Tightening the Noose
The Nation Hasn't shown much energy in curbing its fuel fix
Clapp offers the 2001 comments of Vice President Cheney that conservation "may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis, all by itself, for a sound, comprehensive energy policy" as a way to understand the nation's present plight. The Bush administration, Clapp says, is still "approaching it as a personal virtue and not as a national policy. 'Be virtuous; help us through this crisis.' And once it's through, let's party on."
Harsh criticism, perhaps, and surely the nation did not improve its energy security markedly under prior administrations after the 1970s oil crises. "There's a lot of rhetoric on the Hill about reducing our dependence on unstable parts of the world," says Verrastro of CSIS. But in 2004, with strikes in Nigeria, sabotage in Iraq, and political unrest in Venezuela, the largest sustained oil-supply disruption was due to Hurricane Ivan. This year, no one doubts the biggest culprits will be Katrina and Rita. "The problem is right here in our own backyard," says Verrastro.
With Richard J. Newman