Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Carter the Prophet

Three years ago I wrote this post about Jimmy Carter not being such a bad President. One of his staffers wrote this editorial in the Philadelphia Enquirer. (HT: Some Assembly Required).
I feel even more justified in my thoughts as Carter was right about energy policy (bold text my own):

In 1979 he issued a Presidential Message to the Congress, charting a path to increased reliance on solar energy, renewable resources and conservation, and setting a goal: 20 percent of our energy needs were to be met by solar and renewable resources by the year 2000.

The message envisioned a broad range of measures to reduce the nation's oil dependency. Among them were developing and applying technologies to reduce energy consumption in industry and in the home; wind-generated electricity; biomass fuel sources; and environmentally safe ways to burn and use coal.

If we let cheap oil lull us into inactivity, Carter warned, "we could endanger our freedom as a sovereign nation to act in foreign affairs." He saw our oil addiction as a threat to our national security, and he urged the nation to break free of it.

Carter saw solar power as a key to America's energy independence. Energy from the sun would be clean and safe, and would provide a non-polluting insurance policy against the rising cost of imported oil.

As a demonstration of his commitment, Carter directed that solar collectors be installed on the roof of the White House.

He proposed the creation of a Solar Bank to provide capital at subsidized rates for the development and application of solar technologies.

Congress responded by passing legislation to create the bank.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan moved into the White House. The solar collectors were removed. The Solar Bank was abandoned; when asked when its board of directors would meet, a high administration official said, "Never."

Instead of achieving energy independence, we became a nation of energy gluttons, beholden to dictators who are our suppliers but not our friends.

And with what dire consequences. We are paying about $4 a gallon for gasoline. We have fought two wars in the Middle East. Whatever justifications may be given, one may wonder what national interest would have required those wars if we had not needed the oil.

And we have spawned a deadly terrorist organization - al-Qaeda - by our very presence in Saudi Arabia.

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