Neither President Obama, Congress nor the American public can ignore the moment now for organizing and launching a crash program to conserve energy and develop new sources to ultimately reduce the nation’s reliance on petroleum.
It’s not the drama of the Gulf oil spill that should stir the nation into action. It’s the astronomical costs to the nation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Costs to the public purse will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps billions, when the spill results in long-term economic hardship for thousands of workers and businesses in fishing, maritime industries and tourism along the coast—lost business and personal income, lost tax revenues, lost retail sales, lost homes. Yes, a bailout, but not because of any fault of the victims of BP’s bungling.
No one had the foresight to anticipate such a spill. But imagine the strides America could have taken in new energy programs had the dollars now destined for the BP mess been devoted to research and development programs on the magnitude of the World War II A-bomb Manhattan project or the moon landings.
Obama must press, too, for a new fuel tax to underwrite energy development. Congress must approve his call to end senseless tax breaks for oil firms that reap billions of dollars in annual profits. Incentives must be developed for business and residential energy conservation through solar and wind generation.
Clean energy technology is available now, merely awaiting the same lavish political support and favoritism that oil is accorded so generously in Washington.