Remember when global warming was the President’s main concern? Seems like a distant whine these days. Our first inkling of Mr. Obama’s energy agenda came in the form of the very divisive cap-and-trade bill. That bill has long ago faded into the annals of history and has never even seen an attempt at a vote on the Senate floor. Then there was billions spent under Obama’s economic stimulus plan to forward the development of “green” technologies, such as advanced batteries, wind farms and other alternative forms of energy. He even went to a new battery factory that was helped by his stimulus plan. That factory is now closed.

There’s nothing wrong with developing alternative forms of energy. I applaud the President’s encouragement of refining the technology to put America at the forefront of any and all technological breakthroughs. This is an area where the bully-pulpit of the presidency can help guide the private sector in keeping the U.S. first in technology. However, it’s also important to not ignore the needs of today as we develop tomorrow. This is where Obama has failed miserably.

When the Deepwater Horizon exploded, sending millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the President reacted slowly and then reflexively; week upon week slipped by without the President even bothering to visit the gulf region. The President ordered a moratorium on all drilling in the gulf, even though his administration had recently approved the procedures and safety of the Deepwater Horizon. The administration focused on demonizing BP, costing gulf coast residents more than 100,000 jobs and further marrying us to Persian Gulf oil resources. Recent reports have determined that a manufacturing defect in the blow-out preventer caused the massive oil leak, and nothing BP could have done would have prevented it.

While Mr. Obama has been a tepid supporter of nuclear power, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the melt-down at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex, is causing uneasiness from every quarter. The last time a major nuclear incident occurred, in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, U.S. nuclear development slowed to a crawl. The prior twenty years, after Three Mile Island was even worse. While the world has exploited nuclear power, we’ve been at a standstill.

So now what? What does Mr. Obama have left of an energy plan? He’s attempting to sidestep the Congress by using regulations to transform his cap-and-trade misadventure into a “clean energy standard,” under which 80 percent of electricity in the United States would be generated from clean sources by 2035. A lofty and wholly impractical goal without nuclear energy being the main component; neither wind nor solar can possibly provide the gigawatts needed to supply even a fraction of our electricity requirements.

Today Mr. Obama delivered his latest energy whim in a speech at Georgetown University. The President’s response to the drastic rise in oil prices and the political fallout, he offered up another dubious goal — to reduce American oil imports by one-third over the next decade.

The President said that while there were no quick fixes to the nation’s oil addiction, the United States needed to take a series of immediate steps to cut oil usage. Remember the term “immediate,” because apparently Obama doesn’t understand the meaning of the word. The President called for producing more electric vehicles, converting trucks to run on natural gas, building new refineries to distill billions of gallons of biofuels and setting new fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. He also said that the United States would continue to rely on nuclear power for decades and would have to find a way to burn coal with fewer climate-altering emissions.

Let’s address these individually. First off, none of these actions, whether worthy or not, approach anything nearing immediate. He may get a firsthand look at immediacy in November 2012 if Americans are paying $5.00 or more per gallon of gas. Nonetheless, the President believes we need more electric vehicles. Hard to argue with that point, with the exception of where the power to charge these electric vehicles comes from. Nuclear? Coal? Oil? And the limitation of electric vehicles, in addition to their appetites, is battery technology; hardly immediate.

The President’s next item, converting trucks to run on natural gas. This is actually not a bad idea. Unfortunately for the President, it’s been going on for years. This is hardly a new concept, nor something that is going to make a big difference overnight. The big issue with Mr. Obama’s newfound affection for natural gas is how we get at it. Natural gas comes as a byproduct of drilling. The same kind of drilling we do to find petroleum. Mr. Obama has been as anti-drilling as one can get. We consume or export all the natural gas we’re able to produce every year. We don’t stockpile it and we need to exploit all of our resources. Unless the President has an election year conversion to drill-baby-drill, the increased demand is going to make heating houses or water with natural gas get mighty expensive.

The next component to Mr. Obama’s plan is to increase development of biofuels. Apparently the President hasn’t gotten the word on how big a failure the biofuels industry has been in any number of measures. Ethanol has proven to be remarkably inefficient. Ethanol has nowhere near the energy density of petroleum based fuels. It’s hard on engines and components. It causes the cost of virtually every food product to increase, because so much of our corn production is driven to ethanol development, meaning higher feed prices for feedstock, higher prices for corn-based sweeteners (which accounts for almost 75% of all baked and beverage products) and a litany of products you’d never expect to find corn in, such as glues and clothes starch.

Mr. Obama proclaimed the need for higher fuel mileage standards. While higher fuel prices themselves drive vehicle manufacturers to strive for better mileage vehicles, increasing fleet mileage averages does almost nothing to advance technology. Toyota’s development of hybrid technology did more to spur greater fuel mileage than every increase in the government fuel mileage standards since the 1970’s. Competition is the greatest encouragement for the development of new technologies. Vehicle makers want you to buy their vehicle and when mileage matters, they listen. Government regulations often divert companies from the normal course of technology development from what the public wants to what the government wants. Eventually we get to the same place, but market forces always lead us there faster.

Mr. Obama went on to say, “The only way for America’s energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil. We’re going to have to find ways to boost our efficiency so that we use less oil. We’ve got to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy that also produce less carbon pollution that is threatening our climate. And we have to do it quickly.”

There is still much debate about global warming, and whether the use of carbon based fuels have had any effect on the global climate. Regardless, unless Mr. Obama can figure out how to make his goals or regulations work in China and India, anything we do in our small corner of the world isn’t likely to make a significant difference.

What none of the Democrats, including Mr. Obama, want to admit is that even burning oil can be made environmentally friendly. We’re becoming well versed in carbon sequestration. Nowhere in any proposal by the Congress or the White House, has anyone set up the goal of developing the technology to capture carbon emissions from gasoline burning vehicles. The liberals are so anti-oil, that anything other than renewable sources is a four-lettered word.

We absolutely must reduce our importation of foreign oil. That’s indisputable. But it’s because America cannot be put in a position of having our energy resources controlled by another nation and certainly not ones that have an interest in denying the U.S. access to resources necessary to support our economy. The President would get huge kudos from all conservatives if he took an all-of-the-above approach to energy. Develop green technologies. Encourage all energy-related technologies. Develop America’s natural resources. Pursue nuclear power as only America can. But for the immediate future, only the last two can deliver in the near future and all the progressive thinking in the world won’t change that. Once the world’s leader in refining capacity, we’re now a distant forth and soon to be fifth. We haven’t grown our refining base in more than 20 years. Drill-baby-drill. Refine-baby-refine. Look to the future, but don’t neglect today.

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