Via Ezra Klein , I see that periodically contrarian conservo-blogger John Cole has good post up about energy policy (also read through the comments on both posts — there’s some good stuff). Here’s Cole’s proposal for a balanced energy policy:

1.) Domestic drilling 2.) Research for alternative fuel sources other than the outrageous slush-fund known as ethanol subsidies, which should be exhibit A in any argument against having the Iowa Caucus first. 3.) Increased Cafe standards 4.) Radical improvements to Clean Coal 5.) Nuclear plant construction and research in storage of nuclear waste, as well as an administration and Congress with the political will to actually store the waste somewhere, rather than the rag-tag temporary storage everywhere in the country. 6.) Tax credits and incentives for fuel efficient vehicles, energy efficient appliances, energy efficient homes 7.) Increased refining capacity 8.) Increase oil exploration and smart extraction policies 9.) Conservation campaigns 10.) And for goodness sakes, end the tax loophole for SUV’s. Are we out of our damned minds?

I don’t agree with all of it — in particular, drilling in the Arctic Refuge for symbolism’s sake is just dumb — but here’s the thing: If a U.S. administration came out pushing for this policy, I would dance a friggin’ jig (though not, perhaps, as Ezra says, " kill the goddamn caribou myself to help it pass").

I don’t particularly want them to devote many resources to exploring for more oil, or expanding refining capacity, or fiddling with "clean coal," but I accept that at least for the short-term, oil and coal are going to be a big part of the energy equation, and we need to deal with them sensibly. But a policy like this would indicate that the administration was serious, that it recognized the problem at hand and was aggressively marshaling resources to deal with it.

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Bush’s energy bill and his recent energy proposals are, in contrast, a joke. Really an outrageous joke, without even much of the typical rhetorical flimflam to cover it up.

I find it somewhat mystifying that the Republican Party has taken a hard anti-environmental turn at a time when several environmental issues — particularly peak oil and climate change — are coming to a head. As Ed Kilgore says:

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This is a fairly recent development. I’m definitely and precisely dating myself here, but on the first Earth Day, in 1970, I was in high school in Cobb County, Georgia, a very conservative suburb of Atlanta, and we devoted much of the day to environmental programming, including a speech by (for some reason) actor Hal Holbrook. Somehow or other, nobody in that community seemed to think we were buying into eco-socialism, opposing the idea of economic growth, or slipping towards paganism, even though the early aims of the environmental movement, which quickly culminated in the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, were in many respects the most ambitious steps of all.

Republicans have added environmentalists to the list of groups they demonize to please their base, but doing so has left them in a trap. We desperately need sensible energy policy right now, but many elements of such a policy — as Cole acknowledges — are longtime tenets of the green movement, so the Repubs can’t afford to touch them. There are Repubs out there that don’t feel so constrained, but they are the exceptions, at least as far as I can tell.

Obviously their commitment to enriching big business donors plays a large part, but sometimes I honestly think that the modern Republican Party would rather send the country over a cliff than admit that any of their opponents — i.e., anyone outside their base — are right, about anything, ever.