By Major General Jerry Curry, USA (Ret.)
By divine intention America is the land of the free and home of the brave; it is more than able to successfully balance energy production and environmental protection. God has blessed this great nation – within our geographical borders – with all the fuel reserves we need for America to be fully energy independent.
Daily, Oklahoma City demonstrates that the American people would gladly rally behind efforts to fully develop and make available for use, all of the nation’s energy resources. Oklahomans allow oil rigs to pump oil right in the middle of their delightful city. And the local newspapers, magazines and TV news shows aren’t full of stories about how offended Oklahoma’s citizens and wildlife are by the presence of these oil rigs.
Why then do political, academic, environmental and news media elites in and around Washington, DC — who have never and will never see ANWR, Alaska — whine so much about caribou and other wildlife being offended by oil rigs pumping in the far north? It is because the complaints are tethered neither to reason nor to reality. Why is it standard policy to neglect and ignore our own domestic energy resources while buying oil from foreign countries who despise us? Why don’t we loose the shackles that bind our energy production — from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic coast?
Current energy policies are taking the nation in the wrong direction, toward energy dependence and economic stagnation, not energy independence. The mating habits of the tiny snail darter fish or other members of the endangered species club cannot be the yardstick by which we determine how to treat the nation’s environment, or how to guide the future of American civilization. Speaking of things environmental, no one would deliberately destroy an endangered species’ habitat, at least no one rational.
But if in the scheme of things it is impossible to protect the habitat of an endangered species without doing harm to humans or degrading their quality of life, then it is more important to value and protect human life. Perhaps the nation needs a law to that effect, because if a leader believes that human life isn’t more important than the life of a moth, he should never be allowed to serve in a high position of government or in the Congress, let alone be President.
We are the most technologically advanced, innovative, inventive and resourceful nation in the world. But we refuse to avail ourselves of the resources God has so generously provided us. One of our primary goals for the next quarter century should be to make the United States of America fully energy independent. America’s supplies of natural gas, clean coal and untapped sources of oil, both on-and-off-shore, are more than sufficient to meet the nation’s energy needs, especially in the transportation area.
At the same time we have the availability of nuclear and green energy. Green energy is developing slowly and its supply will probably always be on the meager side. Nuclear power generation plants can provide a significant boost to our energy supplies but are quite expensive to build and operate. Also, nuclear power got an undeserved bad rap during the Three Mile Island incident.
The positive side of that story was buried or misconstrued. Contrary to what was reported, Three Mile Island proved beyond a doubt that nuclear energy plants are safe and, in a disaster, do exactly what they are designed to do. When the emergency occurred, the reactor shut itself down with no damage to the local community and no loss of human life. That is as safe as it gets.
Currently the Administration has married the nation’s environmental concerns to green energy development and production. It believes that America’s primary goal should be to institute a crash program to maximize the development and use of green sources of energy and to sharply reduce the production and use of fossil fuel energy. This is assuming that windmills are benign.
From the founding of the nation our citizens recognized that the environment was created to serve mankind; mankind was not created to serve the environment. All environmental policies stem from this foundational understanding. Until this fundamental question is satisfactorily resolved — of how human life compares in value to the life of birds, animals and fish — development of a satisfactory national environmental and energy policy will never be possible.
The average citizen in the street loves this nation and values human life above the life of a centipede, though some of the nation’s environmental elites would probably prefer that the life of a roach be preserved over that of a human. After all, supposedly it helps keep the world from becoming over populated.
Since before men and women walked the earth there have been weather cycles of warming and cooling. If every man and manmade thing were to disappear from the earth today, these cycles would continue. Nothing man does or does not do will prevent them from occurring.
We should all be good and diligent stewards of the earth and our environment. Of course environmental protection comes at a financial cost, but everything worthwhile usually does. So let us spread out on the table top the job loss and life-style trade-offs caused by our choice of environmental and energy policies, and initiate a national debate.
The American people are not stupid; if they are given honest, unvarnished facts they will come to the right conclusions. The requirement is to get the views of the American people on the record before unwise, irrevocable environmental, energy decisions are made and destructive policies set. The people can be trusted to choose which programs are best. It is the job of the Administration and the members of the U.S. House and Senate to encapsulate those views and see that they are heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill.
The U.S. must balance energy production with environmental wellbeing while protecting existing wilderness areas and opening up new areas for drilling and energy production. All around the nation there are excellent examples of energy exploration and production sharing and protecting the environment — like Oklahoma City — without endangering the nation’s health or decreasing its energy supplies, or our citizens’ enjoyment of the many environmental blessings with which we have been so generously favored.