I see this as a possible way out of our current oil and global-warming woes without inviting economic ruin:
(a) We have the technology today to build fuel-efficient vehicles, the (ugly little) Prius being one of many. High gas prices are inspiring more consumers to purchase compact cars (25% of new sales last month) - let's hope that trend increases. This won't hurt any auto manufacturers one bit, and no one has to pass a law - as an ardent capitalist, I love it!
I think it's in our national interest to spur this along, though. Right now, today, we could close the small truck/SUV tax loophole and set minimum fuel standards that would be rewarded with tax breaks. Thus, if you want a Prius, you save money; if you still want a Navigator, good for you - please pay Uncle Sam a $5,000 fee for this luxury.
(b) Let's try nuclear power again on a large scale. I think it beats the alternative. Hopefully, we'll develop a way to "disarm" the toxic waste later.
(c) Let's give tax incentives to those who purchase green alternatives such as "Al Gore light bulbs" for the home and office, solar panels where they make sense weather-wise, etc. etc.
(d) Let's pour tax-money and private capital into R&D for green technology. If thousands of entrepreneurs across the country are encouraged to start small companies to solve some of these environmental problems... hey, isn't that fostering the ingenuity and drive that has kept this country great for 400 years?
Instead of coercion, let's try incentive. I'll bet we'll get much farther.
By the way: A few months ago, Jeanmarie Hendry (of The Naples Institute) took me to a building site in Bonita - poor folks buying their first homes, which were "green" houses. The technology was simple, available today, and in several cases (like the smaller air-conditioning units) LESS expensive than the typical alternatives - indeed, a number of the solutions were merely in design, not materials, like running the air ducts at chest-level instead of up high where the hot air of the room & roof heats the cooled air on its way into the room. There's no reason every private builder couldn't incorporate those ideas into their new homes without losing whatever price-advantage they enjoy today. They would be prompted to do this with tax incentives. Again, let's inspire through benefits, not penalties.