“Elder Statesmen” Weigh in on Energy

Michael Giberson

According to an Associated Press story, “A bipartisan group of 27 elder statesmen is sending an open letter to both presidential candidates and every member of Congress saying the country faces ‘a long-term energy crisis’ that threatens the security and prosperity of future generations if swift action isn’t taken.” More from the article:

The group includes Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and six other former secretaries of state or defense, former senators of both parties and a half dozen former senior White House advisers and other Cabinet officers for both Republican and Democratic former presidents.

“We must re-examine outdated and entrenched positions,” the group says in the letter to be sent Wednesday to the campaigns of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and to his GOP rival John McCain, as well as members of Congress and all 50 governors.

“…Foremost we must rise above a partisan differences and be united in our efforts,” they wrote.

A copy of the letter was provided Tuesday to The Associated Press.

A few points occur to me right off:

1. The letter purports to advise us of a “long-term energy crisis”, i.e., they believe they can foresee the energy economy over the next many years and know something about the steps that should be taken to better prepare us for the future that they can foresee. My question is where were these foresighted individuals five years ago? Did they see $140 plus oil? Did they forecast $4/gallon gasoline? If not, should we believe them now? (If yes, then maybe I should shut up.)

2. The letter reportedly was facilitated by the “Institute for 21th Century Energy” (a group affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), but a visit to the group’s webpage doesn’t turn up a copy of the letter or even a related press release. The most recent item on the “Newsroom” page was from July 1 – two weeks ago. For a group aiming for a 21st century energy policy, you’d think they’d want to show that they can master a 21st century web site.

Another quote from the letter, according to the Associated Press:

“…Foremost we must rise above a partisan differences and be united in our efforts,” they wrote.

This, at least, will be easy to accomplish. All that needs to be done is for all of you to quit your mindless devotion to outmoded ways of thinking, and agree with me.

Are we united now for 21st century energy policy? Good.

UPDATE: As a commenter notes, the letter is now available online at http://www.uschamber.com/xxi/open_letter.html. The elder statesmen say, among other things, “We strongly recommend that our next president and the 111th Congress commit to a strategic and comprehensive program based on the following clear and fundamental pillars.” And then they push for energy efficiency, reduced environmental impacts, climate science, clean energy technology, expanded domestic oil and gas production, nuclear energy, clean coal, renewable energy, a transformed transportation sector, modernized energy infrastructure, more training of energy professionals, reduced opportunities for frivolous litigation, and demonstrated global leadership on energy security and climate change.

So obviously they favor a grand expansion of the role of the federal government in energy industries. Is this really 21st century energy policy, or just a re-run of “That 70’s Show”?


7 thoughts on ““Elder Statesmen” Weigh in on Energy

  1. I’d be more inclined to listen to 27 elder petroleum engineers and geologists. What do these “elder statesmen” guys know about energy?

  2. These “elder statesmen” are merely a bunch of guys who love the sound of their own voices a little too much.

    The best and only thing we should be doing to deal with whatever “energy crisis” is either here or around the corner is to let the price system function with as few fetters as possible. Self-interested people can do wonderful things when the meddlers in government get out of their way.

  3. I’m with you Max. The people we (and I use the term loosely) keep electing aren’t exactly super aware of the actual energy issues facing the country. Not with so many other interests deep in the pockets of those who get people elected.

    But what do we do about educating those “we’ve” elected, or, what do we do to get other people elected who do understand these issues on a deeper level?

  4. I’m with you Max. The people we (and I use the term loosely) keep electing aren’t exactly super aware of the actual energy issues facing the country. Not with so many other interests deep in the pockets of those who get people elected.

    But what do we do about educating those “we’ve” elected, or, what do we do to get other people elected who do understand these issues on a deeper level?

  5. Agreement on the objectives of a 21st century energy policy would be a significant milestone. Agreement on the objectives of a 21st century climate policy would also be a significant milestone.

    Agreement on objectives for both a 21st century energy policy and a 21st century climate policy which are not mutually exclusive or conflicting would be a truly significant milestone.

    Reaching agreement on a economic prioritization of these objectives might, however, be too much to contemplate, no less expect.

    This might be expecially true, since those who would be responsible for developing these objectives appear, based on their performance to date, to meet Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Continuing to do the same things and expecting different results.”

  6. Agreement on the objectives of a 21st century energy policy would be a significant milestone. Agreement on the objectives of a 21st century climate policy would also be a significant milestone.

    Agreement on objectives for both a 21st century energy policy and a 21st century climate policy which are not mutually exclusive or conflicting would be a truly significant milestone.

    Reaching agreement on a economic prioritization of these objectives might, however, be too much to contemplate, no less expect.

    This might be expecially true, since those who would be responsible for developing these objectives appear, based on their performance to date, to meet Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Continuing to do the same things and expecting different results.”

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