Though not always a huge fan of Thomas Friedman, I’m buying what he’s selling when it comes to U.S. energy policy. Recently he ripped into the so-called energy realists, those who maintain that dependence on imported oil is the closest thing our economy has to a natural law. Alternative energy may someday be able to supplant fossil fuels, the realists concede, probably around the same time that we colonize Mars.
Fortunately, some cracks are starting to appear in the realists’ facade as new technologies become more viable, and as the stakes get higher. Friedman quotes extensively from a speech (pdf) delivered by Republican Senator Richard Lugar proposing a raft of incentives and mandates aimed at the transportation sector, which consumes 60% of America’s oil.
With these basics in mind, my message is that the balance of realism has passed from those who argue on behalf of oil and a laissez faire energy policy that relies on market evolution, to those who recognize that in the absence of a major reorientation in the way we get our energy, life in America is going to be much more difficult in the coming decades. No one who cares about U.S. foreign policy, national security, and long-term economic growth can afford to ignore what is happening…No one who is honestly assessing the decline of American leverage around the world due to our energy dependence can fail to see that energy is the albatross of U.S. national security.
Lugar plans to introduce his proposals in a bill this week co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Barack Obama.