Federal Energy Policies Critical to Our Nation!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
July 24, 2003

Citizens of  the world can never escape the reality that our dynamic American democracy of 227 years is merely in its infancy relative to the estimated 6 million years we humans have been walking this earth.  When our inspired founding ancestors established the American form of democracy, it became what it still is today: a work in progress. 

One of the key tenets of the American model of democracy is the concept of a representative form of government.  Elected by the people, our officials must gain office by earning approval at the polls.  How we officials go about developing support and how voters learn about and analyze the work of public officials and candidates is very important to the health of any democracy.

It has been said that short-term popularity seldom begets good long-term public policy.  This bears on the topic I present to you today: energy!  With it, we advance.  Without it, we decline.  Add to that the fact that the whole world indeed has its eyes on us and we can begin to understand the significance of our success to the hopes of the world for their own advancement!

In its July 21, 2003 edition, Time Magazine ran a must-read article entitled, "Why U.S. Is Running Out of Gas".  One problem relates to "a chronic case of short attention span among American politicians when it comes to energy policy".  The other relates to "changing anything as deep-seated as America's habits of energy use", which "calls for consistency and follow through …"  We have been experiencing energy shortages since at least 1973 and we now find ourselves heading into our first big energy crunch since then.

Compounding this, Congress is about to enact a federal energy bill that consists of the same failed policy of the past.  It places some appropriate emphasis on abundant coal.  But then it proceeds to emphasize other energy sources such as "$3.5 billion to revive America's moribund nuclear power industry---even though the last order for a plant that actually went online was placed in 1973."  "It would parcel out nearly $10 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to oil and gas companies that will not erase falling production but instead enrich oilmen and investors."  The Senate bill treats renewable energy and conservation with minimal emphasis.

Time Magazine goes on to state that "While the world is swimming in crude oil, it already trades at an inflated price of $30.00 per barrel, a level essentially dictated by Saudi Arabia with the approval of the U.S. government."

"Nearly a fifth of all U.S. electricity is now generated with natural gas and 88% of all new generating plants built in the last decade use the fuel."  At the same time, U.S. production of natural gas is inadequate to meet the needs of U.S. consumption.

Accentuating the impact of energy on U.S. economic competitiveness, a consortium of nearly two dozen companies, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, brewers, chemical companies and makers of building materials have urged the President to "declare war on high natural gas prices".  At the top of their list of recommendations: "Maximize use of other energy sources for power generation." 

One of those energy strategies is conservation, a critical ingredient in the energy solution.  A casual review of Congressional history reflects that it has lost interest in conservation in its various forms.  Note that "The best overall fuel economy of 22.1 miles per gallon (for U.S. made vehicles) was achieved in 1987-88.  Aside from an upward tick, that figure has inched steadily downward, to 20.4 m.p.g. last year."  To add an ironic twist, the tax-cutting bill signed in May of this year, gives a write-off of $100,000.00 toward the purchase of any Hummer, a gas guzzler that gets 10 miles per gallon!

You may ask, "Why is a County Commissioner writing about a subject that is so intertwined in Washington?"  Because our ability to keep taxes at a "reasonable" level depends on our conservation and wise use of energy!  And that is tied closely to what Washington does to advance or retard the development of relevant and sustainable sources of energy.

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