Trains, windmills = security
It’s hard to find a U.S. senator with less vision for the future than Mitch McConnell.
In his mania to slash federal spending, which we admit is an ominous problem, the Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Leader seems willing to risk not only our economic recovery, but also our national security.
When the president sent his $3.7 trillion budget for 2011 to Capitol Hill this week, McConnell greeted it with this statement:
“The president’s budget is the clearest sign yet he simply does not take our fiscal problems seriously. It is a patronizing plan that says to the American people that their concerns are not his concerns. It’s a plan that says fulfilling the president’s vision of a future of trains and windmills is more important than a balanced checkbook.”
Darn right those trains and windmills are more important. So are the one million electric cars the president wants on the road by 2015.
Not only do they represent new industries, and new jobs to replace the ones corporate America has outsourced overseas, but they represent something more important in an increasingly hostile world: national security.
Sixty percent of the oil used by the United States is imported, and that figure will only continue to rise. To put that in perspective, 30 years ago, this country imported 28 percent. As former President George W. Bush said — rightly — America is “addicted” to oil.
The problem with that addiction is the sources that supply our habit.
While the United States imports oil from around the world (Canada is our biggest exporter), too many of the top 15 chief exporting nations are politically unstable, anti-American or anti-Israel.
We’re talking about Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kuwait and Algeria, to name a few.
Meanwhile, most of the proven oil reserves in the world today are located in the Middle East — an estimated 727 billion barrels — which far outstrips anywhere else in the world. The known reserves in Central and South America are an estimated 99 billion barrels; Africa an estimated 87 billion barrels; the former Soviet Union, an estimated 78 billion barrels; western Europe and China, an estimated 18 billion barrels each; Mexico, an estimated 16 billion barrels and India an estimated 5 billion barrels.
Like it or not, we’re putting all our chips on the Middle East to supply our oil fix going forward. What might these regimes — or future regimes — demand in return? Reducing U.S. support for Israel? Who can read the tealeaves?
Some propose that America begin an aggressive offshore drilling program to reduce its oil dependency; we won’t use last year’s BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a scare tactic; let’s assume that was a one-time thing.
But we will note that oil companies are finding it necessary to go further off the U.S. coast to find oil, as far as 250 miles, and to drill more than one mile into the ocean floor. That will add considerably to the cost of extraction.
Believe it or not, we’re not anti-oil. It will have a place in any future U.S. energy policy. But its consequences for security are great. Israel already recognizes this, which explains its huge investment in high-speed rail and electric vehicle infrastructure. America must not mortgage its future to balance its budget. For the sake of our kids, we cannot fall behind.