President Obama is missing the hybrid revolution
Time for the President to listen to his Job’s Council
One can only laugh, or perhaps cry, at the irony of today’s political world. This morning I learned that the President was rejecting the Keystone Pipeline, an outcome most closely following this story expected because of the political prowess of those against the pipeline and their importance to the 2012 election. Then oddly enough, came the release of the President’s Job’s Council’s Road Map to Renewal that strongly suggests that pipelines like Keystone, and the jobs such natural resource orientated endeavors will bring, are essential to American economic viability.
Just like cars, the hybrid approach to US energy policy” just can’t get no respect”.
What I’ve loved about hybrid cars through the years is the multi-fueled approach, the combination of electricity and conventional fossil fuels. Any way you slice and dice it, America’s fossil fuel dependence will take decades to overcome. Thus, a visionary, but practical approach is required, such as the kaizen that resulted in Toyota’s hybrid cars. Ultimately, that means an intelligent utilization — a compromise if you will — of multiple energy sources is the wisest path forward, and the President’s Job’s Council clearly agrees.
Consequently, again, as the Job’s Council clearly indicates, new drilling and new pipelines are inevitable to restoring America’s economic strength. While the President can claim Republicans forced his hand on Keystone by not allowing enough time for an alternative pathway to be developed, those in opposition don’t want ANY pipeline, and most don’t want ANY new drilling.
Unfortunately, it’s clear to those that remain objective that we have no choice but to accept new drilling and new pipelines.
However, new drilling and pipelines won’t be enough. Efficiency, alternative fuels and electrification must be part of the mix, especially over time. That’s as paramount as is the need for new drilling.
Thus, as I’ve argued in the past, the Keystone pipeline affords the President immense power to compromise, to negotiate the most important US energy policy ever. Give Republicans the pipeline, but force Republicans to support a road to much better efficiencies, and not just fossil fuel infrastructure, but smart grid infrastructure as well. Similarly, set up a plan to increase R&D revenues for renewables via the job creation created by pipelines like Keystone.
And that might be just scratching the surface. For instance, instead of taxing oil companies when drilling on government land, incentivize them to concurrently build solar and wind farms. And when they build a new oil or natural gas pipeline, have them add some new grid to transport electricity from those solar and wind farms as well.
Take the hybrid approach.
Sure, approving Keystone would mean the loss of important Obama supporters, but I’d bet it would renew faith in the much larger population of independents that made Obama’s election possible.
And, let’s be honest. America is a divided country. Neither party is going to gain full control of the government in a way that a grand energy policy won’t require political compromise. It’s inevitable and denial of that fact is simply counterproductive to the welfare of the Nation. Therefore, the real missing ingredient is unprecedented leadership.
Sure, that’s a lot to ask of any President, especially one residing in such difficult and polarizing times, but the immense opportunity facing the President is his to seize. We don’t need a Democrat or Republican solution because we’ll need both Republican and Democrat ideas and votes. We need a hybrid solution. America needs the hybrid revolution.