I was reading the paper yesterday and saw a story that wondered whether falling energy prices meant the end of momentum in the effort to design more fuel efficient vehicles. Here we go again . . .
I’ve written before (July 13, July 17 and Aug. 12) about how there was so much momentum to attack our energy problems in the 70′s, but when the economy got better and prices started falling, the momentum went away. We had a brief price spike around 1991, but that came and went too fast to really get the nation focused on the problem.
When the price of oil reached $147 a barrel, it seemed we had finally gotten to the point of no return. Some analysts were predicting $200 or higher. You felt like T. Boone Pickens was haunting you; there were so many commercials. Energy policy is all anyone wanted to talk about.
Obviously, the more recent financial crisis has attracted much well deserved attention. And the presidential candidates have bought up all the TV time; pushing Mr. Pickens aside a little.
But what really worries me is that with prices under $70 as of now, the momentum to really do something about our energy future has gone. Both presidential candidates still talk about it, which is good; though it is often more about creating green jobs, combined with a sound bite about borrowing money from China and sending it to Saudi Arabia.
There might be millions of green jobs out there to be created; and certainly it seems as if we should borrow less and send less of that money overseas. Those are great ideas and even better sound bites. But will they survive the end of the campaign and, even more important, will they survive attention that is diverted to other matters at a time when the price of oil is down more than 50 percent since summer.
The solution to our real problem isn’t lower energy prices, though they are important right now. The solution is a real commitment; finally, to a different energy future and national will and leadership to make it happen. If all we want are lower pump prices now, and are satisfied with that, then that’s all we’ll get.