, and until we do we need to stop depending on outside sources.

"But drilling now won't reduce the cost of oil for a decade!"

Yes is will. The price of oil is being determined by speculators, and as soon as they know we're going for a bigger supply they'll start speculating a lower price. Besides, are we supposed to lower the price of oil by not looking for more? If we'd pushed domestic exploration and alternative energy in the 70's, we wouldn't be having this problem right now -- let's see to taking care of our children.

But that's not the point; the point is to improve domestic supply over the short to medium term, until fossil fuels are no longer needed. Frankly, we don't want the price to go down too far, because if it does the impetus to find alternative sources will disappear – just like it did in the 80's.

No matter where oil companies look they'll be careful, because their job is to make money for their investors – and they'll know up front that a spill will cost them, big time. Could an accident happen? Sure. An accident could also happen on an emu milk farm (Can you milk an emu?), and milk is poisonous to aquatic life. You gotta be careful.

Along with exploration, the government will fast track permits for new refineries.
What's the point of having domestic oil if it can't be refined here? Once the need for oil is reduced, those refineries will be cleaned and turned into either water parks or skateboard parks. Think of all those pipes.

The government will support and encourage research into all alternative energy sources, all at once. One alone won't do, but all together should, over time, reduce our need for fossil fuels almost completely. Also, we'll push research into the use of oil shale, of which there's a huge amount here in the US. There are promising results in making it into a clean burning fuel that isn't owned by an Arab country.

That's to get us through, while we build wind farms and nuclear power plants, make solar energy more efficient, and prepare biofuels from plants that are not food. There's also tidal power, cold fusion, giant bioengineered hamsters on wheels, and geothermal power, among others. If we have a shortage, we'll line up all the members of Congress and have them blow hot air into a generator.

None of these is perfect. For instance, nuclear power is one of the safest sources of energy, but eventually you have to deal with waste. Besides, although glowing in the dark is one way to cut down on the use of electric lights, it makes falling asleep really difficult.

I propose something akin to the Manhattan Project, only instead of developing a bomb we'll develop ways of making energy generation more efficient and affordable. We'll help private companies set up their infrastructure, and once they've become profitable we'll stop any federal subsidies. Then they'll be there paying taxes, employing Americans, and giving us clean energy.

Meanwhile, I propose tax breaks to anyone who buys hybrid vehicles, installs private alternative energy sources like solar panels, adds extra insulation to their home, or installs a nuclear power plant in their basement.

Now, if you don't want giant windmills, or nuclear energy, or anything else in your back yard, that's your decision. Maybe your neighborhood won't get the jobs, or the infrastructure, and maybe your electric bill will be a bit more expensive. But don't stand in the way of the rest of us; and don't come running to me if you don't get Al Gore's House.
Tags: column, new era, slightly off the mark

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