Teleconference With Dennis Hastert + Energy Independence

Today, I was fortunate to get in on a teleconference with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. On the other hand, it was a live meeting in a noisy room and I was on a speaker phone, so I had a lot of trouble hearing what he had to say. However, here’s the gist of what he said:

— Hastert claimed that the House has held the line on spending except for National Defense, which has gone up since we’re in war. Obviously, that’s just not true. If it were true, we wouldn’t have been running such a large deficit throughout the Bush administration.

— He also added that if the Democrats are in charge, they will cut and run in Iraq and raise taxes.

— Hastert said the House wants more earmark reform.

— He also emphasized that we need to protect our borders.

— Another thing he said that I disagree with is that we need to be energy independent. This is something that sounds good in theory — but in practice isn’t possible given the size of our economy, the technology that’s out there, and the amount of natural resources we have.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things we can — and should — do to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But, let’s take a quick look at reality:

— We have significant natural oil resources in this country, but the Democrats and environmentalists are blocking us from drilling them.

— We’re starting to build nuclear power plants again, but we haven’t completed a new plant since 1976.

— Ethanol is a sop to farmers, not a replacement for gasoline. Sugar would work much better, but the American sugar industry can only exist because of heavy protectionism and subsidies. So, they’re not capable of replacing ethanol.

— New technologies, like electric cars, fuel cells, wind power, solar, etc, aren’t even close to being able to compete on even terms with proven energy sources like coal, oil, and nuclear power.

So, could we do a lot more to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy? Sure, but unless there is some sort of significant technological breakthrough, we’re not going to be “energy independent.” Moreover, unless we can make some political breakthroughs, we’re not even going to be able to make real strides toward reducing our dependence on other nations for our energy needs.

PS: Afterwards, Brian Bilbray and John Shadegg spoke. Unfortunately, since there was no way for me to tell which one was which on the phone (if they identified themselves, I didn’t catch it because of the background noise) and since I didn’t want to mistakenly attribute comments to one of them that the other had made, I didn’t write up their comments.

Update #1: I rewrote the sentence that mentioned electric cars to better reflect the point I was trying to get across.

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