Treating an Oil Addiction

John Cole's got a sensible post on the need for a new energy strategy, but I think he forgets that he doesn't have a sensible party:

It never ceases to amaze me how silly many on the left are about the prospect of drilling in ANWR. Any reasonable solution to our dependence on foreign oil should include:

1.) Domestic drilling

2.) Research for alternative fuel sources

3.) Increased Cafe standards

4.) Radical improvements to clean Coal

5.) Nuclear plant construction and research in storage of nuclear waste

6.) Tax credits and incentives for fuel efficient vehicles, energy efficient appliances, energy efficient homes

7.) Increased refining capacity

8.) Increase oil exploration and smart extraction policies

9.) Conservation campaigns

Exactly right. But here's the problem -- Bush's energy strategy doesn't include that. If Bush stepped forward with that energy strategy -- particularly an increase in CAFE standards -- I'd kill the goddamn caribou myself to help it pass. But he's not. There's been no increase in CAFE standards, no effort to promote conservation, no coherent effort to construct an incentive structure that values fuel-efficient vehicles over inefficient ones, and not enough money to research alternative fuels.

Our addiction to oil is a problem that gets worse the longer we keep it. So the worry of many liberals, myself included, is that ANWR is just another attempt to delay the energy reckoning, and in so doing we'll be make that inevitable day much harder. To complete the addiction comparison, if my friend's terribly addicted to cigarettes and wants to quit, buying him another carton so he can smoke a reduced number each day, if I do it in addition to counseling and gum-chewing and nicotine patches and whatever else, might make sense, but simply buying him another carton of cigarettes without any of the treatment aids that'll help kill his addiction makes no sense at all. ANWR, on its own, doesn't make sense, it's simply a way to feed our addiction. That doesn't mean I couldn't support it as part of a better package, but it does mean I can't support it now.

Update: To be clear, I don't think we should drill ANWR, and in a perfect world I'd prefer we didn't. But despite my opposition, I do realize that a workable energy package will need to satisfy those who believe we should still be drilling towards independence, not only those who argue for the end of fossil fuels. As such, I'd support ANWR in order to pass a larger, more visionary package. That package, however, has not materialized, and until it does there's no good reason to support drilling the ANWR.

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