As Congressional energy bills make energy (and transportation) progressively more expensive, it’s worth recalling that it was cars (and carpooling) that made Martin Luther King’s Montgomery bus boycott viable. For many black people in Montgomery, that was the only transportation alternative to the segregated buses that demeaned them. Technological and economic progress was key to breaking down entrenched segregation in the Deep South.
In today’s Washington Times, Niger Innis, head of the Congress of Racial Equality, points to the continuing importance of the economic progress made possible by cheap energy, and how Congressional policies that thwart energy production have contributed to spiraling energy costs that disproportionately harm minorities and the poor. As a result of ethanol mandates and subsidies, he notes, “Food prices soar and millions starve” in the Third World (a catastrophe chronicled earlier by African Energy News). Meanwhile, Congress has “locked up” areas where oil drilling could “safely” occur, such “the Outer Continental Shelf” and “Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” cutting domestic oil supply by “20 billion gallons of gasoline annually” and driving up energy prices at the expense of consumers and workers who are laid-off from their jobs.
Without “abundant, reliable, affordable energy,” he writes, “hope, opportunity, progress, job creation and civil rights are hobbled. Laws and policies that restrict access to America’s abundant energy drive up the price of fuel and electricity. They cause widespread layoffs and leave workers and families struggling to survive, as the cost of everything they eat, drive, wear and do spirals higher. They roll back the progress for which civil rights revolutionaries like the Rev. Martin Luther King struggled and died.”