Third in a four-part series
What can Washington do about the near-record gas prices that a lot of us fear will cripple the economic recovery that has been slow in arriving anyway?
In the short term, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., concedes, not much.
“It’s not like America is paying a signficantly higher price for gas than anybody else in the world. This is a worldwide commodity. People in India, people in China, people in Europe are still paying that same hundred and five, hundred and six dollar barrel price that we’re paying in America,” said Warner, who nonetheless thinks that a balanced “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy could have some impact in the near term.
Also important: smart foreign policy.
“We can continue to work with our allies to promote a peaceful resolution to some of the issues that we’ve got in the Middle East. A lot of the spike in oil prices now are due to the threat that there could be more conflict in the Middle East,” Warner said, referencing ongoing tensions between Iran and Israel that have pushed speculation on oil prices in the near term.
Key as well is taking steps to wean the U.S. economy off oil-based fuels toward the long term.
“I still believe that the threat of climate change is real, so I think that in the long run we need to find ways to burn fuels that are cleaner and more fuel-efficient,” said Warner, noting strides made in the production of electric vehicles as one for-instance.
“I actually think one of the areas right now that we’ve got a great opportunity is to use liquefied natural gas as a fuel. Particularly we’ve got to start with 18-wheeler trucks, the big trucks that run up and down 81. I think with slight incentives, you convert or allow there to be natural-gas pumps at every gas station, and give an incentive to change the fuel mix very quickly for big trucks,” Warner said.
“I think we need an energy policy that is an all-of-the-above, that says, we’re going to do nuclear, we’re going to continue to look at ways we can burn coal cleaner, we do oil and gas, but we’re going to move on wind and solar and biofuels and electrification of vehicles, energy conservation. This is not an either we’re for fossil fuels or you’re not. it really needs to be an all-of-the-above,” Warner said.