Tom Friedman has written another insightful post that pretty much states how President Bush and the Bush administration has once again failed to lead when we need leadership the most. In his latest opinion column here Tom describes how, once again, President Bush has shown no inventiveness and no orginality in his energy policies. When oil peaked over the past two weeks around $145 per barrel, what was the President’s “response”? To rescind the executive order that has been in place since Bush I’s administration that banned drilling for oil and gas off the coast of the United States on the continental shelf. Of course there’s also a law on the books that bans that as well (and has been on the books since the early 80s) so in effect what President Bush has done is a) meaningless, and b) partisan (in a major way).

How is it partisan? I’m glad you asked. Well this way President Bush can shift the blame on Congress which just happens to be controlled by the Democrats. He now “demands” that Congress rescind the ban on offshore oil drilling that has been on the books since the early 80s in order to bring the price of oil down. And partisan? Just look to see what he said in the Rose Garden back on June 18th:

“If congressional leaders leave for the 4th of July recess without taking action,” Bush said Wednesday in a Rose Garden appearance, “they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act. And Americans will rightly ask … how high gas prices have to rise before the Democratic-controlled Congress will do something about it.”

“Bush leads calls to drill off U.S. shore”, Chicago Tribune, June 19th 2008, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-oil-politics-19-jun19,0,728128.story

How lame to use the blame the current pain Americans are feeling at the pump and in their pocketbooks solely on the Democrats.

And his solution? More drilling! Mind you, it takes years to bring an oil field on-line and in production to where it will add to the oil reserves. So in essence this would do nothing for the price of gas at the pump right now. Interestingly enough even President Bush admits that it won’t have an immediate effect. As his own spokesman pointed out:

“Anyone out there saying that something can be done overnight, or in a matter of months, to deal with high gasoline prices is trying to fool people. There is no tool in the toolbox out there that will lower gas prices overnight, or in weeks, or probably not even in months.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto, White House Press Briefing, June 18, 2008, from http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080618/20080618006247.html?.v=1

And President Bush himself has said that it would take years for production to start. But those would be wasted years where we could focus on alternative, renewable energy technologies and efforts that get us off the OPEC needle and reduces our carbon output. Only last Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore called for the U.S. to be completely carbon free in our energy production and consumption within 10 years. 10 years! That was the same time frame John F. Kennedy set for putting a man on the moon. And we did it in less time than that…Kennedy made that call in May of 1961 and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon in July of 1969! Just a little more than 8 years later. We can do the same with our energy infrastructure if we put our minds and our efforts toward that goal. But not with a George W. Bush or a John McCain at the helm. McCain himself has said that lifting the ban will be a key part of his energy policy should he be elected President (“Bush Urges Congress to Lift Offshore Drilling Ban”, Federal News Radio, June 18, 2008, http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=78&pid=&sid=1423781&page=2).

More drilling is not the answer. We need a much sounder policy that focuses our efforts on renewable energy and energy conservation. But what can you expect from a President who, he himself, admits that he doesn’t read the newspapers. Hopefully Barack Obama does.

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