Let's cut our dependence on foreign oil

Friday, April 24, 2009

In a speech last week, Vice President Joe Biden said, "If you add the actual price of oil, it's probably $10 more a barrel just by the military we have to provide to be able to ensure those oil lanes stay open." Biden was talking about the Middle East and he argued we wouldn't have nearly the troops stationed over there were it not for oil. I'm not sure about his $10-per-barrel figure but, in general, he's right. The war in Iraq is not being primarily fought over oil but you can bet that if oil weren't part of the mix we wouldn't be as involved.

There's little disagreement that the United States would be much better off were we to wean ourselves from Middle Eastern oil. The trick is how to do it.

The hackneyed solution coming from the left is to conserve while exploring alternative sources of energy. That solution demands an immediate reduction in our standard of living. We have worked long and hard as a country to get to where we are. Why on earth would we want to go backwards when there's a clear alternative?

The alternative is to develop other means of powering our cars and heating and lighting our homes while tapping into the resources we have here in America. But those efforts are constantly thwarted by the dirt people and their activist judges. Just last week a federal appeals court cancelled a program to expand oil and gas drilling off the coast of Alaska.

Understand I am a big fan of clean air and clean water. I would like to see us continue to advance in a way that cuts pollution. I just don't think we have to devolve back to the Stone Age to do it.

The technology for electric automobiles is very promising. Tesla Motors has a car in production that is totally electric, gets 244 miles to a charge and has the power American consumers demand. (It does a head-snapping 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds.) That's the two-seater roadster. The sedan, coming out in 2011, seats seven and has a 300 mile range. It can recharge in 45 minutes. Soon we'll be able to recharge in less time than it takes to fill up your car. Charging stations would, in all likelihood, be integrated into current gas stations. Instead of just offering gas and diesel there would be a pump for electric cars.

But, where would we get the energy to power these cars? My vision for American energy independence is nuclear power. France currently gets about 80 percent of its power from nuclear. There's no reason why we couldn't do the same. Can you imagine; clean, quiet automobiles using cheap energy? No more smog caused by automobiles. No more spikes in gas prices. No more economic chaos based on the price OPEC sets for a barrel of oil.

France's emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide (real pollutants as opposed to CO2) have been reduced by 70 percent since they went nuclear. Their total power output has tripled.

The same folks who block domestic oil drilling are scared of nuclear power and the dreaded nuclear waste. What they don't tell you is the spent fuel rods (nuclear waste isn't some green goo in 50-gallon drums) can be returned deep inside the mountains from whence they came. Something else they don't tell you is all of the nuclear waste that has ever been generated would fit in a school gymnasium.

It's time we start ignoring the people who will only be satisfied when we're relegated to third-world status.