When the power goes off leaving you with no TV, Internet, or email you have a lot of time on your hands. Thankfully there are batteries, so my trusty computer will still work for a few hours, and I can follow my fingers into my thoughts. Looking out my window I can’t see any lights in the neighborhood so at least I know it isn’t just our house that’s in the dark. In addition, there are cars running up and down the street, so I know at least it wasn’t the dreaded EMP blast. The wind was making a strange noise but stopped, so we have come out from under the table since there’s no indication of a tornado on the way. All these kinds of thoughts run through your mind when the lights go off. In other words, when you’re in the dark there’s little light.
This lack of power also brings to mind the recent spike in oil prices and the resulting sticker shock at the pump. Our government assures us there is no inflation. Anyone who goes to the supermarket or the gas station can gauge the validity of those claims for themselves. When the power goes off in the middle of the night it’s impossible to know why, but when America runs out of energy we should all know why.
Beginning in 1974 when the former anti-establishment protesters became the establishment and the Watergate Congress grasped the reins of power, the United States has been systematically hamstrung in its production of energy. They founded the department of Energy in 1977, and through its enlightened management of our energy production and power needs, the percentage of our energy needs coming from domestic sources has steadily fallen as our dependence on imported oil has soared.
America has some of the greatest proven reserves of oil in the world, but due to unproven and sometimes disproven environmental concerns we aren’t allowed to explore, drill, or pump at anywhere near full capacity. We have one of the world’s largest supply of coal, but for the same tenuous reasons its use is maligned and restricted. We are the preeminent designer and builder of nuclear power plants, but due to unsupported safety concerns we haven’t licensed or built a new plant for decades. We have the technology and the space to build refineries that don’t pollute; however, the all-powerful environmental lobby has blocked the construction of a new one for over thirty years. So when the price hits $4 a gallon and the lights go out don’t sit in the dark and wonder why.
Right now the Obama Administration is fighting the federal courts that have said the moratorium on oil exploration in the Gulf, which was imposed by decree, is illegal. In a knee jerk reaction, our President declared the gulf off-limits for drilling, economically devastating the deep water oil business and the many industries and people it supported. The government argues it’s too dangerous to drill in deep water after the BP leak. No one contends it isn’t difficult but since the same government makes it almost impossible to drill on land, where it is the safest or in shallow water where it is much less dangerous; what alternative is there? Only the one each successive administration for decades seems to favor: buying oil from the Mideast. Our elected leaders are trading our energy independence and our treasure in exchange for letting someone else drill somewhere else.
Instead of oil and coal and nuclear, we are told that America’s future energy needs will be met by ethanol, solar, and wind. Our massive use of ethanol, which is a very inefficient energy source, has driven up the price of corn worldwide causing food prices to escalate. This in turn has contributed to the current unrest which is driving up oil prices. The same environmentalists who campaign against oil, coal, and nuclear also work to block the construction of solar power plants in the vast deserts of the Southwest. The same politicians who work for the demise of our traditional forms of energy fight the construction of wind farms if they happen to be anywhere near them. All three of these boondoggles have received billions in federal dollars, tax breaks and incentives for decades and the answer to our energy needs are still blowing in the wind.
The only growth industry left by the government is the government. It is powered by its own inertia. America’s energy policy seems to be to manufacture an energy crisis. Typing away on my battery operated computer by the flickering light of an oil lamp, the vision of America’s energy future seems almost as dark as the scene outside my window in a blackout. We’ve allowed demagogues preaching a false gospel of man-made global warming chanting songs of pollution hysteria while serving sacraments of social guilt to give our enemies a chokehold on our energy artery. The next time you pull into a gas station, as you pump your fuel look at the price. Remind yourself we have a Secretary of Energy who thinks the price should be at European levels and a President who has said energy prices will skyrocket under his programs. Now ask yourself, “If that’s their plan, what’s mine?”
Dr. Robert R. Owens teaches history, political science, religion, and leadership for Southside Virginia Community College. Dr. Owens is the author of “America Won the Vietnam War,” “The Asuza Street Revival,” and called “The Constitution Failed.” He is available for speaking engagements.