Alaska editorial: Time for a comprehensive policy

Posted: Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

The timing of President Bush's recent remarks about energy shouldn't be lost on anyone in Alaska. The president was speaking about the need to advance the nation's use of renewable and alternative sources of energy just as work was reaching an apparently culminating point on the fiscal aspects of the long-proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope.

It was surely a coincidence, but the collision of the president's remarks and the events in Alaska points once more to the need for the nation to have a well-rounded energy policy, a policy that includes not only a renewed and vigorous search for domestic sources of oil and gas but also an expansion of nuclear power, greater use of hybrid fuel vehicles and ethanol, as well as enhancing prospects for solar and wind as mass sources of energy.

The president proposes all of the above with the aim of reducing the nation's reliance on foreign oil, which has accounted for an increasing portion of domestic consumption. He wants a national effort.

"What I'm talking about is a comprehensive strategy," the president said while visiting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. "In other words, we're not relying upon one aspect of renewable energy to help this country become less dependent. We're talking about a variety of fronts. And we're willing to work with both the public sector and private sector to make sure that we achieve breakthroughs."

As might be expected, however, the president can't catch a break. He gets eye-rolling credit in some circles for being a Texas oilman who has suddenly seen the light and become converted to the church of alternative energy. And, predictably, the complaints have already been laid by some of those same people that the president's ideas don't go far enough. Giving credit for moving in the right direction isn't something these firm Bush detractors can manage.

Yet credit is what's due, no matter the discontent in some quarters. The nation must have a comprehensive energy plan, one that makes ample use of traditional and alternative sources, and this week's events in Alaska and the president's remarks in Colorado indicate that's where the country is heading. The strides may not be huge in the eyes of some, and they may not come to fruition fast enough for their liking, but the direction is the right one nonetheless.

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