As Barack Obama assumes power in the White House amidst much uncertainty, it is still unclear how he will handle the country's energy affairs. It is certain that he will make changes, but the more important question is how he can fulfill all of his campaign promises while boosting the lagging economy and continuing to sustain a robust national defense.
During the presidential campaign, President Obama was largely against opening up new oil resources(ANWR, offshore) and never committed to expanding the grid with new nuclear power. Both of these were referenced by the opposition as evidence that President Obama is among those who wish to do too much, too fast with respect to reversing the effects of climate change. His solution after assuming power will probably look something like the plan proposed by The Center for American Progress. This plan, authored by John Podesta, touts a new "green recovery" that will work to reverse the effects of climate change while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and strengthening our economy. With the promise of 2 million new jobs within two years and a 13% decrease in spending on imports, the plan seems to be the right way to go.
The conservative Heritage Foundation counters with a scathing policy paper stating that the costs of such a program far outweigh the benefits. Quoting "fuzzy math" and technology that is promising but not yet efficient enough, the Foundation references the failed Leiberman-Warner bill of last year to reinforce its claim that there must be a balance between conservation and the progress of our nation.
Both sides of the argument make valid claims. We as stewards of our environment have a responsibility to take our role seriously and therefore finally get serious about making meaningful changes. The "green recovery" plan and other options currently being weighed by the new Obama administration are just that, serious and meaningful steps. On the other hand, any measure must not completely interfere with our need to create long-lasting jobs, provide an affordable way of life, and continue to ensure our nation's security. The conservative approach makes valid criticisms of a leftist plan that is maybe a little too aggressive and naive about it's claims of green job growth and the promise of green technology.
President Obama will serve his country well by proposing a plan that incorporates all types of energy(For some reason he continues to leave out natural gas) infrastructure while simultaneously deriving a smart plan to slowly phase out fuels that are harmful to the environment or increase our dependence on foreign sources. At the risk of being indecisive, I am proposing a compromise because I believe that both sides have it right and wrong. The fate of a good energy policy depends on a compromise between the two idealogical camps; Our new president must bridge the idealogical gap. I believe that President Obama is capable of seeing this and forcing the lawmakers to do what is right for the country while being a good steward of the environment.