Business Politics

Energy Independence Will Require Bold Leadership

By Alfonse D’Amato

Newsday recently manipulated a photograph of former LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel to allow the reader to infer Kessel should have known better than to advocate creating a solar energy array on top of a sprawling Melville direct mail sorting facility, since it eventually closed down.

And that’s why our leaders require such personal courage. Breaking through the paralysis that blocks progress is a tough, demeaning business. Kessel couldn’t foresee the closing of that facility. Should he have therefore retreated from advocating solar leadership?

While the price of energy has shifted national wealth from one continent to another, we still snipe at every conceivable solution. Wind farms? Not in my line of sight. New gas and electrical transmission grids? Body blocked by lawsuits. Gutsy leadership? Drag him off to the stocks. It is as if we are demanding the right to become a waif, dependent on foreign oil whose price will only continue to skyrocket as emerging third-world economies drive up the cost while buying their share of crude.

T. Boone Pickens is willing to take the brickbats when this fabulously successful oil man says we are going to have to use new technology to drill off our own shores in areas now precluded by law. Environmental protection and access to our own energy reserves are not contradictions in terms. But energy self-reliance and the protection of our economic future requires us to do much more than drill.

We haven’t built an atomic plant in this country in almost 30 years. Ever since the Three Mile Island debacle we have put nuclear power off limits. Rather than fix and improve the technology, we shut down progress on an energy source which does not contribute to global warming, requires no offshore oil to fire up, and would provide unlimited power to electric cars and other fossil-fuel alternatives. Yet, if you dare advocate for nuclear energy, you will be so demonized that Newsday’s gratuitous shot at Kessel over solar power won’t even merit a Google mention.

Having been bludgeoned into submission by anti-alternative NIMBYs and their media allies, politicians now find they have run headlong into the massive aftershock of energy costs – destabilizing budget deficits. Energy has created economic distortion on every level. Strategically, the billions of dollars now needed just to fuel our military takes needed financial resources out of crucial research and development needed to meet the challenges we will surely face in this century. An understandable reduction in automobile driving is creating massive gaps in the nation’s highway trust fund that would pay for the infrastructure repairs we so desperately need. Gov. David Paterson is warning of draconian cuts in the state budget to make up for what some have charitably called “lean times ahead.” He is merely in the vanguard of what every municipality is about to face.

We are finally getting to the place where opponents to nuclear power won’t have the dollars in their wallets to pay for the gas to get to their next protest rally. It may take a cold, dark winter of unemployment before Americans begin to embrace those leaders who champion the goal of producing at least 50 percent of our electrical energy with clean nuclear power as well as other forms of renewable energy, such as geothermal power, whose contribution to the nation’s energy solution remains woefully underappreciated.

We are a nation that has long prided itself on creating solutions to intractable problems. We have also stood by our leaders in times of crisis. It is time we recognize that burning our money overseas to purchase energy we could replace with safe, affordable, domestic alternatives is a form of national suicide. We need to stop vilifying leaders who propose meaningful solutions if we expect to protect our republic at a time when energy will determine the fate of nations.

About Al D’Amato

Al D’Amato is a popular former U.S. Senator of New York State. Al D’Amato served on the senate from 1981-1999, during which, Al’Damato became chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Considered an expert in the legislative process, Al D’Amato founded Park Strategies after retiring from politics. Senator Al D’Amato keeps close relationships with Members of Congress in both the Republican and Democratic Pary is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel. Al D’Amato is also a noted commentator on the Fox News Channel, NY1, and Bloomberg Radio.


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