While these figures claim to want policies that will free America from foreign energy sources, they simultaneously forbid policies that would utilize abundant domestic energy sources such as nuclear power, coal, natural gas and offshore oil.  Want Energy Independence?  Drill Offshore, Go Nuclear. 

Politicians and commentators on the left incessantly seek cheap political points by advocating "energy independence." 

The only problem is that they clearly don't mean it. 

While these figures claim to want policies that will free America from foreign energy sources, they simultaneously forbid policies that would utilize abundant domestic energy sources such as nuclear power, coal, natural gas and offshore oil. 

The simple reason is that true energy independence is incompatible with the environmentalist agenda, which trails only Big Labor in its stranglehold over liberal politicians.  The snowballing hysteria surrounding "climate change," that pseudo-religion formerly known as "global warming" before environmentalists determined that a broader definition was required, simply won't allow them to follow through on the measures that will truly reduce our dependence upon often-hostile foreign regimes for our energy needs. 

The mainstream media, of course, is all too willing to amplify the environmentalists' cacophony. 

The simple, inescapable fact is that America needs enormous amounts of energy to power its economy and lifestyle.  This isn't the result of mere gluttony, carelessness or some vast conspiracy by "Big Oil" or other convenient bogeymen.  Rather, we need energy to produce our food, power our transportation, move our goods, communicate, defend ourselves against foreign and domestic enemies and for everything else that makes our lifestyle the envy of the rest of the world. 

Reducing American dependence upon suspect Middle Eastern, Venezuelan and Nigerian oil, however, will require greater use of vast domestic reservoirs of offshore oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear capabilities. 

On the issue of offshore oil reservoirs, the continental shelf holds an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil, as well as 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Since 1982, however, most of these areas remain off-limits to exploration, despite the fact that they extend far beyond America's coastlines and discovery would be subject to all environmental regulations. 

Even Cuba intends to drill off the coast of Florida, despite the fact that American companies still cannot. 

Fortunately, the Bush Administration is now proposing domestic energy leasing along the outer continental shelf, with an estimated reward of 10 billion barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over the next 40 years.  Moving forward on this proposal, however, will require the Administration to stand up to predictable hysteria from environmentalists. 

Nuclear energy is another effective source of independent energy, but similarly subject to irrational environmentalist furor.  Just like environmentalist-favored renewable energy sources, nuclear energy produces very few so-called "greenhouse gas" emissions or other pollutants.  Unlike those more environmentally-trendy renewables, however, nuclear energy can actually produce vast amounts of power with greater reliability because it is not subject to changes in wind or sunlight fluctuations. 

The good news is that nuclear power has begun a revival in recent years.  The 2005 Energy Policy Act and other favorable new regulations may lead to construction of the first new nuclear plants in decades in America. 

At every step, unfortunately, powerful environmental interests prevent utilization of these plentiful, common-sense resources.  Instead, they advocate silly and technologically- ineffective power sources such as solar and wind power, which suffer the additional disadvantage of requiring wasteful government subsidies. 

These environmental special interests also prefer to impose greater and greater levels of government command-and-control restrictions, such as carbon emissions caps and inefficient cap-and-trade schemes.  Their efforts have proven increasingly successful in pressuring corporations and American political leaders to accept these methods, despite the fact that they have utterly failed in every single European nation where they have been imposed. 

Accordingly, the battle lines are clear.  Reducing America's dependence upon foreign energy sources would indeed benefit the country in both the short-term and long-term. 

To do so, however, we must recognize environmentalists' hysteria for what it is, and be more willing to pursue sensible, safe energy sources such as nuclear power and massive offshore oil and gas reservoirs. 

And we can no longer allow double-talking liberal politicians and commentators to have it both ways. 

May 11, 2007
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