Mileage Standards: Not the Way to Energy Independence

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, then-President George W. Bush enjoyed sky-high approval ratings. A short time later, his popularity began to slip when he rallied the country to invade first Afghanistan then Iraq. At the end of his two-term reign, Iraq was relatively stable with a functioning government and there was talk of planning to bring most of our troops home. And Bush's ratings were at historic lows.

I won't list all the circumstances, from biased reporting to poor policy decisions, which caused Bush's popularity to plummet. Most Pajamas Media visitors have their own complete list and all of us can rewrite history. But there is one opportunity that the Bush administration let slip through its fingers: an intelligent energy policy.

Consider this scenario. What if President Bush had explained that along with trying to get control of terrorism, the free flow of oil in the Middle East was important to world security. What's more, our country's dependence on imported oil was putting our own security at risk. To correct the problem, Bush could have asked the American people to do their part to conserve as much energy as possible. And if that included a modest tax on gasoline to encourage better habits, using all the revenue for transportation, I would be fine with that.

Today, we still don't have an energy policy that makes sense. T. Boone Pickens wants us to convert our vehicles to natural gas and fill up at his CNG stations while he builds wind farms to generate electricity. Midwest agribusiness would grow corn and other food stocks to make ethanol. People in coal country insist that their black energy source can be as green as Kermit, and residents of Nevada want nothing to do with storing nuclear waste.

Although we haven't had a coherent energy policy for decades, more than a few of us worry that the policies of the Obama administration will only please ardent environmentalists. If you're not in that camp, fasten your seatbelt. President Obama has set the tone by appointing Lisa Jackson to head EPA. Jackson is a proponent of allowing states to set their own carbon standards, an idea that would treat every automaker to compliance chaos. After sure confirmation by the Boxer-chaired Environment and Public Works Committee, Jackson will report to Ray LaHood, the newly appointed transportation secretary and retiring Republican congressman from Peoria who supports public transportation.