We knew this day would come. We knew oil prices would break through the $100 ceiling. We knew gas prices would soar past $4 a gallon. We knew China and India would demand bigger pieces of the petroleum pie. The White House and Detroit automakers say they are shocked, shocked, by the death of cheap gasoline, but plenty of Cassandras--including policy makers, executives, and politicians--have been foretelling this event for years. So if we knew it was coming, why haven’t our leaders developed a plan to cope with it?
Where is America’s plan for creating a cleaner, most secure energy future?
It is missing in action, because we got the Dick Cheney Energy Plan instead. That’s the one that looked for answers in the past--burn more coal, drill more oil--rather than 21st century solutions like biofuels, more efficient cars, and renewable energy sources.
Many forces conspire to raise the price of oil. But when you are experiencing sticker shock at the gas pump or when you are hearing politicians say they just don’t know how we got into this fix, remember the single most important policy that helped land us here: The Cheney Energy Plan.
Let’s take a look at the hallmarks of the plan and see how they are serving America today.1. Let the Wolves Guard the Hen House
Cheney’s Energy Task Force was conducted largely in secret. NRDC and our partners had to sue the government to gain access to the records of what should be public business. Once we reviewed the files, it became clear that entire sections of the energy plan were written by industry insiders--the very people and companies the government is charged with regulating.
What difference did it make? Oil companies registered record profits throughout this administration, and Americans are picking up the tab at the gas pump.2. Drill, Drill, and Drill Again.
Cheney’s plan gave away millions of acres of pristine public lands so oil and gas companies could expand their drill pads and deepen their pockets.
Where does that leave us? Considering the United States is home to only 3 percent of world’s oil supply, the new wells did little to change the dynamics of the global market. And still, Americans who live near some of those once-beautiful wildlands are spending up to 16 percent of their income on gasoline.3. Don’t Give an Inch on Global Warming
Back on the 2000 campaign trail, Bush claimed he would take action to curb global warming. Then Cheney gathered his task force, and everything changed. NRDC’s lawsuit to gain access to Cheney’s records found documents that show how the coal industry and an industry-funded think tank helped convince President Bush to renege on his campaign promise.
The result? America holds the ignoble distinction of being the single remaining hold out on climate progress in the world. America is also years behind in promoting the renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions that will get us out of this mess. And thanks to our delay, it will cost companies, consumers, and the government more money to finally address the issue than it would if we had stuck with Bush’s campaign promise.
You can judge for yourselves how well you think the Cheney Energy Plan is working for you and your fellow Americans. From my point of view, I think it is doing an excellent job of helping oil companies, but it has left the rest of the nation eight years behind in solving what we already knew would be a challenge: creating a clean energy future.