Friday, April 22, 2011

What Ever Happened To An Energy Plan?

James Earl "Jimmy" CarterImage via WikipediaBy Richard Brody

In the latter part of the 1970's, with gas lines at the stations, and rationing involved, then President James Earl Carter went before the American public and pleaded his case for a plan for America's energy independence. His plan was multi-fold, and perhaps if future administrations had viligantly pursued energy independence, we might not be experiencing the situation we currently are.

1. One part of Carter's plan involved using alternative energies, and weaning ourselves off our near total dependence on oil, particularly imported oil. There were discussions about "clean coal," nuclear, solar, wind, etc., most of which went nowhere for decades. Finally, because we once again have a crisis, we are again focusing on these concepts, but imagine if our national leaders actually planned, rather than bow to popular and political pressure.

2. Carter introduced the Strategic Energy Reserve, so that the United States could not be held hostage by another country. The nation still has this reserve, which unfortunately at times has become a sort of "political football," with politicians trying to employ token gestures by discussing releasing some of the reserve to lower pricing. That strategy, while good political "spin" goes counter to a sound energy strategy.

3. Mr. Carter recognized that an energy strategy required a commitment to energy conservation measures. During his Presidency, Carter imposed strict guidelines on heating and cooling public buildings, and introduced tax subsidies and credits to encourage people to replace their old inefficient windows in the homes were better, more energy efficient ones. In the last year, President Obama proposed and Congress passed tax credits to encourage solar systems, and other alternative and/or energy savings measures, but with caps limiting the total monies committed for that purpose. There are also capped provisions in place for tax credits for people buying Hybrid and/or electric cars.

4. During the Carter administration, the federal government imposed mileage limits and a timetable with progressively stricter limits, encouraging manufacturers to improve their overall fleet mileage standards. Carter's successors revised these standards, and if the originally standards had been kept in place, the United State's would be using considerably less gasoline today. While from time to time Congress has revised and reintroduced mileage standards, the rate of imposition has been delayed, and thus more gasoline used. Obviously, this is another factor in the overall puzzle. With gasoline approaching record levels, this detrimental impact on the overall economy might have been significantly reduced, if not avoided overall.

5. Many experts consider the concentration of oil in the Middle East as a major factor in the funding of economic and terrorist wars, as well as being a factor contributing to the overall political unrest and volatility in the region. Obviously, as presently structured, even the threat of an interruption in the oil supply has a major impact on the worldwide economy.

More than thirty years later, why have we not gone further in our important quest for at least some degree of energy independence and weaned ourselves away from our unhealthy dependence on foreign oil? Obviously, many factors are involved, but perhaps the two biggest ones are political expediency/ popularity, and political procrastination (waiting to act until its a crisis, and then being reactive instead of proactive).

Richard Brody has over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience. He has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc. Richard has negotiated, arranged and/ or organized hundreds of conferences and conventions. Richard is a Senior Consultant with RGB Consultation Services, an Ecobroker, a Licensed Buyers Agent (LBA) and Licensed Salesperson in NYS, in real estate.

Richard Brody has owned businesses, been a Chief Operating Officer, a Chief Executive Officer, and a Director of Development, as well as a consultant. Richard has a Consulting Website (; a blog (; and can be followed on Twitter.

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