Before last week's mid-term election, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues spoke about reducing oil industry subsidies and rescinding the tax cuts Congress bestowed on energy companies last year. That's all well and good, but now with the significant changes in the House and Senate, an opportunity has presented itself to do more. Given the election results, Congress has a public mandate to fashion a comprehensive, long-term policy that corrects our most glaring sins and deficiencies -- rigged prices, federal subservience to the industry, weak support for alternative fuels, and minimal support for conservation and focus on the existential risks to our environment, to name a few -- and to put us on track to achieving true energy independence. The time for lip service on this issue is past.
Beginning with this post, I will lay out a series of suggestions that we as citizens and consumers might do well to ponder and pursue. Taken together, these suggestions will, I would hope, be helpful in shaping dialogue in Washington and point us toward a rational energy future. In brief, here is what I would like to propose:
• Create a National Oil Trust to oversee our still-undeveloped and hugely significant energy resources.
• Clamp down on oil-industry royalty and depreciation practices that shortchange American taxpayer, fatten oil
company profits and deprive the nation of a clear and significant revenue stream that could be dedicated to programs reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
• High oil prices transfer enormous wealth to malign regimes, funds terrorism and insurgencies around the world placing our nation at great geo-political risk. Efforts must be made to bring down the price of oil starting with far greater transparency and oversight to energy trading markets to prevent price manipulation.
• Make transparent the oil industry's monetary contributions and lobbying initiatives that are designed to influence government energy policy.
• Restructure the Interior Department to eliminate deep seated oil-industry favoritism.
• Assure that the Energy Department end its acquiescence of OPEC and begins to take a more cogent and pro-active policy when they and other suppliers insist on playing monopoly games by colluding to cut supplies to drive up their prices and profits.
• Revoke the sovereign immunity of OPEC suppliers, thus opening them to antitrust charges.
• Mount a full-scale drive to achieve energy independence by backing the full gamut of alternative fuel sources including conservation initiatives, citizen initiated lifestyle changes and tax support for hybrid vehicles.
• Consider introducing consumer vouchers for gasoline, diesel and other oil related products as a way to reduce their usage by establishing a national cap on their consumption. With a voucher program in place we would have the added benefit of a system extant to quickly and fairly allocate energy resources were a major oil shock ever to occur.
I will sketch out the thinking behind each of these propositions in the days ahead. Do stay tuned.