The Race Begin

Posted by David A. Peterson on 20. January 2009 in Issues |

Here we are Jan 20th just a few hours from the President-elects inauguration and his ascension into the highest office in the land. It’s estimated that 2 million people are standing on the national mall waiting for the hopeful event.


Hopes are high, and the problems facing our new President are even higher. I’m positive he will hit the ground running. Half of the country is worried about the direction the new President will take us but just about the entire country believes he will start his new journey at a full-paced run.


President Obama is in the race of his life. Modern life has made countries, counties, and cities all interdependent on one another. What happens in the Ukraine has an effect on Urbana. Events happen fast an often which makes a modern President have to race from one problem to the next. However at the end of the great race one issue typically tends to define a Presidency.


Here is a short review.


  • Washington – Nation Building
  • Lincoln – The Civil War.
  • Hoover – The Depression
  • Roosevelt – WWII
  • Eisenhower – The Interstate HighwaySystem
  • Johnson – Vietnam War
  • Nixon – Watergate
  • Reagan – Economic and Social Conservatism
  • Clinton – Monica Lewinsky
  • George W. Bush – The War on Terrorism
  • Barack Obama – ???

President Obama will have a lot of issues to dissect and decide however only one will define his term. My hope is that at the end of his 4 years he will be able to hang his hat on an airtight energy policy.


Our countries, counties, and cities are so interdependent on one another with the absolute link between them all being energy. Our non-renewable energy supplies that we currently consume are concentrated in countries with different values than ourselves. That is saying it nicely – really these energy producing countries actually hate us. Everyone from a middle school child to our incoming President realizes this dire situation that we are in concerning our current lack of a sustainable energy policy.


It doesn’t take much of a problem in the world for gas prices to rise to $4.00 gallon. Heating oil, diesel fuel, natural gas supplies, are all tied to world events. Not only world event affect our energy supplies; heck over the summer oil speculators ran up the bill without even actually touching a real barrel of oil.


Just this past week Russia cut off natural gas flowing through Ukraine. These two countries have a very long love/hate relationship. The outcome of the temporary issue was that Europe ultimately lost its supply of energy causing major natural gas disruptions. People literally were freezing to death. And this problem was just due to a monetary dispute. Imagine when they start shooting at each other!


So why should Urbana care about the problems of the Ukraine? The United States really does have enough non-renewable energy supplies to power our own country for a very, very long time.


The issue is that all of our non-renewable resources are tied up. “Drill baby, drill” is just a phrase it isn’t really happening. Coal and shale are available in abundance but are seen as destructive to the environment through the whole process. From digging those resources up to burning them in the power plants these forms of fuel have their detractors.


Natural gas is also available in abundance but we don’t have the distribution system or the ability to burn it in our country’s fleet of vehicles.


Then there is wind power, solar power, nuclear power, wave power, hydrogen power, fuel cells, hybrids, Ethanol, vegetable oil. There are countless other energy types being developed right at this moment.


Most of the above forms of energy are used to either power our vehicles or power the electrical grid. The push at this moment is the electrification of our country’s fleet. This will mean that we will need more electrical energy and a huge upgrade to our electrical grid that has already reached capacity in some parts of the country.


Take all of our non-renewal supplies; add in pollution, global warming, Green Peace, the Sierra Club, war, dictators, exploding populations, expanding commerce, cold weather, hot weather, weather in general, and stir it all together and poof you get our current energy policy. I wouldn’t call our current situation a policy more like a chicken with its head cut off.


What we really have when you stir it all together is a very fragile peace between all of the factors and factions. One rouge dictator, one small in change in China’s one child only policy, one thing we can’t foresee and $4/gallon gas will look cheap.


It only took one damaged pipeline due to Hurricane Ike to create gas lines in Atlanta in fall of 2008. In the 70’s it only took about 6 countries getting together to throw our entire way of life into turmoil yet here we are almost 40 years later with the same energy policy that we had in 1975.


President Obama is in the race of his life. Expectations for his Presidency are unbelievably high. I’m looking at 2 million people waiting on him to get sworn in. What will his legacy be? What will he try to tackle? There are so many problems that he could work on but what he should work on and try to tackle is a rock solid airtight energy policy before it is too late.


We are on borrowed time with our current policy. The race the President is running with our borrowed time has a finish line. Everyone from the smallest middle school child to our newest President knows it. Will he run to the finish line – will he do something about our borrowed time before it is too late?


  • Barack Obama – Sustainable Energy Policy

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