- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 17, 2002

In watching the Senate's slow, halting consideration of the Democrat-sponsored energy bill, one could almost believe that it had already put into practice the bill's provisions on conservation and renewables.
Indeed, despite the Senate's reasonable decision on CAFE standards, the bill under consideration is still too underpowered, too expensive, and contains too few provisions to increase America's security by increasing its energy diversity.
That really is the bottom line in this energy debate it isn't really about cars vs. people, or oil companies vs. environmentalists. A more perfect union in which Americans have continued prosperity and protection depends on affordable, reliable sources of energy.
U.S. energy consumption is expected to rise by about 1.4 percent each year for the next two decades, according to projections made in the Department of Energy's "Annual Energy Outlook 2002." The report noted that, since domestic consumption will rise faster than domestic production, increased energy imports will certainly be required.
Imports of oil are perhaps the greatest cause for concern, since so much of it comes from volatile, if not outright hostile, regimes in the Middle East. By 2020, half of America's oil imports are expected to come from OPEC nations, according to projections made by the Department of Energy.
That could be reduced by a proviso opening a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration. There is every indication that billions of barrels of oil could be procured from the area, at little cost to wildlife and at no cost to American life.
Not that the Senate bill contains such a sensible measure, heavily tilted as it is to conservation and renewables. It contains about $2.4 billion in taxpayer-funded credits towards energy efficiency and another $3.3 billion in tax credits for renewable sources of energy.
But cost is also the reason that renewables are projected to make up just the same small fraction of energy supply in 2020 that they make up today, no matter how much money Congress throws into such windmills. Renewables also come with huge environmental drawbacks.
The Senate can do far better than the current energy bill it is considering.

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