U.S. Energy Policy Takes Center Stage in the Presidential Campaign

By Glenn Maltais

Energy is the common thread running through nearly every aspect of our individual and communal lives; interweaving energy, economic, trade, agricultural, environmental, domestic, security, and foreign policies, inseparably linking one to the next. Therefore, it is no coincidence energy is at the epicenter of unprecedented challenges facing America today, challenges in the form of fossil fuel & foreign oil dependence.

Each trip to the gas station or grocery store reminds us the economic implications of our energy policies are as varied as they are profound. In fact, a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that over the last 30 years, oil market turmoil has cost the U.S. economy over 7 trillion dollars. Not surprisingly, each economic recession over the last 40 years has been preceded by a substantial increase in the cost of a barrel of oil.

A less known energy related expenditure of our tax dollars is the 40 billion+ spent each year on (non-combat) military operations to protect strategic Middle East oil producing countries and oil distribution channels. In addition, to the detriment of a litany of domestic programs, the US is borrowing hundreds of billions to finance combat operations and infrastructure rebuilding in the Middle East. A Nobel Prize winning economist has estimated the overall cost of the desert storm and the current Iraq conflict will far exceed $1 trillion.

The consequences of our energy policies transcend political persuasion, whereas the truth lies in historical fact. For decades America’s pursuit of energy security has been the primary factor driving political and military policies in the Middle East. These [energy driven] policies toward this region have acted as a catalyst for terrorist activities intended to harm America, its interests and allies.

Yet, not unlike how many of us take health for granted until a problem arises, when it comes to energy; we flick a switch, adjust a thermostat, turn a key, and anticipate the result without thought to underlying cause or effect.

It is when we are deprived of energy, that its import permeates our consciousness. Albeit for most a temporary awakening, at this level of thinking one comes to realize how maximizing alternate & renewable energy technologies can benefit all-of-mankind in ways far beyond that of the automobile, computer or world wide web, as anyone living in a 3rd world country without access to energy can attest.

In placing public interest before special interests via a long-term energy policy committed to developing and deploying clean alternate energy technologies (while helping developing countries do likewise via investment capital and technology exportation) the U.S. can fill a humanitarian and global leadership void which terror organizations and extremist governments prey upon – thereby curtailing the spread of anti-Americanism and terrorism.

Energy is the precursor for economic development and social progress. For many disadvantaged 3rd world countries the missing catalyst for poverty alleviation, economic development and social progress is access to affordable, regional energy technologies.

Utilizing America’s scientific, technical, and entrepreneurial drive, combined with a sense of national purpose and determination; we can not only realize energy independence within our own borders, but also insure a more balanced energy supply around the world – leading the way to a cleaner more prosperous and secure planet for all its inhabitants.

From economic prosperity, homeland security, foreign relations, global climate stability, to alleviating poverty and terrorism, for better or worse, all roads intersect at America’s Next Energy Policy.

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