Today, in the midst of another round of energy price increases, I have heard a number of people hearken back to the days of President Carter, lamenting the fact that we didn't implement the alternative energy policies he endorsed.
What's interesting to me is the policy they often leave out. What was one of the fundamental planks of his energy policy platform?
For instance, in his April 1977 speech on energy, he said,
"We must conserve the fuels that are scarcest and make the most of those that are more plentiful. We can't continue to use oil and gas for 75 percent of our consumption when they make up seven percent of our domestic reserves. We need to shift to plentiful coal while taking care to protect the environment, and to apply stricter safety standards to nuclear energy."President Carter revisited his energy policy two years later, again advocating a significant increase in domestic coal production and use,
"I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source."Had we followed (or been allowed to follow) President Carter's advice, it's likely we'd all be driving electric powered cars right now, with electricity from coal power plants - as well as from alternative energy derived power plants. As technology advanced, those alternatives would have a ready market available to them, slowly replacing coal. $4 a gallon gasoline likely never would have happened, and if it did, nobody would care. We would have produced almost all of our own energy, rather than importing from the unstable Middle East - which robbed us of much of our sovereignty in foreign policy decisions. In fact, had we followed Mr. Carter's advice and used more coal, thereby reducing our dependence on foreign oil, the Middle East could be a vastly different place than it is now.
But who needs peace, prosperity, global stability, and economic freedom when you can create $140 a barrel oil and force "behavior changes" instead?