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Japan Disaster a Wake-Up Call on Energy Policy

The frightening images and possible real fallout from the nuclear plants in Japan force us to refocus on our own energy plans.

Is nothing safe? Is our insatiable appetite for cheap energy a road to ruin? How do we maintain our need to grow the economy and provide jobs and opportunity while recognizing our responsibility to the environment and the planet we leave behind to our children?

On both sides of this hotly debated issue, the left and the right have played political games and our leadership has abandoned us, afraid of the political fallout. The result has been a wrong-headed and piecemeal U.S. energy policy, accompanied by soaring prices along with unsustainable and profligate energy use.

From the right, there has been a plea for ever more oil - a clarion call of "drill, baby, drill" - where the focus is on finding ever greater supplies and the result is increased economic and personal addiction to energy, both from domestic and imported sources. The right fights CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations, insists on immediately allowing deepwater drilling to resume in the Gulf despite the BP (BP) disaster. The right also wants to see a second Alaskan pipeline built to open up North Slope exploration, opposed Kyoto and other congressionally-passed climate control guidelines and thinks that "cap and trade"' is a four-letter word.

The left acts as if electricity is created at the wall socket and gasoline springs out of a pump from the local gas station like water from a well. They believe that somehow this nation would be better off without the 9 million jobs that the energy industry today supports. They cry foul at the first indication of risk in energy procurement, wherever it appears -- the BP spill resulted in a call for a permanent end to deepwater drilling in the Gulf. The propaganda documentary Gasland was accompanied by a demand for an end to shale hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus, Haynesville and Barnett regions and elsewhere. Three Mile Island ended this country's nuclear plans for the last 25 years, and this latest crisis in Japan will make new permits even more impossible to obtain (is it possible to be more impossible?)

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