Conservatives Addressing Peak Oil

By now, most of us following the peak oil issue know about Maryland’s Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and his efforts to bring the issue into the political arena. Alternet’s Jan Frel demonstrates, though, that Bartlett isn’t alone on the right: both Christian conservatives and security hawks are concerned about peak oil, and are even organizing to address it. While progressive environmental activists are concerned about the motivations behind such concern, no one is turning these folks away:

NRDC‘s Deron Lovaas said of the motives that brought conservative coalition together, “The hawks are doing this because they want to forestall a conflict with China, and they see competition for petroleum resources as a likely instigator. Gary Bauer’s interest is religious freedom for repressed Christian and Jewish minorities in the Middle East. I care about fuel emissions, our massively wasteful transport system, and our security, of course.”

Asked whether he hesitated to sign on with Set America Free because of the longstanding reputations of its members (Gaffney’s complicity in Bush’s missile defense, Iraq, and Israeli policies, or Gary Bauer’s strident anti-homosexuality and abortion views), Lovaas said, “Politics is about addition. There are tremendous differences between many of the members in this but we all agree about energy security. The kitchen is still way too hot for other environmental groups to sign on, but these supporters [of energy security] shouldn’t be ignored.”

Lovaas pointed out that the reach of its membership cast a net that progressive energy independence efforts can’t reach, and also touches into media that progressives don’t have access to. Frank Gaffney for example, has a regular column in the Washington Times. Lovaas also said that because of Set America Free, hawkish and conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman has started pushing hard for policies that produce energy independence, drawing interest from the even more conservative Republican senators Sam Brownback and Jeff Sessions. “This thing is moving really fast; the rate of progress some weeks is quite dizzying,” Lovaas said.

While I’ve written about some of these conservative efforts on energy security, I didn’t realize how strong the momentum had become. As an environmental advocate, I’m happy to see these ideas catching on; as a progressive/liberal, I have to wonder if we’re not, at some levels, making a deal with the devil.

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