America's insatiable demand for energy will require the development of vast new sources of natural gas, coal and oil and the construction of billions of dollars worth of pipelines, transmission lines and power plants, experts say.
That will require new tax breaks and other incentives to encourage businesses to invest in new infrastructure and more liberal policies about extracting natural resources from government lands, including national forests and wilderness areas.
And, at the bottom line, Congress needs to pass a controversial national energy bill proposed by the Bush administration.
That was the message delivered by a panel of government officials and energy industry leaders Thursday at the annual Summit of the West conference sponsored by the Western Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Glotfelty of the U.S. Department of Energy tried to assuage audience members' fears that the Bush administration may put the National Energy Bill on the back burner now that the president's popularity is on the rise.
He [C. Michael Smith, the Department of Energy's assistant secretary for fossil fuel energy] acknowledged there are environmental challenges to developing some of the reserves and the pipelines needed to bring the gas to market.
Passage of a national energy bill would remove some of those challenges by making it easier to access government land.
Conn Lass, chief of staff to Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clark, said the agency would cooperate by opening up more formerly protected land to drilling and mineral exploration.
"We are making efforts to help energy production on public lands in the West," he said. He noted that the agency recently approved the first drilling permits for Otero Mesa in New Mexico, which had been proposed for wilderness status.
Otero Mesa is one of the largest remaining tracts of Chihuahuan Desert grassland and home to many threatened or endangered species.
The height of folly is to destroy something permanent to gain something impermanent. The Bureau of Land Management apparently serves as a welfare office for the energy industry, with Congress at the counter cheerfully asking, "How may we help you? How much more of the nation's land would you like?"
The report above shows one the few examples of me agreeing with the right wing that the word "liberal" equals "treasonous evil incarnate": "...more liberal policies about extracting natural resources from government lands, including national forests and wilderness areas."
I heard a report on this story on NPR this morning but couldn't find a transcript.