Maybe Katrina and now Rita will serve as a wake-up call that this nation must address the issue of energy supply. Far too long dependent on others - primarily the volatile Mideast - this country must begin to face some issues head-on.
Not one new oil refinery has been constructed in this country since 1978. Not one new nuclear facility has been constructed since 1973. And yet, as you well know, our need for energy sources - gasoline and heating oil - are increasing daily.
We seem to think that Alaska has an abundant oil field that would fuel this nation for decades. Yet all discussion on drilling there has ceased because of concerns for the environment. So we huddle many of our limited supply of oil refineries along the Gulf Coast and now we should recognize where that could put this nation.
Our supply of oil from the Mideast is always threatened with the violent nature of that region. And at the same time, international demand - especially from China - is exploding. If we are not concerned with $5 a gallon gasoline, we need to continue our current national energy policy. But that prospect may well pose substantial problems in our economy and our lifestyle.
Washington seems to address this problem by mandating better fuel efficiencies in our vehicles. But that's a tiny solution to a huge problem. And when politicians talk of mass transit to save on fuel consumption, Americans yawn. That just isn't going to solve the problem.
If experts know there are ample oil fields available and we allow the environmental lobby to stall those developments, we have ourselves to blame. We must strike a balance between the competing interests - protecting the environment and assuring available fuel for this nation.
If we allow the potential and hypothetical harm to an animal species to halt us from drilling for oil, future generations will curse our stupidity. Far too many Americans believe that somehow magically, cheap oil will appear and we will continue as normal. That is a dangerous dream. Our consumption, as well as the rest of the world's, will place unrealistic demands on our fuel supply. If you think high prices and long lines are a problem today, wait until tomorrow.
Here's what really confuses me. A relatively new survey - actually taken before the current crisis - said that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor new oil exploration in this country. Yet the tree huggers have effectively halted those plans for decades now. It's time to take this country away from the left-leaning environmentalists and bring self-sufficiency back into the national dialogue. It's sad it took a hurricane to teach us what we should have already known.