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Win the Future or Cement Ourselves in the Past?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Suddenly, the Libyan turmoil and its subsequent Obamian abdication of leadership have led -- again -- to heightened fears about America's energy future. The national average price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump has risen 33 cents to $3.51 in just two weeks.

So here's a question: Where would our fears be, and that per-gallon price of gasoline, if the country in turmoil were not Libya, which produces just 2 percent of global oil production, but Saudi Arabia? An answer is: They would be in a comfort zone -- far below today's levels -- if we were doing about domestic energy production what we should have been doing all along. Sixty-three percent of the oil we use would not be imported from other countries.

And what should we doing?

New White House chief of staff Bill Daley told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that "all matters (relating to energy) have to be on the table." Very well:

With greens currently driving energy policy, meaning that as a consequence the U.S. currently has no effective energy strategy, rebalance green concerns with the nation's energy needs:

--Lift the Obama administration's de facto moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal District Judge Martin Feldman has termed the administration's dalliance issuing permits following last year's Deepwater Horizon spill "increasingly inexcusable."

--Lift as well the seven-year federal ban on Atlantic and Pacific off-shore drilling. Cut the red tape. Speed the permitting process. Don't leave these off-shore areas to drilling by Cuba, Mexico, and China.

--Authorize extension of the TransCoastal Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf coast, thereby daily providing an additional half-million barrels of crude to Gulf coast refineries.

--Approve drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

(The latest polling shows roughly 2-1 popular support for drilling in territorial waters, and 54-40 percent support for drilling in ANWR.)

With America the OPEC of coal and natural gas, find regulatory ways to revive coal mining and to expand -- in truth, even to allow -- its industrial use:

--Remove regulatory and bureaucratic obstacles to tapping oil and gas in shale deposits that underlay vast reaches of the country from Texas to Wyoming to the Dakotas to upstate New York.

--Push (yes, push harder) private-sector research into automobile engines that operate on, for instance, hydrogen.

--Promote the construction of new refining capacity.

--Encourage -- bigtime -- new nuclear output, as countries across the globe are doing. And stop letting environmental wackos set energy policy with wind, solar, and tidal snake-oil schemes technologically unable to provide energy generation on levels even approaching energy demand.

--Oh, and fire Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who has spoken sensitively about the importance of $8-a-gallon gasoline at the pump.

NANSEN Saleri, president of Quantum Reservoir Impact in Houston, notes the globe possesses ample sources of oil and natural gas: "At current rates of global consumption, there are sufficient oil and gas supplies to last well into the next century. What's missing is a coherent U.S. energy policy." With such a policy, he says, the U.S. could switch from an energy importer to an energy exporter in 15 years.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell adds: "As we watch fuel prices rise, inflation take hold, and government debt reach record levels, Alaskans and those in other oil-producing states are frustrated. We wonder why the Obama administration is openly hostile to a sector of our economy that has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, kept the country on an even keel even during the recession, and produces a global commodity we depend on every day."

President Obama loves the phrase "win the future"; he deployed it a dozen times in his most recent State of the Union address alone. Yet how, as a nation, can we win the future if here or there the removal of an Arab/Islamist goon -- whose removal we morally should favor -- pings our anxiety meter, sending the price of gasoline into the stratosphere?

If we have the coal, gas, and petroleum resources to make ourselves energy independent, it makes no sense for us not to use those resources in responsible ways. In fact Republicans, independents, and Democrats favor most "on the table" energy proposals (Democrats oppose opening ANWR to drilling).

Once energy independent, instead of being dependent on tinpot dictators to power our cars and heat our houses, we wouldn't have to be passive about, for instance, turmoil in Libya -- or about Hugo Chavez violating international sanctions on Iran by sending it reformate" (used to upgrade gasoline), as he is doing.

Winning the future means gaining our energy independence through unleashed American technology -- and getting the federales out of the way. Anything less means cementing ourselves in the past.

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