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in the 1980s
BY A N T H O N Y J. A H E R N
IN THE 1980s, U.S. politicians nervously watched Japan’s ascendance
to world economic power status on the strength of trade, technology
and smart use of energy to offset the island nation’s limited resources
of crude oil, coal and natural gas. It was plain that Japan’s leadership
had learned a lesson from the Arab oil crisis of 1973. They had
developed a coherent energy policy that helped them jump ahead in
manufacturing, GDP and trade.
At the time, not many in Washington, D.C., realized that energy policy
was one of the reasons Japan was forging to the economic forefront.
While Western nations fretted about foreign oil dependency, the
Japanese had developed a national approach to energy that exactly
ﬁtted their needs.
They stockpiled oil, developed nuclear power plants, emphasized
conservation and efﬁciency, integrated coal and natural gas generation
and launched renewable projects. In short, they pioneered an “all-of-
the-above” approach to energy decades before it became a mantra
here. Why has developing U.S. energy policy been so difﬁcult? We are
blessed with fossil fuel supplies to last for hundreds of years. We once
led the world in development of nuclear power. Our grid, much
maligned as being old-fashioned because it was built in a non-
computerized era, is still sturdy, reliable and much envied by other
nations. Politicians from both parties have failed to achieve the keystone of
American self-sufﬁciency — a coherent national energy plan —
because they’ve been blown by the winds of changing public opinion
and fear of voter backlash. What has developed is a piecemeal
approach of starts and stops, often inﬂamed by misconceptions (the
dangers of fossil fuels and nuclear power being good examples) and
the inﬂuence of special interests. We’ve tried to pick winners and losers
instead of integrating all of our plentiful energy resources.
Combining domestic resources with sustainability, smart investment
and research and development will allow the U.S. — once and for all
— to advance its economic goals by having a national energy policy
that works and penalizes no one. Shouldn’t this have been the goal all
• MAY 2013
Volume 55, No. 8
www.ohioruralelectric.coop Anthony Ahern
President & CEO
Dir. of Comm.
Art & Prod. Manager
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