Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 07:39:40 PM EST
George W. Bush gave his state of the union address yesterday, and suggested that the U.S. should wean itself from foreign oil, setting a goal of substantial reduction in imports of the Middle East over the next decade. This has triggered an uproar from American Democrats, who say he's not proposing enough, from OPEC, who say he's proposing too much, and, surprizingly, from the E.U. President who says that it's unrealistic.
Is it possible that Bush's oilman friends have clued him in on the energy consumption issue? Is it possible that the U.S. may actually embark on an energy independence program?
"Bush's oil declaration was one of his strongest statements on the need for the United States to wean itself from an oil-based economy, made all the more notable because of Bush's personal, professional and political ties to the Texas oil industry. The American addiction to oil is particularly dangerous because it "is often imported from unstable parts of the world," Bush said, calling for a 75% reduction of U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil by 2025."
As might be expected, Democrats don't agree with his approach--although they don't deny the underlying problem. "A former oil executive telling us we are addicted to oil is like a tobacco company executive complaining that their employees take too many smoke breaks. Exxon made almost $11 billion last quarter, while Americans are paying surging prices to fill their gas tanks and heat their homes." - Paul Hackett, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate
The Democratic response, and the Republican response to their response, is predictable partisan politics as usual. The OPEC response is sensible and predictable also. "Everyone knows the world will continue to depend on Middle East imports."
What is surprizing, though, is that "Martin Bartenstein, economics minister of Austria, which holds the EU presidency, said the Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil reserves, would become more rather than less important. He told the FT: "As the person responsible for EU energy policies, I would not see myself in a position of talking about such a significant decrease in demand from a certain region. We know that the oil import dependency of the EU will ever increase, not decrease.""
Perhaps America is about to turn the corner. The Evangelical Christian right wing is beginning to see the picture (http://www.creationcare.org), the oilmen see the picture, and the Democrats have seen the picture (although ignored it) for a while. Is it possible that the U.S. will now embark on a concerted program of energy conservation leading to "independence" from imported oil? Is it possible that America might steer in the right direction, as Europe continues on the old, wrong path?