Back when I was a kid- we had an Oil crisis in the 70's. Gas lines, stress, "high prices", and stations OUT of gas were a normal occurrence. IT spiked the desire for the "Economy" car and started a shift in how Americans made purchasing decisions. Why do I bring this up? Because that scenario is not very far off from where we are today- and that is decades later.
We are no further along in developing an overall Energy Policy that spans more than a Presidency and encompasses more than Oil as the big piece, and all others to fill in the gaps. We are still at the mercy of Middle Eastern Oil, Oil futures, supply constraints, geo-political situations. We still have not moved further down the road of decided where we want to be- let alone agree about where we are.
Consider this: Picture some major Corporation was in charge of our Energy Policy- Apple as an example. They would think products and substitutes through, develop supply chains and options, they would develop future products in R&D to insure growth down the road, they would unify on selling that product as a team, and transfer that goal to the next leader of the Corporation seamlessly. Of course, some Corporations make critical mistakes or are mismanaged- so they fail or struggle, but solidly managed companies just keep finding a way to do the best with what they have. Why do I say all this, when I know that the Govt is not a private entity? Because the thought process is the same- in every way.
We should have YEARS ago- come to terms with the simple fact that Oil can not last forever- debate the timing all you want, but the end game is already known. We should have worked to insure our energy future was secure and minimize the impact other nations would/could have on our economy by holding Oil hostage. We should have secured the Oil markets and prevented "speculators" from impacting this HUGE piece of our economy and the ripples it causes in other aspects of our discretionary spending. We should have simply put - PUT A PLAN IN PLACE TO SUCCEED TODAY.
What did we do? We wait to react, as opposed to deal with it on a pro-active way. THAT is the single worst form of management. IF you ever get caught behind the curve, you have already lost.
NOW- in the biggest economical struggle since the Great Depression, we are seeing Oil and Gas prices at levels that are the highest for this time of year- EVER. And last time I checked, Ever is a really long time. We are now hearing talk about using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce the price "at the pump". I wrote an article anticipating this before all the chatter happened, but the last time we did a release (in coordination with our international allies) was due to a supply constraint in Libya. NOW- we just have high prices. Although politically effective, you truly need to ask yourself- IS this what it was designed for? IS this why we have it? WILL this solve the moment or solve the issue?
That last one is the kicker- we won't be any better off on a National Energy Policy basis than we were yesterday. You have to consider the overall picture and deal with it, while you make the decision to release these reserves. What else gets changed? Who else steps up and starts a real dialogue about solving the issue? It is an election year, and no one will take this risk unfortunately. The need was there back when I was a kid in the 70's, and still lingers today.
Someone needs to step up and lead- the current President has a political agenda, not an energy savvy one. The candidates running against him don't have a true solution that is comprehensive(Keystone pipeline only helps our needs if kept in US, if it is sold abroad- then it doesn't push our prices down). And neither group is willing to engage in a healthy debate, bi-partisan agreement about where to take this country.
The solution? IT comes back to a simple truth- the only one who will FixTheNation is someone who doesn't want the job- but only takes it to fix it and get out. Most or All of our politicians are there to be self-serving, serve their benefactors, serve the lobbyists who have much more access than you or I ever will.
The Timing? IT will be at the last minute. Why? Because it always it. EVERY decision that politicians make comes in the 12th hr (see debt limit decision as a recent easy example).
I am not trying to sell gloom and doom- just painting a simple picture, there is a HUGE difference between a short-sighted release of SPR vs the long term pro-active decision of where to take our country.