Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Need for a National Energy Contingency Plan

If the crisis in Israel escalates into a major regional issue involving Iran and other countries in that region, this can have serious implications on the national security and economy of our nation.

Currently, we are dependent on over 66.5% of our oil from the mid-east, about 70% of our oil from foreign imports around the world. If terrorist organizations block the Strait of Hormuz by destroying or sinking tankers headed for this country, this can virtually shut off more than 30% of our oil supply for a very long time.

In the 70's we were able to withstand an oil embargo by these oil producing nations by the mere fact that at the time, China and India were not major oil consuming countries. Today, however, the picture is much different. The outcome can be much more catastrophic. Also, back in the 70’s, former President Nixon initiated bold steps to implement gasoline price caps when prices were rising during the embargo. Unfortunately for this country in the last 8 years, the out-going administration did nothing to control the price and spikes of gasoline prices. And, the citizens of the nation paid dearly for their inactions.

If oil were to be cut off today, we would only have a 6-8 week supply to keep the nation running. I understand that states, like California, have an emergency plan just in case. But this plan is really inadequate and only will replenish emergency service vehicles. And, in a really serious case, the state will provide for only farm vehicles -- not the general public.

This will again lead to gasoline rationing and long lines at the gas pump -- on a short-term basis. On a longer term -- if the emergency crisis were to continue -- this would disrupt the workforce in the country. Every industry would be forced to shut down since employees will no longer be able to get to work. Especially here in Los Angeles, people will not be able to drive their vehicles and, people are dependent on automobiles in a region where the availability and accessibility of mass transit is very poor.

If the crisis continues even more, this will lead to chaos within communities. Neighbors will turn against neighbors, people will not be able to go to the markets to buy their food, and food will not be available -- people will starve. Crime can and probably will rise uncontrollably.

The Administration and Congress must quickly develop and adopt a plan for this country to migrate its dependency from foreign oil in the next five years without delay, rhetoric, or debate. Convert heavy transportation vehicles from diesel to natural gas as a bridge to alternative energy. It is known that natural gas is the only energy source available right now that can power the big vehicles. Some states, municipalities, and educational school districts are already converting their large vehicles to natural gas. Commercial vehicles should do the same even if it requires that they be subsidized by government assistance.

By weaning ourselves off of foreign oil, we can save $15 billion by not sending this money to foreign nations. The money can better be used for our educational institutions and educate and instruct students in new and more energy efficient technology.

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