Viewpoint: U.S. Energy Independence

We asked readers to weigh in on the debate over whether it is possible—here is what you had to say.

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In our previous "Two Takes..." the Center for American Progress's Joseph Romm and energy consultant J. Robinson West debated energy independence. Romm argued it's achievable; West that it is not. A sample of your thoughts:


News flash! People who work in the petroleum industry, myself included, think that private ground transportation powered by oil is a huge waste. We need to conserve oil for things for which there is no viable substitute (petrochemicals, plastics, jet fuel—who wants to take a solar powered "red eye"?).

Steve Slawson


Slawson Companies
Oklahoma City


I can't begin to describe how frustrated I am that energy discussions do not begin with the word "conservation." Jimmy Carter is still ridiculed for his sweater, when that was the very foundation of the approach we should be taking. We are a greedy, selfish nation. We ask how we can lower prices, not how we can use less of Earth's resources. We find it convenient to be told that the answer to terrorism and economic distress is to buy, buy, buy. Shame on us. There is one Earth. It is true that life is not fair and never will be, but we are luckier than most, and that should guide us to be grateful and conserve as a first principle, not to continuously demand our nonexistent right to consume rapaciously just because we can.

Ann C. Somers


Brookline, N.H.


I have been appalled at the shallowness of the media's coverage of domestic energy production. This is a big issue—much bigger than just fuel prices. As Mr. Romm states, it is a huge wealth transfer issue that has the potential to cripple our economy. It is also an American jobs issue. Just think of the thousands of new construction jobs if we were to start drilling and building new refineries and power plants, not to mention the downstream jobs to support the construction, and the jobs to operate the new facilities when completed. And it is also a national security issue. It is no secret that much of the world's energy supply comes from volatile areas of the world not necessarily friendly to the United States.

Kenneth M. Jones


Former vice president
Allegheny Energy
Waynesboro, Pa.


Rather than "energy independence," a better descriptive for this national policy goal might be "energy interdependence." A robust and diversified American energy portfolio would strengthen our hand in world energy markets and give us the leverage to use this influence for cleaner technology while meeting the energy demands of emerging economies. The centerpiece of this portfolio should be opening our vast oil and gas resources currently off limits with continuing development of nuclear, clean coal, wind, solar, biofuels, hydro, geothermal, and conservation.

Larry Bohner


Farmington Hills, Mich.


How about reintroducing gasoline rationing? Undoubtedly there are many "cons," but the amount of gasoline that could be saved is almost unbelievable. The eventual result could be a price reduction, and in the meantime the money saved by families would alleviate much of the struggle that many are enduring.

Helmuth O. Froeschle


Lakewood, Colo.


I have read with interest the article by Joseph Romm, in which the use of electrically powered automobiles is held out as a large part of a possible energy "solution." Where is the necessary electric power going to come from? If, in fact, we are to replace a significant portion of the power that drives today's automobiles with electricity, we will clearly need massive amounts of new electric-generating capacity. I suggest that Mr. Romm (and others) produce calculations of the actual amounts of energy required, rather than idle "what if" scenarios.

John G. Stone


Boerne, Texas


We have been aware of this dependence on oil for decades. What is most troubling about the energy crisis is that our leaders are still unwilling to do anything for fear of offending one group or another of constituents. It's not "What is good for the country?" but "What's good for me and my party?" One word sadly lacking in all this debate is nuclear. France gets 80 percent of its energy from nuclear and is able to handle the waste. Why can't we? But with too many people in this country, rejecting nuclear is a religion. They would prefer to freeze in the nonradioactive dark.