Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The issue of energy independence.

Energy independence for the United States may well not be seen in our lifetimes. The argument being that the inertia that the industry has accumulated over the last century is staggering. We are shackled to oil as religious fundamentalists are shackled to socially outmoded dogma.

The question that lies, or should, at the forefront of any debate regarding the pursuit of energy independence is not a moralistic one regarding the environment. It is purely, what can be done, and what is it going to cost. At the root of any question regarding government action is, 'is this something that the federal government should be involved in'. Too often this is ignored. The answer to this can be easily found in the ROI of whatever program is proposed. The problem right now is the fact that this question is not being addressed. It is not even a bullet point. The current administration saw fit to pander to the mid-west corn growers by passing legislation to provide massive subsidies based on ethanol production from corn. The efficiency, ROI, of this is without question well under what we should be shooting for. In business terms in order for any investment to be viable it must have at least a thirty percent return. Corn based ethanol has an estimated 24% return on energy investment. That's before even analyzing the externalities of the effect on world markets for grain and livestock. Quite simply, this was a fundamentally flawed approach both from the business aspect and the interest in energy efficiency.

Long story short, we must, without a doubt, begin to dedicate serious research into alternative energy sources, including alternative fuels and bio fuels production other than corn based ethanol. At a certain point we must reexamine the role of fuel in our lives, and in the marketplace. Fuel that is used in every walk of life, and effects the very nature of our society is a commodity. It is an energy source that defines how we live every bit as much as electricity. How then can it be responsibly left in the hands of the marketplace. How can this pivotal and fundamental part of our lives be allowed to be manipulated by foreign corporate interests with no concern over whether our middle-class can afford to drive to work, or whether a single mom can afford to pay for rising food prices due to increased overhead for distributers? How can we even think that this is a reasonable course of action? We are facing an energy crisis that could very well bring this nation to it's knees. We can ignore it and keep sucking at the teat of foreign oil interests, or we can stand up as adults and work to see this country free and energy independent. Is it going to be cheap? No. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to happen tomorrow? Of course not. Do we need to start today? Yes, we need to start as soon as possible.


Post a Comment

<< Home