Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 6, 2009
Now that I've attended a few panel discussions here at the Offshore Technology Conference, it's abundantly clear that many of the speakers are in agreement over the issues that threaten America's ability to plan for a secure energy future. They mention the lack of bipartisanship in Congress, the fact that the oil and natural gas industry has been "demonized" by its critics, and the tone and content of the national debate over energy policy. As Karen Harbert of the Institute for 21st Century Energy said yesterday, the ongoing energy conversation has been "captured" by those who have their own agenda.
Several speakers said that there is widespread agreement that our nation needs wind and solar power. In fact, we need every form of energy available; but as a nation, we have to be realistic. Solar and wind should be a part of our energy portfolio, however these resources alone won't power transportation in the near future. Therefore, liquid fuels are a necessity. But where will they come from? The conference speakers say the U.S. lacks the political will to explore for, and produce, more oil and natural gas.
So where does that leave us? Think about it this way: our economy is like a locomotive moving along a railroad track that isn't finished. As it barrels along, the construction crew argues over where the tracks should be placed or whether a diesel-powered train is truly needed. While they philosophize, the train continues to roll along toward an uncertain future. Will the construction crew stop arguing in time to keep the economy on its tracks?
In Karen Harbert's view, the impending train wreck will be avoided by the nearby villagers who will push the construction crew out of the way and finish the tracks themselves. In other words, the American people will come together, reach consensus on energy and keep the economy rolling along.
"Sentiment is changing materially, and American citizens are mobilizing through grassroots movements," Karen said. "As they grow weary of the stalemate over energy policy in Congress, they will gather the picks and shovels and keep America moving."
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