Today is Independence Day in the U.S. and folks all over this land are wondering if Americans will stand up and declare their energy independence. Where’s the group that will call for a rethink of America’s energy policies?
It turns out a number of groups are calling for adjustments to the Bush energy policy; and one coalition has even created a “Declaration of Energy Independence,” which starts off humorously enough but then just turns into an attack on Ford, one of the US companies that actually has developed a hybrid. That’s where they lose me.
“I know that America can do better than another oil dominated energy policy, and I want real investments in new energy now,” begins the petition to Bush posted by the Apollo Alliance “I call on you to find the courage, vision, and common sense to reject big-oil dominated energy legislation which makes us more dependent on foreign oil.”
Then Apollo asks for an energy policy that commits to investments in energy conservation, new energy industries, and re-tooling for high-performance energy efficiency, and pollution reducing technologies. Okay, I can buy that. Such investments will help fuel our new economy -- one we desperately need.
They also post three speeches by Senators Cantwell, Durban, and Dorgan who came out in support of American Energy Independence. This in the wake of polls indicating, "9 in 10 Americans support a crash effort for reducing dependence on Middle East oil." They are politicians, of course, but make some interesting points.
Finally, “Set America Free” – a coalition of individuals, NGOs, and others have put forth a “Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security” that’s worth a look.
But all this makes me wonder: is it really energy independence we want or energy interdependence? Perhaps, as Pietro Nivola claimed in his 2002 essay in the Brookings Review, "Instead of futile planning to quarantine 'foreign energy providers,' U.S. policy should seek deeper integration with some of them, especially the ones next door."
We aren't going to be able to fill the gaps left by turning off the taps of foreign oil, not immediately at least; and some of our investments overseas are helping people get a leg up rather than fueling resentment towards America. Like it or not, even in the estimates of some of the most progressive economists, we're going to continue to need oil from other nations. In other words, let's be real about energy while asking Bush and the G8 to get real on climate change and poverty.
And this Independence Day, let’s recognize that we’re not alone in the world and call for a new Declaration of Interdependence -– on energy, the environment, and the global economy.