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Choosing America's future

By Henry Lamb
web posted October 6, 2003

America's economic and military strength depends upon the availability of an abundant supply of affordable energy. In recent years, there has been a coordinated effort to reduce the availability and increase the price of energy, in America, and around the world. The reason advanced by the anti-energy advocates, is "to protect the environment." Surprisingly, these people have been able to convince masses of people that their vision of a "protected environment" is more important than the prosperity and security that America offers.

Anti-energy advocates claim that we can have a protected environment, and maintain our economic and military strength by eliminating the use of fossil fuel and nuclear energy, and shifting to solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel technology. The marketplace knows better, so these anti-energy advocates lobby tirelessly to persuade Congress to force the reduction, and speedy elimination, of the use of fossil and nuclear energy sources. Scary scenarios and junk science are the preferred tools of the anti-energy crowd.

Alternative energy sources should be used, where feasible, but never forced by government into the marketplace. The marketplace free of governmental interference is the best provider of abundant, affordable energy. There is at least a 250-year supply of coal, and, by some estimates, a 100-year supply of oil and gas, readily available in the United States. Were government to get out of the way, nuclear energy could further extend the supply of available, affordable energy.

But no. Government, driven by an extremely well-funded, well-coordinated, environmental lobbying machine, continues to ignore the obvious benefits of abundant, affordable energy, and embraces instead, policies that often defy logic.

For example, which is more important to America: enough domestic energy to supply New York City for, perhaps, a decade, or keeping nearly two million acres of Wyoming free from human impact? The Clinton-Gore administration chose the Wyoming wilderness when it closed the coal fields by designating the Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Which is more important to America: enough domestic energy to avoid sending nearly $500 billion to foreign countries, and creating more than two million jobs, or keeping Alaska's North slope free from human impact?

Anti-energy advocates have latched onto the "open space, free from human impact," vision to prevent all kinds of resource development. They have convinced a majority in the Senate, and many people elsewhere, that wilderness is a higher value for America, than an abundant supply of affordable energy, and all other uses of our natural resources.

The Wildlands Project is moving more rapidly than anyone expected, thanks to ten years of support by the federal government. A series of maps indicate the progress, and the ambition, of the people who fully intend to return at least half of the United States to core wilderness, free from human impact.

Again, which is more important to America: keeping humans off half the land, to ensure that animals have room to roam, or using the energy and other natural resources on this land, to ensure that America retains its economic and military strength?

Far too much of America's natural resource treasure has already been locked up by wilderness and monument designations, and has been taken away from the American people forever. This is a victory for those who value the serenity of a pristine desert more than a prosperous economy.

The people who are out of work, those whose jobs have departed to China, India, Mexico where there is no effective green lobbying machine preventing resource use might want to reconsider the value they place on wilderness, and so-called environmental protection.

It is true that in the past, resource providers have not always been sensitive to environmental damage. Those days are long gone, thanks, in part, to the early days of the environmental movement. With modern technology, and environmental sensitivity, domestic oil, coal, and nuclear energy are readily available, with little or no damage to the environment.

There is no justification for depriving the American people of the benefits of abundant, affordable energy - to satisfy the misguided values system of those who believe that animals are more important than humans. America cannot maintain its economic and military strength by continuing to put its natural resources off-limits to human use. It's a simple choice that each person will make, when they decide which candidates to send to Washington.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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