Rudy's Energy Guru - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Rudy’s Energy Guru

Yesterday, I spoke with John Herrington, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Energy during his second term, to discuss his role as Rudy Giuliani's advisor on energy.

Giuliani has been rolling out his ideas for achieving energy independence, a subject on which he has written an op-ed today.

Herrington said while developing a specific energy plan is still an "ongoing process," there are some basic principles that Giuliani has decided on. "His strategy on this is the more choices we have, and the more sources of energy, the less we can be held hostage to one single source of energy."

Prior efforts to achieve energy independence have failed, Herrington said, because politicians attempted to focus on one type of energy that would remove our dependency on foreign oil, which is unrealistic. Instead, Giuliani would hope to get America to the point where there are 50 to 70 different types of energy so that we aren't dependent on a single source.

Some of the alternate energies he mentioned were electric cars, natural gas, ethanol, nuclear power, and clean coal. The idea would be to also make use of renewals and conservation.

I asked Herrington to respond to those conservatives who are cynical about any alternative energy plans, because they associate them with the Carter administration, but he said there is a difference. "Jimmy Crater's solution was the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a $66 billion boondoggle where the federal government decided to do things," he said.

I also questioned him on how Giuliani plans to reconcile his commitment to achieving energy independence with his vow to restore fiscal discipline, given that funding for alternative energy often translates into pork projects and corporate welfare.

Herrington replied that there were ways to ensure money isn't wasted, and cites clean coal legislation that passed through Congress in the 1980s as an example. A process was set up to ensure that companies seeking government grants were asked how much they would contribute of their own money, and those companies that were willing to contribute a higher percentage moved to the front of the line.  "You can test a private sector program by how much they are willing to commit of their corporate assets."

There is also a lot that can be done on the regulatory front, including making the permit process easier for nuclear power plants and oil refineries. He notes that despite the hysteria in the media about the dangers of nuclear power, not a single person has ever died in the United States in a nuclear reactor accident. At Chernobyl, which he visited, the Russians were using crude equipment unlike any being used in the U.S. He said that viewed relative to other energy sources, nuclear power is actually the safest, and we need to have perspective. "How many coal miners do we lose a year in America? And how many trucking accidents do we have moving stuff around the roads?" he asked rhetorically. "Energy and heavy duty industrial activity is necessarily a hazardous activity and you try to weigh one off against the other."

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