A Letter Home: Energy freedom a security must

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 16, 2002


Two hundred and twenty-six years ago, our Founding Fathers decided that the people of this country needed to have the freedom of control their own destiny – politically and economically. They believed in and fought for this independence, and declared it a principle upon which this country was to stand. It now appears that through our own short-sightedness, we are endangering that legacy.

Why is our country today content with being dependent on foreign nations for oil? This is a question that the U.S. Senate will explore through a month-long debate on a national energy bill, a debate that hopefully will yield real solutions to this nation’s security risks.

Our nation’s energy policy needs retooling and should reduce our dependence on foreign oil by requiring energy-consuming states to produce energy or cease their consumption. In order to secure cheap oil today, look at the nations our country is willing to deal with.

Even now, as President Bush vows to take on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States is importing nearly 600,000 barrels of oil a day from that country! And this is a country that we have been bombing an average of once a week. Can you imagine that we would buy steel from Germany while performing the D-Day invasion? Yet that is the kind of compromising power that our energey policy manifests.

Encouraging all states to get their consumption in line with that production will result in a national policy of independence and self-reliance. This circumstance really harkens back to a principle deeply ingrained in American culture, namely – he who works, eats. It’s a dictum of Capt. John Smith, and it was a principle that allowed the Plymouth Colony to survive.

We cannot allow endless energy consumption on the one hand while allowing a “not in my back yard” attitude toward energy production. We have to restore balance in the equation.

Louisiana makes it contributiion through oil and natural gas production. We also store much of the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve. However, every state should be free to determine how to make its contribution – solar energy from New Mexico, hydroelectric power from Washington, clean-coal plants from West Virginia. John Smith’s dictum did not say how you must work, just that you must produce for society in order to consume.

If we are consuming 26 percent of the world’s oil supply, but producing a tiny fraction, we clearly are eating without working.

Louisiana has supported energy production for decades, and if the nation is to achive independence from foreign oil supplies, other states must be willing to do the same.

MARY LANDRIEU represents Louisiana in the United States Senate. To contact her local office, call (504) 589-2427.