George Bush is concerned that falling gas prices will make us complacent about our energy future.
We really figured his “America is Addicted to Oil” line was crafted to serve a purely political need. We assumed it was designed to soften public frustration over A) an oil-man president getting us stuck in the Iraq quagmire, B) doing part A while appearing helpless before the oil market and C) all the while, aggravating the underlying tensions between the U.S. and the middle east.
By our reasoning, he should quietly welcome dropping gas prices, because they should take the edge off oil-based concerns. Instead, however, he’s actually worried.
Two things about this:
- We don’t know if this statement was in the text of his speech or in answer to a question. If it’s just an answer to a question, then it doesn’t mean anywhere near as much as it would if he actually brought it up on his own. Of course, he rarely answers press questions, so he probably brought it up on his own.
- (UPDATE: He was holding a press conference, as it turns out, but it was to talk up his renewable-energy plan.)
- Our president is a textbook case in how to worry about oil and still be utterly unconcerned with the environment. His only proposal is more ethanol-based fuels, which is great for business interests like ADM. That won’t help much, and the other elements of a real solution, like better efficiency, conservation, etc., are nowhere on his list of answers to the question. His first priority is still to take care of the boardrooms of America that have always taken care of him.
Ethanol really can’t be more than a minor part of the answer. Ethanol comes from corn, and we’ll never grow enough corn to really unhook from our need for oil. An acre of land produces less than 1,000 gallons of ethanol fuel every year. By comparison, we burn well in excess of a billion gallons of gas a day. Also, ethanol isn’t perfect — production plants are major polluters, just as gas refineries are.
Efficiency improvements are the only way to keep anything like our current lifestyle and make big progress in both energy independence and environmental stewardship.
In his statecraft, our president has applied a simplistic ethic, that of prioritizing personal loyalty over all else, to the most complex of all professions. His is a simple world: his friends’ needs are his policies. Their loyalty is all the persuasion he requires.
It is this, not his Republicanism (see our post below on Schwarzenegger, or see Mitt Romney), his business roots (see Richard Branson), or even his evangelical faith (see Pat Robertson), that will keep him from ever being able to even admit the importance of the energy-environment link.