Monday, January 03, 2005

Energy independence

Here's an idea to help wean ourselves off Middle East oil.

Why don't people buy Hybrid cars?

Part of the reason is price and the fact that the auto companies haven't been pushing them hard. In order to encourage hybrid car use, the federal government offers a $1500 tax credit for purchase. Now that's a good idea and all, but what does it really accomplish? Seems to me like the government is just wasting money by throwing nickels and dimes at it. Why not, if we are serious about energy independence, offer a $10,000 tax credit? That would make hybrid cars cheaper to buy than the traditional solely gas-powered vehicles. Also, allow the auto makers to deduct advertising costs for hybrids from their corporate taxes, so consumers can hear about these fine cars.

Here's another idea. Let's expand our use of nuclear power. Europe has figured this out. Nuclear power in the West has a phenomenal safety record, so it's time for Greens to quit whining. It's also environmentally cleaner than coal or gas powered plants, provided you can dispose of the waste, which we can. But for right now, in light of the war on terror and the importance of self-suffiency, we should get off oil as much as possible. Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist, has been going on and on about a "Manhattan Project" in energy. We don't need one. We already have alternative sources that we aren't using because oil is just more cost-effective and our infrastructure is currently built around using lots of oil.

I see no reason why we can't bring our oil usage down to the point where domestic supplies more than cover it. We should be a net oil exporter, not a net oil importer. It would also do wonders for our trade balance and current account deficit. I think a President should lead on this and make it a goal to totally wean off foreign, or at least Middle Eastern, oil, within 20 years. It can be done, and it starts with hybrid cars.