Curing America’s Oil Addiction

During his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush admitted a major problem. “America is addicted to oil.” The catchy rhetoric is right on the money. Time for Bush to lead our country through the rest of the 12 steps.

Many know this recovery program, conceived by Alcoholics Anonymous to tackle alcohol and drug abuse. While the metaphor works fairly well in talking about America’s fossil fuel use, the President and I would both agree we aren’t asking America to cut itself off from oil entirely. Curing our addiction is about moving America toward a more diverse energy future in an economically sustainable way.

Right now, minus hydropower, clean energy sources account for just 2 percent of the nation’s supply. The more and the faster we move that number up, the better for everyone.

In the past five years, however, the Bush administration’s energy playbook has involved a fixation on drilling in the Arctic Refuge, an uncompromising resistance toward better fuel economy standards and a mere nod in the general direction of alternative energy, coupled with a  giveaway of billions in taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

Will the State of the Union be just another nod, or will 2006 be the year the president and Congress get serious about curing the addiction, rather than just feeding the habit?

Also, while it was great hearing the president address energy, a major issue was missing from the teleprompter–global warming. The choice was yet another in a long line of snubs toward the issue. In December, the Bush administration gave an embarrassing showing at an international conference of Kyoto Protocol signers in Montreal. Last week, yet another scientist–this time NASA’s top climate expert James E. Hansen–stood up to say the White House was censoring and suppressing research.

Ignoring global warming has become old hat for the Bush administration, leaving me wondering if there really is hope for curing the oil addiction. Mr. President, I’m ready for real leadership on this issue. I’m ready to help you move America toward becoming a country my children will be proud to inherit.