Bomb and Drill - The Bush Administration's Energy Policy for the 21st Century

by Paul Donahue
July 2004

When the administration’s National Security Advisor actually had an oil tanker named after her (the Condoleezza Rice), you know you are in trouble and, without a doubt, it is in the arena of energy policy where the Bush Administration has truly outdone itself. As devastating as the Bush Administration’s policies have been regarding other environmental issues, it is in the realm of energy where their policies have the potential to cause the most serious and long-term damage to our environment - indeed, to our whole planet. Their policy is clear - drill everywhere, and bomb or imprison anyone who gets in the way.

While we at the Forest Ecology Network have primarily concerned ourselves over the years with forest issues, the issues of forests, clean air, global warming, national energy policy, international policy and even war, are all intimately linked. A national energy policy which relies heavily on fossil fuels and ignores renewable energy and conservation measures means increased global warming and air pollution, including acid rain. And an increase in global warming and air pollution will certainly have a severe impact on our forests.

If renewable energy and conservation measures are ignored in our nation’s energy plan, it also means we will have greater dependence on foreign oil. If we depend more on foreign oil, it will in turn mean more US aggression abroad to secure those oil supplies. More US aggression abroad means increased spending on the military. More of our tax dollars going to the already obscenely bloated Pentagon budget means fewer tax dollars available for vital environmental programs and agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency. Even as I write this, President Bush is proposing an environmental budget for 2005 which slashes about $600 million or 7.2 percent from the EPA’s budget. At the same time, spending on the military continues to rise, with much of our military currently engaged in securing oil supplies around the world.

At a time when more enlightened governments have recognized the extreme dangers inherent in a warming planet and have begun to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, the Bush Administration has refused to sign the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty and employed a propaganda campaign to try to deny the existence of global warming. Instead, they are moving full steam ahead with a plan to secure the world’s remaining reserves of petroleum and natural gas, while simultaneously lining the pockets of their friends and associates in the energy industry.

Many Americans, though not nearly enough, understand that Iraq’s oil reserves, third largest in the world (112 billion barrels), were one of the major reasons underlying our illegal invasion and occupation of that country. Fewer Americans realize that the vast oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian Basin were a major motivation for our invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Even fewer Americans know much about Colombia, our third largest recipient of military aid and seventh largest oil supplier, where US troops are guarding Occidental Petroleum’s oil pipeline and where the so-called coca eradication efforts of our “Plan Colombia” are coincidentally concentrated in the oil producing regions of the country.

And then there is Venezuela, our fourth largest source of foreign oil, where the Bush Administration has been attempting to overthrow democratically-elected, but oil company-unfriendly, President Hugo Chavez.....and our military involvement in the Philippines, and Indonesia, both rich in oil and natural gas.....and the permanent US military bases being constructed in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan around the oil and natural gas-rich Caspian Basin.....and our increasingly bellicose language directed at Iran, with the world’s second largest oil reserves (132 billion barrels).

If anyone doubts the oily motives I have ascribed to the Bush Administration, I strongly encourage them to read Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century (September 2000) published by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and available online at The PNAC is a neoconservative Washington think tank whose goal is to further U.S. dominance. But the PNAC is not just any ordinary think tank. Many PNAC members now hold key positions in the White House, Defense and State Departments - among them, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Lewis Libby, and John Bolton, along with others in lesser positions - and the document Rebuilding America's Defenses is a blueprint for many of the present actions of the Bush Administration.

The guaranteed environmental drawbacks of a fossil fuel-based energy plan (global warming, air pollution, oil spills, etc.) are bad enough to cause a sane person to begin to look elsewhere to meet our energy needs. The wars to secure foreign fossil fuel supplies are environmental disasters in and of themselves. Additionally, however, there is the distinct possibility that the militaristic and imperialistic adventures of President Bush, particularly in the politically volatile Middle East, could trigger far, far greater damage to the environment - a nuclear confrontation that would wipe out all our forests, and every other living ecosystem on the planet, in one fell swoop.

Of course, I am sure that President Bush has carefully considered all the serious implications of his actions, and the statements I have made above are certainly not meant to imply that our president does not have a keen understanding of the vitally important energy issues. If you doubt his grasp of the issues, just refer to these quotes from our astute leader……

“We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.”
- President Bush, Trenton, New Jersey, Sept. 23, 2002

“First, we would not accept a treaty that would not have been ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for the country.”
- President Bush on the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty, Washington Post, April 24, 2001

“Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods.”
- President Bush, Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2000

“The California crunch really is the result of not enough power-generating plants and then not enough power to power the power of generating plants.”
- President Bush on the California energy crisis, January 14, 2001