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Congressman Virgil Goode is right when he calls for a broad brush approach to energy. There is no magic bullet that will solve our energy needs.
The first thing we need to do is drill wherever oil may be found. The House "Democrats'" drilling bill falls well short on this count. It limits offshore drilling to beyond 50 miles from the coast and requires coastal states to agree. Otherwise, drilling is limited to beyond 100 miles from the shoreline. It doesn't provide for sharing royalty payments with these states, so they'll have no incentive to agree.
The "Democrats'" bill is just an attempt to make it look like they are doing something when, in fact, they are catering to the environmental extremists who carry so much more clout in that party than do working class Americans. But then, working class Americans don't attend $28,000 a plate party fundraisers.
Drilling everywhere means making all offshore areas open to oil exploration and, if oil and gas are found, to production. Drilling everywhere also means drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Preserve (ANWR), and not just in limited portions of it either. Drilling, both onshore and offshore, can be done in ways that minimize its environmental impact. I think it will also be in the oil companies best interest to do everything they can to avoid oil spills, considering the price they're getting for the stuff.
Drilling isn't the answer by itself as we probably have a limited supply of domestic crude left. However, even if it only takes a dozen years to drink it all, that's a dozen years that we have to find alternative sources of energy. Boosting domestic oil production buys us time.
Biofuels, while not the total answer, are a piece of the energy puzzle and the government has a role here. The immediate action that the federal government needs to take is to eliminate the 54-cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol. The current tariff only benefits corn farmers, at the expense livestock farmers, including Bedford County beef cattle farmers, and everybody who eats anything that involves corn. Let corn based ethanol stand on its own feet and compete with the Brazilian sugarcane based stuff. If it can't, we can always go back to eating our corn, and selling it to Mexico, like we did until recently.
A longer term government involvement is to fund research into making ethanol from other things, like switchgrass and Miscanthus giganteus. These plants are less likely to compete with food crops as they grow well on marginal land. The government can also fund research on producing ethanol from various cellulosic sources. Success here could even allow us to use cellulosic waste that currently has to be disposed of.
Once commercially viable processes are developed, the government could, temporarily, provide subsidies or tax breaks to help get production rolling. I want to stress the temporary nature of this government aid because, at some point, the training wheels need to come off so that these guys won't become permanent taxpayer dependents.
Private industry is hot on the trail of viable electric cars. Batteries have always been the electric car's weak point. Short range and long recharge times are why electric cars lost out to internal combustion engine powered cars before World War I. New battery technology may be available in the near future which could remedy these problems.
This calls for generating electricity and we have proven technologies for to do it. I'm talking about coal and nuclear power. We have lots of coal and coal fired power plants can generate cheap electricity. Furthermore, France, which gets most of it's electricity from nuclear power, is proof that that can be done safely.
Both parties need to put the interest of working class people first and do what ever it takes to provide for America's energy needs.