Energy Reality   Leave a comment

America needs an energy policy that promotes environmental sustainability and economic growth. Yet many members of Congress and the Presidential administration are promoting policies and promulgating regulations that centralize power in Washington—an approach that leads to the high prices, energy shortages, and foreign dependence that politicians use to justify their failed big-government policies. Americans should demand an energy policy that is rooted in the free market, builds on private property rights, and relies on the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector. This will not only promote economic growth, but also help Americans to achieve their environmental objectives. Ultimately, it is economic prosperity, not government dictate, that provides the means to protect the environment.

Let’s start with some reality, shall we?

The world is NOT running out of oil. Three decades ago, proven world oil reserves were 645 billion barrels. In 2005, reserves were at 1.28 trillion barrels, and in 2009, reserves were 1.34 trillion. New, innovative technologies and sound policies to allow access will help to recover that oil and discover more. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s policies are keeping much of this resource off-limits, which means higher prices and more dependence on foreign oil

Solar and wind energy receive subsidies of  over $23/Mwh (megawatt hour) compared with $1.59/Mwh for nuclear, $0.44/Mwh for conventional coal, and $0.25/Mwh for natural gas. This does not include the $27.2 billion allocated in the 2009 “stimulus” bill for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and investment. Congress mandated that renewable fuels be mixed into the gasoline supply and required production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022. Energy subsidies and mandates reduce competition, inflate prices, and stifle technological innovation. Americans have to pay twice for the subsidies – first, through higher taxes and second, with higher energy prices. We possibly will pay for it a third time if ethanol turns out to have similar environmental issues to what its predecessor MTBE had.

The federal government owns and controls 650 million acres of land in the United States, including large portions in the western U.S. For instance, the federal government owns approximately 85% of the land in Nevada, 69% of Alaska, 57% of Utah, and 53% of Oregon. The federal government does not adequately maintain its land, much of which could be put to much more productive use like ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership.

The science behind global warming is anything but certain, but one thing is clear — the policies to cap carbon dioxide and mandate “clean” energy production are very expensive. The cap-and-trade bill passed by the House of Representatives would have resulted in 1.9 million fewer jobs in 2012, $9.4 trillion in lost economic growth from 2012–2035, and a 90% increase in the price of electricity by 2035. Proposals for a renewable electricity mandate, which would require 20% of our nation’s electricity to come from government-chosen renewable sources, are not much better. Renewable electricity currently accounts for just 3% of our electric generation. Implementing such a mandate would destroy over one million jobs, cut national income (GDP) by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035, and increase electricity prices 36%. Neither policy would have any noticeable environmental impact since CO2 is a natural byproduct of biology, but both would result in more government control of the economy, encouraging more lobbyists flooding the halls of Congress to pursue their special interests.

The U.S. gets 20% of its electricity (and 70% of its emissions-free electricity) from 104 nuclear power plants. Further, at less than two cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear energy is among the least expensive electricity produced in the U.S. and also, with no injuries or deaths as a result of commercial nuclear energy in the U.S., among the safest. Yet due to an onerous regulatory burden and the federal government’s failed strategy to manage nuclear waste, no new plants have been permitted in over three decades.

We need to wake up, people! A healthy economy requires LESS government interference, which is most easily accomplished by LESS government. Richer nations have healthier environments as well, simply because they are rich enough to utilize technology. We have got to wake up and face reality and follow a reasonable, common sense policy toward energy independence and a robust economy.

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