Sunday, April 03, 2005

Dry Holes Ahead 

Via Page Rockwell of Salon's "War Room": America, with two percent of the world's total oil reserves, currently accounts for a quarter of worldwide consumption -- but that figure is likely to change, as emerging technological superpowers India and China demand a bigger piece of a dwindling pie. Now a group of high-profile defense hawks has come to the belated realization that our voracious appetite for the black stuff is not just deforming our foreign policy but threatening our longterm security as well: Bud McFarlane, Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey and C. Boyden Gray are among the signatories to a recent letter urging the President to "launch a major new initiative to curtail U.S. consumption through improved efficiency and the rapid development and deployment of advanced biomass, alcohol, and other available petroleum fuel alternatives." Note, in the second paragraph below, McFarlane's blunt admission of what our military budget is really buying:
The group asks the federal government to spend as much as $1 billion on the effort over the next five years -- "a level proportionate with other priorities for our nation's defense."

"The price at the pump is not all we're paying right now. We are also paying $400 billion for a defense budget," says Robert C. McFarlane, President Reagan's national-security adviser and a signer of the letter.

Frank Gaffney, another signer and former Reagan official who heads the Center for Security Policy, a national-security think tank in Washington, adds: "I don't often find myself in agreement with those at the Natural Resources Defense Council, but I'm delighted to have them joining us in this initiative because I do think there is common ground . . . .

The letter was organized by the Energy Future Coalition, one of several bipartisan groups launched in Washington after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to argue that the level of U.S. oil consumption represents a pressing danger -- and that it can be curbed in a way that doesn't decimate the economy. Many of the groups have tried to find common ground among environmentalists, auto makers and evangelical activists . . . .

Auto makers, the United Auto Workers and environmentalists also are focusing on energy policy. They have been meeting in recent months to hash out a proposal for government incentives to help auto makers retool and make more fuel-efficient cars.

Some environmentalists are concluding that, after years of losing fights to get Congress to significantly toughen the nation's fuel-economy requirements, they will get more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road by working with auto makers rather than fighting them.

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