Driving on Sunshine
What do former Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz and former Clinton CIA director James Woolsey have in common? Both are foreign policy hawks, and their thinking has put them front and center in the small-c conservative argument in support of moving away from fossil fuels as a national-security issue. Woolsey co-founded the Set America Free Coalition and the U.S. Energy Security Council. The latter proclaims: “Oil's status as a strategic commodity undermines U.S. national security and weakens the U.S. economy. Reducing oil's strategic importance requires breaking its virtual monopoly over transportation fuel.”
Schultz leads the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and chairs the advisory boards of Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy and MIT’s Energy Initiative. In a new Stanford University News interview, Schultz explains his involvement with energy issues, from his days as Secretary of the Treasury when the Arab oil embargo hit in 1973, to the successful campaign to defend California’s ambitious greenhouse-gas-reduction law in 2010, to his current efforts to build support for a carbon tax.
Says Schultz: “What we do today is going to have a big impact on the future. I have three, soon to be four, great-grandchildren. I've got to do what I can to see that they have a decent world. And if we let this go on and on the way it's going right now, they're not going to have one. Getting control of carbon is right at the heart of the problem.”
The two statesmen also walk their talk, and with sound bites. When I interviewed Woolsey in 2009, his plug-in Toyota Prius wore a bumper sticker that proclaimed “Bin Laden Hates This Car.” In his recent interview Schultz quips about his electric Nissan Leaf powered by rooftop solar panels: "I'm driving on sunshine. Take that, Ahmadinejad!"
Image by iStock/KrivosheevV
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”