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Monday, January 10, 2005

First Peak Oil Rant of the Year

Quoting from page 186 of Michael T. Klare's Blood and Oil:
Let me propose an alternative approach, one that has a chance of freeing us from our deepening dependency, from dangerous and immoral foreign commitments, and from the deceptive promise of independence: a national energy strategy of autonomy and integrity.

By autonomy I mean a situation in which we have acquired the self-reliance and freedom of action to extricate ourselves from the pernicious effects of petroleum dependency. We would not have to cease petroleum imports altogether. But we would have to find the will to say no to any conditions--whether in the form of diplomatic or security obligations--that come attached to the oil we want to buy. If a foreign producer were willing to sell American refiners petroleum at an affordable price and with no strings attached, they should be free to buy it. But any transaction that entailed an American security guarantee or any other political favor would be strictly off-limits.

By integrity I mean a state of affairs in which we make decisions on energy policy in accordance with fundamental American values and with a view to the nation's long-term interests. At the very least, integrity would require us to repudiate any arrangement with a foreign oil provider that obliged us to collude in despotism or the denial of basic human rights. It would also demand that we base any major decision on national energy strategy on a transparent assessment of the relative advantages and disadvantages of all the available options--not the kind of secretive, industry-weighted process the Bush-Cheney administration used to come up with the National Energy Policy of May 2001.

Integrity also entails respect for the environment and, much more important, for the needs of future generations. While we certainly have to reduce our reliance on foreign oil producers, we're not doing ourselves, or our posterity, any favors by defacing our few remaining wilderness areas in the pursuit of an insignificant, short-term increase in domestic crude production. Nor are we promoting our nation's long-term interests by gorging ourselves on cheap oil at the expense of our children's and grandchildren's welfare. Recognizing the obvious--that petroleum is a finite resource and that our successors are going to have to rely on other sources of energy--we have an obligation to lighten their burden by taking steps now to ease the way.