The great energy policy debate is under way. Kudos to President Bush who recognized this critical need and established the National Energy Policy Development Group in just his second week in office. Their comprehensive plan published on May 17 detailing 105 policy recommendations has staked out a position and provided an agenda for stakeholders of all stripes to offer their opinions (with civility, of course).
Predictably, the usual critics came out swinging even before the report was issued. Perhaps emboldened by the changing make-up of the Senate, the former minority leader trashed the plan and has declared ``drilling in the ANWR dead, finished ... not the right time for an increase in nuclear power ... wrong that we're 5 percent of the world's population with 30 percent of the world's energy demand ... we ought to be able to conserve more ... alternative energy is something we've not seriously examined.'' Others have had similar or more strident comments. OK, let's lay out all the options and agendas and have at it.
Good move by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. to begin to step up its involvement in the debate. The American Plastics Council is already being heard as are a number of other associations and coalitions.
This is not the time for turf warfare or worrying about who's got the loudest voice. The multi-faceted plastics industry needs all the voices it can get at local and national levels. At risk is sustainable economic growth, and we've got to forge ahead with good sound, balanced and integrated energy policy. Not everybody will agree, but our arguments must be made and heard every day, every way, everywhere.
It wasn't too long ago that the plastics industry was embroiled in the ``solid waste crisis.'' While many from the commercial side advocated ``integrated waste management,'' others preached a hierarchy of ``reduce, reuse, recycle'' (often code words for ``eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging''). Their thinking was that if waste facilities (landfills, waste-to-energy incinerators) were in place, the generation of waste wouldn't be reduced, consumption wouldn't be stopped and the environment would continue to be despoiled. The policy they would prescribe was de facto to not manage waste.
Beware the same line of thinking on energy policy. They say a production-driven policy will focus on more energy consumption, not conservation, and that will guarantee environmental disaster.
But policies driven by a demand-reduction mentality without an appropriate supply side component will assuredly not solve short- or long-term energy problems and the economy will suffer.
As we make our voices heard, let's appreciate the power of enlightened self-interest. The afore-mentioned former minority leader does call for ``clean, renewable sources of energy - of which South Dakota is a leading source with abundant ethanol and wind-energy potential.'' Hmm.
Omni Tech International Ltd.