This was an idea that I first formulated back when Jimmy Carter was president back in the late ’70s when OPEC was pushing us around, Iran was holding us hostage and gas prices had made a big jump. Over the next several years these issues faded from prominence, but reawakened with 9/11 and the wars in the Middle East. So at that time, I put together my thoughts, and mailed them off to Pres. Bush. (Naturally, he sent back a nice form letter concerning his stand on energy issues.)
Take a look at this, then ponder a few questions.
President George W. Bush August 25, 2003
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Mr. President,
In light of the current state of affairs in the world – the war, tension in the Middle East, energy instability and concerns about the environment, I humbly put forward this suggestion:
What if, by action of Congress and the President, regulation was passed to gradually wean our nation off of imported oil. The way we might do this would be to set a baseline quantity of oil that would be imported for each month of the year – maybe XX million barrels in May and ZZ million in August. Then, after the regulation came into effect, we would reduce the quantity of oil imported by an additional 1% each month. Hence, in May we would import 99% of its baseline quantity, in June – 98% of its baseline quantity, in July – 97% of its baseline quantity and so on. After 100 months we would be weaned from imported oil.
I believe this would have the following effects over the next 8 plus years:
It would dramatically improve our trade deficit.
It would dramatically decrease OPEC’s influence on world politics.
We wouldn’t have to extend ourselves so far militarily to protect our ‘oil interests’.
It would allow domestic market demands to set presumably more stable energy prices.
It would allow energy prices to gradually rise over the years so that:
1. Domestic oil companies could see higher profits with which they could build less polluting facilities, adapt to the changing nature of oil supply, invest in alternative energy possibilities and pursue more aggressive exploration. (My hunch would be that most environmentalists would be willing to trade expanded exploration for the many benefits of the overall decrease in oil usage.)
2. There would be a drop in petroleum related pollution.
3. The public would place renewed effort in conservation and recycling.
4. Entrepreneurs and inventors would have much improved incentive to risk, especially if oil prices were rising in a slow, stable and predictable manner.
5. Farmers would benefit from the greater demand for ethanol, soy diesel and other energy related products.
6. Automobile, petrochemical and all other industries influenced by rising energy prices would have a substantial period of time to adapt and innovate.
Americans are asking what sacrifice they can make for their country during this time of war. A change such as this would require only minor sacrifice for Americans over the long term, while providing a bounty of benefits.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on my proposal.
Thank you for your consideration,
Sooo … if this policy would have been put into practice back when Jimmy was president:
Would we have seen much greater innovation in energy technology and fuel efficiency over the past 35 years?
Would ‘petro – dictators’ in Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela and numerous other nations fallen from influence with fewer markets in which to sell there oil?
Would there have been a first Gulf War?
Would there have been a 9/11? … or Al Qaida?
Would we be in a better position to combat climate change?
Just a thought … DonC