Thursday, June 16, 2005

the power of the future

As the Senate debates the energy bill this week and next, it makes sense to take a minute to examine where our energy policy is in this country, and where we want it to be in the future. It is only through this timely self-examination that we can hope to make any real forward progress with anything, especially energy policy. Little has changed over the past century as far as how we consume energy. Oil and coal, two fossil fuels that conjure up mental images of smog and soot, are still the common sources of our energy, they power our cars, they heat our homes, and they power our bread machines. In a time when technology changes almost daily, one would think that our technology for harnessing energy would have developed over time, too. Well, it hasn't. Ever since colonial times, COLONIAL TIMES! We have used three main fuels for energy, wood, coal and oil. That's it. In four hundred years of development and progress, we are essentially still starting fires to power our blowdryers.

There are other alternatives out there, but at this point they are about as viable as a Ralph Nader presidential campaign. But they have potential, if only we would commit dollars to finding a way to making them more user-friendly. Solar power, wind energy, hydrogen, carbon-based petroleum conversion, and a host of other sources that could help to make our country less dependent on foreign oil, and also make our environment just a little cleaner. Some Senators don't like wind energy because it ruins the scenery. Isn't a little obstructed scenery better than fire-fights in the streets of Iraq?

Our lawmakers can't continue to window-dress this issue. They support renewables at town hall meetings, and on the campaign trail, but when the hammer drops, where are they to be found? Why of course they come down on the side of clean coal initiatives, and drilling for oil right here at home. I am all for those things in the short term, but the key there is short term. But with them, we must also develop a long-term energy strategy that moves AWAY from coal and oil, and towards harnessing other cleaner and renewable sources.

The way this is to be done is by requiring utility companies to use 10% renewables in their energy output by the year 2020. That gives them 15 years to research and develop ways to m

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