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US: Energy supplies

Resources for the Future sponsored a Washington meeting at which WAISer former CIA director James Woolsey discussed US energy problems. The impression is that the US is governed by a Texas group closely allied with oil interests. Democrats respond to this with anti-oil arguments, making their latest cause the danger to pristine (a favorite word) Alaska by oil development. Mugwumps recognize the need to develop alternate forms of energy, but insist that Alaskan oil should be developed not only to satisfy US needs but also to respect the wishes of Alaskans; national needs and states' rights both urge development

Although he is from oil-rich Oklahoma, James Woolsey, a Democrat, is more inclined to favor the search for alternative sources of energy. He spoke of various possibilities, notably biomass. There was no mention of Brazil, where this has been tried on a large scale. He wants to make this search bipÓrtisan, and he has co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs with Republican Richard Lugar. He wants to bring in other countries, notably Japan, which are heavily dependent on Mid Eastern oil. He favors cooperation with Russia, which is an important oil producer and has considerable leverage in the Middle East. To my surprise, the environmentalists in the audience showed great moderation in their questions and comments. What was not clear to me was how far the discussants took into account the possibility of an oil crisis if the US invades Iraq and general turmoil in the Middle East ensues.

Ronald Hilton - 9/12/02