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Cafe Society to discuss U.S. energy policy

By Staff | Jun 10, 2016

The next session of the Cafe Society on June 14 will discuss the growing range of options that the nation has to address its energy requirements and in the process deal with related environmental issues. For the first time since the end of World War II, the U.S. no longer has to be dependent on Middle East oil or in a constant reactive mode to events that may destabilize the region. The U.S. has paid a high price for this addiction and it remains to be seen if it can break away.

These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. every Tuesday morning, usually in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center. However this next session on June 14 and the one that follows on June 21 will be held in Room 256 of the Scarborough Library.

Cafe facilitator Mike Austin shared, “A combination of factors including the development of economically exploitable and highly competitive oil and gas resources in North America, growing comfort with use of alternative renewable energy (wind, solar and thermal), mature technology and still significant experience with nuclear power and a well developed network of hydro-electric power generators, not to mention still valuable coal fields give us an unprecedented range of energy options. Despite the promises of the long awaited “National Energy Policy” from Vice President Cheney during the Bush Administration we remain without a coherent policy that reflects our national interests. We still seem to be unable to deal effectively with OPEC despite the overt effort in recent months on the part of the Saudis to undermine our economy in order to preserve their dominance and hang on to political power. What is different today from the 1973-74 oil crisis, thanks to major improvements in conservations measures, alternative modes of transportation, significant development of other fuel sources, and growing efficiencies that reduce energy demands (as well as internet and alternative workplace methods), is that we have the opportunity to sever our fetters and break away from dependence on this archaic 15th monarchy that represents all of the economic, political, and cultural tenets that we abhor. Having seen our economy, particularly the energy sector, severely impacted in recent months by deliberate Saudi intervention to depress the world oil markets, it is hard to understand why we haven’t reacted more strongly when we clearly have the option to do so.”

Austin went on to opine, “Part of the answer lies in the fact that a number of “rice bowls” would be endangered if we were to re-orient our energy sourcing away from the Middle East. Many U.S. and foreign industries have adjusted, even thrived feeding off of Saudi and other Arab nation requirements for stability and security i.e. keeping the lid on. Certainly the U.S. defense industry falls into that category. Even U.S. agribusinesses benefit as we continue farm subsidies that are no longer required, but the political food chain is just too hard to break. Of course there are numerous other financial entities that that would have to give up gains they have garnered through exploiting the existing hierarch of special relationships. It would truly be a silver lining in this otherwise dismal political cloud we have to endure if meaningful debate on our energy policies would result from this national election.”