Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jimmy Carter and Energy Policy

It is kind of creepy when you look at the current state of affairs and look back at Jimmy Carter's presidency and see things very similar. We are currently experiencing tensions with Iran and seeing skyrocketing energy prices hurt the economy similar to 1977-81. He tried to enact certain changes to energy policy that would probably help us out a lot today. I saw a post on Treehugger about it and read the article at AJC. Fundamentally, he had the right ideas on many facets of energy policy by combining conservation, taxation and supply diversification. The best points made in the article are summarized in this section:

It turns out that Carter was right after all.

He was right in seeking to raise the fleet auto mileage standard to 48 miles per gallon by 1995. (Even U.S. automakers admitted at the time that they could easily achieve 30 mpg by 1985.)

Carter was right in exhorting Americans to turn down their thermostats, even if he did look nerdy in a cardigan while urging us to do so.

In his July 1979 speech, he was right when he said, "I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 —- never." That worthy goal quickly went by the board.

He was right to encourage fuel conservation by proposing a 50-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline and a fee on imported oil —- in effect, a floor for fuel prices.

Invoking the pioneering spirit of the 1960s moon mission, he was right to recommend a tax on windfall oil profits to finance a crash program to develop affordable synthetic fuels.

Carter was correct, too, in setting a goal of obtaining 20 percent of our energy from solar power by the year 2000.

Had this policy been followed who knows where we would be economically, environmentally and the state of international relations and conflicts. However, the most important lesson to be learned is that we cannot afford to pass on another opportunity to make change.


BBC said...

So tell us something, what is your carbon footprint?

FeButterfly said...

Oddly enough, I have never calculated it. I should have done it a few years ago to get a baseline then I can see my improvements.