BY: Thomas L. friedman
Putin’s Crimea adventure has created the possibility of moving America into a clean energy future.
There are a lot of people who seem intent on restarting the Cold War — in both Moscow and Washington. I am not one of them. But if we’re going to have a new Cold War, then I have one condition: I want a new moonshot.
The Space Race and the technologies it produced weren’t purely an offshoot of the US-Soviet missile competition, but they were certainly energised by that competition. Well, if we’re going to go at it again, this time I want an Earth Race. I want America to lead in developing an energy policy that will weaken the oil-and-gas-autocracy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and, as a byproduct, produce the technologies that will mitigate climate change, make America a global technology and moral leader and ensure that the next generation can thrive here on Earth.
And as opposed to the stimulus/ deficit debate, in the energy case, there really is now the raw material for a “Grand Bargain” between Democrats and Republicans — if President Obama wants to try to forge it. Such an energy grand strategy would be a first. It’s shocking how devoid of strategic intent US energy policy has been. Both political parties have repeatedly let our economy be hostage to Middle Eastern and Latin American oil despots and to energy booms and busts.
The key ingredients for a new US energy strategy, argues Hal Harvey, the CEO of Energy Innovation, is, first, “to optimise affordability, reliability and clean together, rather than one at the expense of the other”. Second, to “take advantage of new technology, we finally have the capacity to build an energy system we can be proud of, and by choosing this future, we will stimulate even more technologies that deliver energy that is indeed affordable, reliable and clean.” And, third, to “ensure that our natural gas bonanza actually ushers in a truly clean future.”
Here’s the deal Obama should offer oil-patch Republicans and Democrats. “You really want to open up the country to the exploration of natural gas? You really want to be free to export oil and gas to global markets — so long as it’s consistent with our national interests — and affect global markets in ways that could weaken Putinism? You really want the Keystone pipeline? Fine, I’ll give you all of it. And in return you’ll give me a bridge to a secure, clean-energy future for America.”
Harvey argues that such a deal should include the following: First, to ensure that natural gas is a boon rather than a curse, the oil continued…