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Monday, September 26, 2005

Perhaps Jimmy Carter Would Be Willing to Lend Him a Spare Cardigan 

Prophetic words from the bony blond pundit with long legs, large feet, and, in John Madden's memorable phrase, "linebacker eyes"; we can never remember her name, but she enjoyed a brief vogue portraying a constitutional scholar, so-called, on the infotainment circuit, and will undoubtedly soon be looking to resume her former career with the carnival, which will afford her the opportunity to travel from town to town and autograph remaindered copies of her numerous bestsellers when she is not biting the heads off live chickens:
Al Gore's idea of "standing up to 'Big Oil'" is for all of us to ride bikes and wear heavier coats in the winter. We're supposed to ratchet back our expectations so that we don't disturb some migratory bird by drilling for oil in Alaska.

This is nothing more than warmed-over Jimmy Carter lecturing us to turn down the thermostat as he sat by the fire in that ridiculous cardigan sweater. Democrats love energy policies that don't involve the creation of new energy. They just want to harangue us into giving things up. "Environmentally friendly" means a life of austerity.

What does he think we are -- Swedes? We're Americans. This is a prosperous country. We will not live like Swedes. We want 18-ton Ford Exploro-cruisers, cell phones, CDs, hot showers, blow dryers, DVD players and jet skis.

Fuel is the metric of prosperity, and conservationism is an acknowledgement that we are in decline of prosperity -- that this is the beginning of the long bleak twilight of civilization. If you posit that we have fixed energy sources and we have to ration them, then we are dying as a species.

The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet -- it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view.
Since that column was written, in October of 2000, foreign oil production has been hobbled by an elective war and domestic production by an (equally elective) act of God. From Zemblan patriot J.M. comes news that our President, facing the politically disastrous prospect of $5-a-gallon gasoline, may no longer subscribe to the Biblical view:
With fears mounting that high energy costs will crimp economic growth, President Bush called on Americans yesterday to conserve gasoline by driving less. He also issued a directive for all federal agencies to cut their own energy use and to encourage employees to use public transportation.
SIDEBAR: Lest you imagine we're dissing Jimmy, compare and contrast:
Carter’s main achievement involved energy policy, though he would receive little credit for it during his term. Despite the lip service paid by American presidents to reducing energy dependence, U.S. oil imports had shot up 65 percent annually since 1973. In 1976 the nation was consuming one-quarter of all Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production. The U.S. remained wasteful in energy use, with consumption per capita 2.3 times the average for nations in the European Economic Community and 2.6 times Japan's. Carter set out to reduce this dependence.

The president got Congress to pass the Emergency Natural Gas Act, which would authorize the national government to allocate interstate natural gas. He created a Department of Energy to regulate existing energy suppliers and fund research on new sources of energy, particularly sustainable (wind and solar power) and ecologically sound sources. His Energy Security Act created the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation, which would provide $20 billion in joint ventures with private industry. Carter signed his first energy package into law on November 9, 1978. The deregulation of oil and natural gas prices that resulted would lead to a vast increase in the supply of energy in the 1980s, and consequently a lowering of prices . . . .

By April 1980, he had gotten much of his second energy package through, including a Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax (with revenues designated for the general Treasury but not for specific energy projects), which would expire in 1993 or before, if the full amount of $227 billion had been collected. But there were two major defeats: Congress overrode a presidential veto of a bill that Congress had passed repealing a $4.62 per barrel oil import fee—the first time in twenty-eight years that a Congress had overridden a veto by a president from the majority party. It also defeated the Energy Mobilization Board that Carter had proposed to cut through "red tape" in developing new sources of energy.

Carter’s program worked. Consumption of foreign oil did go down, from 48 percent when Carter took office to 40 percent in 1980, with a reduction of 1.8 million barrels a day. When Carter left office there were high inventories of oil and a surplus of natural gas, delivered by a more rational distribution system. There was greater oil exploration than before, leading eventually to an oil glut and a drop in prices—which Carter's Department of Energy had not predicted. Between 1980 and 1985, domestic production would increased by almost 1 million barrels a day, while imports of crude oil and petroleum products declined from 8.2 to 4.5 million barrels a day. His goal of reducing U.S. dependency on foreign sources succeeded, at least temporarily.
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