A letter to the editor from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in today’s Washington Post, “A Gift to Energy Independence“:
The Nov. 13 editorial “Drilling in Utah” overreached with a headline that called President Bush‘s decision to authorize the sale of oil and gas leases on 360,000 acres in Utah “one last gift to the oil and gas industry.”
It would be more accurate to characterize the president’s decision as a step toward energy independence. By opening up Utah land for environmentally responsible oil and gas exploration, the Bush administration is sending a clear signal that we must act to increase the nation’s domestic oil supply.
To place Utah lands off-limits for such exploration would not only cost jobs and be bad for the economy, it would also show we are not serious about weaning the nation off its dangerous dependence on foreign oil. We cannot afford to keep spending $700 billion every year to buy oil from foreign governments, many of which are not our friends and whose principles are antithetical to those of freedom-loving people around the world.
Developing alternative energy sources, as the editorial correctly points out, is a vital part of solving the energy crisis. I’m a strong advocate for solar, wind, geothermal and other energy alternatives. But that will take time. The last time I checked, 97 percent of our planes, trains, ships and automobiles ran on oil.
Our nation needs to ramp up efforts to increase production of domestic oil and alternative energy sources. The Bush administration recognizes that, and I applaud the president for his foresight and leadership on the issue.
The Post’s editorial to which Senator Hatch is responding is here. The Post’s editorial page is generally balanced and thoughtful on major policy issues facing the country, but on energy and climate change, the editorials tend toward rigidly ideological, pushing the anti-market, anti-fossil fuels agenda of the environmental left. “One last gift to the oil and gas industry?” That’s not thinking, that’s sloganeering.
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