COSTLY ENERGY CHOICES DON'T BOOST SECURITY

Bob Tippee
Editor

The pursuit of fantasy does nothing for national security.

The Democratic Party needs that reminder. If Republicans keep acting like they don't believe in anything, Democrats might reclaim a house of Congress or two next November. And in 2008, who knows?

It's conceivable, therefore, that the party now in opposition might soon have to quit nagging and start leading. Then it will be best for everyone if they know what they're doing.

On energy, doubts on this score emerge in a document published Mar. 29 entitled Real Security: The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World.

Among promises to "rebuild a state-of-the-art military" and "eliminate Osama Bin Laden" appears this: "Achieve energy independence for America by 2020 by eliminating reliance on oil from the Middle East and other unstable regions of the world."

It's not clear whether the goal is genuine energy independence or independence only from oil from the Middle East and a few exporters elsewhere. The difference is large. Genuine energy independence is unachievable and, as a policy goal, fanciful. Independence from oil from the Middle East is at least theoretically achievable and, as a policy goal, simply misguided.

Whatever the Democrats have in mind here, pursuit of the objective surely should include large additions to domestic supply such as might be available through oil and gas leasing of federal acreage now inaccessible to producers.

But Democrats have other ideas. Real Security calls on the country to "increase production of alternate fuels from America's heartland including biofuels, geothermal, clean coal, fuel cells, solar and wind; promote hybrid and flex fuel vehicle technology and manufacturing; enhance energy efficiency and conservation incentives."

To summarize: In service to national security, the Democrats would pursue fanciful or misguided energy goals by rejecting commercially proven and potentially large supply options in favor of consumption mandates and economically marginal energy sources that promise relatively tiny supply gains and great cost.

History does not uphold preemptive economic sacrifice as a security step. But to anyone who thinks the US can be genuinely independent on energy, such a strategy probably makes perfect sense.

(Online Mar. 31, 2006; author's e-mail: bobt@ogjonline.com)

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