Ken Blackwell

Nancy Pelosi wants to the save the planet. That was the House speaker's answer to why she is not allowing a vote on expanding domestic oil drilling. Unfortunately, Americans' need for an ambitious long-term plan for energy independence is placing a damper on the speaker's planet-saving pursuits.

The energy issue is taking center stage for the public, and the call for a decade-long national mobilization. If this issue is forced to the next level, Senator McCain might win the White House and Republicans might avoid another election year rout.

First, Mr. McCain must outline an ambitious - Kennedy to the moon ambitious - energy plan aimed at transforming America from an energy importer to an energy exporter.

He should start with the obvious. Only conventional sources can address America's short-term energy needs. The nation has the infrastructure to use coal, oil, and natural gas, and all it needs is additional supply.

Critics of expanded domestic exploration say it will not address the nation's immediate needs because the benefits won't be seen for 10 years. Not true. There are dormant drilling facilities already in place that could yield oil in less than one year and some locations would yield oil in three. And both the outer continental shelf and shale rock could begin yielding oil in five to seven years.

America should not be importing 70% of its oil, much of it from countries that don't have our interests at heart. With at least 900 billion barrels of recoverable oils reserves - several times the known oil reserves on the Arabian Peninsula - it does not have to.

Coal is another energy source available right now. I married into a family of coal miners. The nation has the world's largest coal deposits, and can recover it quickly. Recent advances in clean coal technology make it increasingly attractive and can radically cut pollution, and further advances hold promise for making coal power completely clean.

Mr. McCain and Republicans need a future-oriented focus. The goal should be to change our economy and our energy sector.

The cost of solar power production is dropping, and solar power is on the rise. Many have seen T. Boone Pickens's Fox News Channel commercials promoting windmills. There are other sources such as the ocean tides and geothermal power. But right now all of these renewable, clean sources only account for perhaps 4% of our nation's energy. Mr. McCain needs to push for a tenfold increase in the amount of power we get from these clean sources over perhaps the next decade.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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