This morning, the Administration announced its intent to pursue a billion dollars towards promoting less gasoline dependent cars. While details are still coming in about the Administrations plans, the emphasis is clear: America needs more electric and other alternative-fuel cars on its roads. Domestic-based fuels, from algae biofuels being tested by the Navy to E85 to coal-powered electricity, are necessary to keep America safe. The promised amount is equivalent to one day’s expenditure on foreign oil – a billion dollars a day hemorrhaging from the American economy to states and regions both unstable and hostile to American interests.
The move makes sense in several contexts. (1) High gas prices are squeezing the American consumer and putting pressure on the White House to find energy solutions. (2) Tensions with Iran are mounting in the wake of this week’s AIPAC meetings and potential disruptions could send oil prices through the roof. (3) Recent announcement of settlements for BP oil spill victims have reminded the public of some of the dangers of domestic drilling. (4) Build on successful projects like “Cash for Clunkers” in hopes of regaining the momentum on his energy policy.
Funding for the program is likely to be contested in Congress. Mike Breen, Vice President of the Truman National Security Project testified this morning:
“Congress must also act to ensure that Americans have alternatives to oil. There is no single solution, no sliver bullet, that can break oil’s grip on our national fortunes. Fortunately, Congress has silver buckshot in its arsenal. At a minimum, we need robust research and development into a broad range of alternative fuels and vehicle technologies, support for communities across America as they transition their infrastructure to support alternative vehicles, and tax incentives for families and small businesses that purchase those alternative vehicles.”
Another aspect of the debate is likely to be jobs. The American auto-manufacturing sector is losing ground to foreign competition. Look for the administration to tout the job-creating reality of clean energy programs.
But the move is also a policy winner. America’s reliance on foreign oil makes us less safe, a fact that the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the National Intelligence Council have all attested to. Often money we spend to buy oil makes its way through the sluices to terrorists to use against the U.S. And while America could divert some funding towards domestic drilling, the proven reserves of the US are small, and would be depleted quickly. In light of that geopolitical reality, moving to less oil-reliant cars is a necessity.
Oil dependency makes America less safe. It’s time for good ideas like these.