The mantra from John McCain’s presidential campaign was reinforced yesterday as he stood on the high-tech Genesis oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. At the appearance, originally scheduled two weeks ago but postponed due to a hurricane and major oil spill, McCain said in a prepared statement,
It is time for America to get serious about energy independence, and that means we need to start drilling offshore at advanced oil rigs like this.”
The advanced rig from which McCain spoke those words represents an environmental risk great enough to require the coast guard to set up a “safety zone” around it to prevent accidents – much like the 420,000 gallons spilled in July that delayed his appearance.
But what does “getting serious” about energy mean if on one hand the solution is boiled down – dumbed down – to two words and on the other hand the pace of oil exports from the U.S. moves along at the record pace of 1.8 million barrels a day?
In a public letter to George Bush, Edward Markey, Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence asks the president to keep our oil at home, pointing out that
…..at the current export rate, by the time the first barrel of oil could be produced from increased offshore drilling, America would have already exported the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of the oil that is projected to lie beneath protected areas offshore.
John McCain speaks of “energy independence” and yet his own independence is called into question when:
McCain’s national finance co-chairman Wayne Berman has lobbied for Chevron since 2004
Chief Congressional liaison John Green has lobbied for Chevron since 2005
McCain fundraiser Richard Hohlt has also lobbied for Chevron since 2005
Who do you suppose owns the rig that McCain stood on while talking of energy independence? Chevron of course (in joint ownership with Exxon/Mobile).
And yet, the blame for such an obviously flawed and manipulated discussion of energy policy cannot be laid solely at McCain’s feet, or the Republican’s, Democrat’s, even George Bush’s or – and this is hard for me – Dick Cheney’s.
The belly-aching for more drilling comes from those that would choose a president based on his willingness to enable and continue what conservative writer Andrew Bacevich calls our “domestic dysfunction”.
Interviewed last week on Bill Moyers Journal, Bacevich says the absolute and utter failure of our leaders is based largely on the inability of the American public – We the People – to “look at themselves in the mirror” and demand better from our leaders for fear of losing our own indulgent ways; prisoners of our own ‘freedom of consumption’.
Coddled and expectant of an endless stream of cheap consumer goods acquired with cheap credit, all washed down with ever-flowing cheap oil, the reflection we’d see if we did look would be too uncomfortable, so we take the easy way out. Two words.
Bacevich sees one of the most stark failures of our time, if things don’t change fast, as our failure to bravely and seriously face our unsustainable energy economy. We’ve known of the serious consequences of it since the 1970’s. Yet, the nation virtually laughed Jimmy Carter out of office when he attempted to address the growing trend of our over-dependence on oil, foreign or otherwise, opting instead for the easier-to-swallow message of It’s morning in America from Ronald Reagan.
This is America. A place that purports to embody the human enlightenment borne of the extraordinary vision of its founders.
Now is the time for this country to reclaim the courage and vision of its founding, forgoing the hubris and mindlessly empty bluster of recent years. We can step up and create a new enlightenment, or we can take the easy way out and lay the growing burden on the future. The bill will come due eventually. The longer we wait, the higher the cost.