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GM Hummer H2
Under the author's plan, a whopping $4 a gallon federal tax would be implemented over ten years to encourage carmakers and drivers alike to be more conservative in their vehicle choices. People could still buy gas-guzzlers like this Hummer H2, but they'd pay for it... big time!

How I'd Write A National Energy Plan

A conservative Republican accountant tackles the energy policy nut with a blend of expanded production and tax-based conservation

By Joseph Bertozzi

Editors Note: Mr. Bertozzi characterizes himself as quite possibly "the only conservative Republican among your readers." Which only goes to prove that there's no accounting people's taste in literature.

Oil production:
The United States currently has an estimated 22 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, a mere shadow of what it once was. Contrary to the opinion of many in my own party, we will never produce enough domestically to meet all of our current needs. However, we would be remiss in exploiting all possible avenues of domestic exploration and production. There is too much at stake to leave a potential reserve as large as ANWR untouched. At the risk of being combative, I would rather risk a few caribou than have young Marines fighting to protect mideast oil.

Natural Gas::
The utilization of natural gas for electricity production is a waste of a precious resource. Our ever shrinking supply of natural gas should be preserved for residential and commercial applications. It is also very economical for transportation and fleet vehicle conversions. The establishment of new LNG port facilities, despite being imported energy, will help decrease our dependence on mideast sources of energy. Russia has massive natural gas deposits, which they have yet to exploit.

Coal::
Despite my self-professed ignorance of environmental matters, I do appreciate that coal is a relatively dirty fossil fuel. However, the U.S. happens to have the world’s largest reserves. This resource cannot be ignored, especially since it generates over 50% of our electricity. Advancements in clean coal technology have significantly decreased emissions from coal-fired utilities, however, the federal government could certainly do more to encourage a more aggressive phase out of older facilities. There is no question that a clean coal generator is preferred over a new natural gas generator from a national security perspective.

Nuclear::
The approximately 100 nuclear power plants currently in operation in the U.S. account for over 20% of our national electricity production. This could easily be doubled in light of more permanent waste storage solutions at the Yucca Mountain storage facility. It would be especially useful in the production of hydrogen from water, which has long-term implications if hydrogen proves to be the long-term (25-50 years) energy solution.

Alternative Energy Sources::
This is the area that holds the greatest potential. The costs to generate solar and wind energy continues to decrease annually. A more aggressive government subsidy policy is needed here for a ten-year period in order to accelerate economies of scale. I should point out that this is the only area that my National Energy Policy requires government financial assistance. Extensive exploitation of wind resources in the Midwest, specifically the Dakotas, could be a significant contributor to the grid. Likewise, solar potential in the Southwest alone could be massive. Both wind and solar, if properly exploited, could also be very useful in hydrogen electrolysis.

Conservation::
This is one area where I differ significantly from others in my party. Just as liberals are more than willing to risk national security for the sake of a few caribou, conservatives believe the right to drive an SUV is enshrined in the Constitution. A POX ON BOTH OUR HOUSES!! I have traveled extensively in this world and have come to realize that we Americans seem to be genetically and culturally programmed to waste resources. Everything from our food packaging to our system of taxation is geared toward conspicuous consumption, massive trade deficits, mountains of landfills and energy dependence.

This is not because Americans are either stupid or evil. We’re actually behaving quite rationally. Behavior will change when the pain exceeds the pleasure. Afterall, gasoline costs less than it did 20 years ago, why not drive an SUV? I propose a revenue-neutral solution. You would be hard pressed to find an individual more tax-averse than I. My premise is that we simply choose to impose our taxes on the wrong base. Please consider the following recommendations:

In summary, there’s enough fodder in my plan to tick off just about everyone. However, at the end of the day, Americans are going to have to face up to the fact that we’re a nation at war. And a major reason we’re in this war is our dependence on trading with people that are willing to sell to us, but would prefer to kill us. Liberals will have to get off their high horse about coal, nuclear power and ANWR. Conservatives are going to have to give up their SUVs and pick-up trucks and accept higher consumption taxes.

If we don’t take these steps now, China’s oil demand curve is going to eat us alive. Throughout history, the major cause of war has been the quest for natural resources. My daughter is going to face a very ugly future indeed if we don’t conquer this addiction. In ten years time we can be energy independent, or we can continue to drain the treasury to protect our precious sea lanes to Saudi Arabia. The choice is ours to make.

Times Article Viewed: 7239
Published: 23-Jan-2004

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