America needs a consistent and realistic approach to energy. People across the country are hurting as the price of energy continues to rise. Hefty prices at the gas pump are forcing Americans not to drive as frequently or to explore other means of travel. High heating and cooling costs are making it difficult for families to make ends meet. Simply put, high energy costs negatively affect access to affordable food, medical care, clothing, and many other necessities that support our traditionally high standard of living.
Additionally, throughout history, our sources of energy have been key factors in the calculation of our nation’s security and capacity to respond to a crisis. Our ability to produce energy domestically and to import energy through protected sea-lanes has been a major factor in our success in times of peace, international instability, and war. This is especially important to millennials. According to a Generation Opportunity poll commissioned by the polling company inc./WomanTrend (April 16–22, 2011, +/– 4% margin of error), energy dependence was considered the second greatest threat to national security with 62% of 18–29-year-olds identifying with the issue.
For these reasons, it is imperative that the United States adopt both short-term and long-term energy policies that allow for a greater development of resources. In the same Generation Opportunity poll, 70% (net) of 18–29-year-olds polled would like an increase in production of domestic energy sources like oil, natural gas, and coal. President Obama issued a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf Coast in response to the BP oil spill of 2010, although he still permitted existing deepwater wells to produce oil and has since then lifted the ban. As a result, it was recently announced that around 20 oil rigs off the Gulf Coast intend to leave and go elsewhere, in addition to the 11 that already have left. Not only does this represent a loss in American jobs, but it potentially leaves us even more dependent on foreign oil and does nothing to alleviate high energy costs. America needs to issue permits at an accelerated rate in the Gulf Coast and allow companies to increase domestic energy exploration to create jobs for American workers, help drive down the cost of energy, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
This does not mean that we should abandon our efforts at protecting the environment. At the same time, however, we cannot have environmental regulations that stifle job creation. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a standard for power plants that would restrict emissions. It was expected that this regulation would cause dozens of coal plants to close their doors. Furthermore, it would have placed a heavy financial burden on power companies and— more importantly —their customers. Under heavy bipartisan pressure, President Obama overruled his own EPA team, and the EPA has rescinded, at least temporarily, this regulation as it waits for possible new draft regulations in 2013. In today’s tough economic climate, we must champion pro–job growth policies that balance and respect the interests of workers who are already employed and making a living in energy production.
Solving energy dependence also involves alternative energy. Wind, solar, nuclear, biofuel, and geothermal energy could be very promising if properly harnessed. Alternative energy would help us have less of an impact on our natural resources, would drive down the cost of energy, and is a potentially large job market waiting to be tapped. However, the market should drive alternative energy investments, not government mandates or massive taxpayer investments in technologies or companies that are either unproven or unstable. American ingenuity, corporate investment, and consumer demand will result in more efficient delivery of alternative energies to the market without reliance on taxpayer subsidies to lower production costs. At the same time, taxpayers should be relieved of the burden of having their hard-earned money used to subsidize research and exploration conducted by already well-established and well-financed energy companies.
KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK – ENERGY POLICY:
Here are some fundamental questions about energy to keep in mind as you read news articles, blogs, and Facebook posts, listen to speeches, or watch a commentator on television. These are also important questions to ask at an event or to pose to elected officials as they zero in on the core of an issue and whether or not what is being talked about or proposed will result in more economic opportunity and individual freedom for Americans.
Does what is being talked about or proposed:
- Ultimately lower the cost of gasoline to the consumer? Or does it just add new regulations and taxes that will limit supply and further increase costs?
- Allow those who explore for and produce energy to do so while respecting the environment and land without overregulation? Or does it give the government increased regulatory authority to choke off domestic energy production?
- Promote the greater exploration for and use of domestic sources of energy without taxpayer subsidization? Or does it increase our dependence on foreign energy sources?
- Allow the government to mandate the use of potentially less efficient or unproven energy sources at taxpayer expense? Or does it allow individuals to make decisions based on their own budgets and needs?
- Inadvertently penalize Americans who are less wealthy, have large families, or drive greater distances for their businesses or jobs through higher cost assessments for consumption?
RELATED POSTS ON FACEBOOK AT “BEING AMERICAN” – ENERGY POLICY:
Our “Being American” Facebook page has over a million fans! Take a minute to check out what we have posted on energy policy and read what fans from around the country—and even the world—think about the issue. If you would like to join the conversation but have not done so yet, do so now by becoming a fan of “Being American.”
New regulations from President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency are amounting to a war on coal, according to Andrew Morriss, a law professor at the University of Alabama. Between 2011 and 2020, about 1.4 million good paying American jobs will be lost because of new regulations, in addition to a decrease in the production of electricity which leaves America’s power grid more vulnerable to power failures. LIKE this if you think that the Obama administration should not be harming America’s energy grid and cutting jobs with more regulations. (August 7, 2012)
Eastern Kentucky is already feeling the effects of the loss of about 2,000 coal mining jobs which are being cut due, in large part, to new regulations from President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. They are causing many coal power plants to close, and transforming entire communities and ways of life at the same time. “They’re killing us,” said Thacker, 24, who was laid off from an Arch Coal mine in Knott County. LIKE this if you are concerned that more regulations from the Obama administration are killing the coal industry and putting more Americans out of work. (July 30, 2012)
Abound Solar, a Colorado solar panel startup that received $400 million in federal loan guarantees from the Obama Administration, is shutting down and filing for bankruptcy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The bankruptcy will affect 125 employees, according to Abound. LIKE this if you think that the Obama Administration should not be spending taxpayer money on projects that cannot survive in the marketplace. (June 30, 2012)
Sen. Joe Manchin opposed new regulations from President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency that will cause coal-powered electricity plants to close, cutting more American jobs, as well as driving up the price of electricity, saying, “[T]his resolution of disapproval takes an important step to rein in this out of control agency.” However, the Senate was unable to muster the votes to block the new regulations. Are you concerned that President Obama’s EPA is creating more regulations that will harm the economy and kill more American jobs? (June 22, 2012)
LINKS TO THINK TANK PAPERS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS:
Below are several links from a variety of perspectives on energy gathered from think tanks and or official sources. While not exhaustive, these provide you with even more detail on energy issues and the different perspectives in the debate about next steps in addressing energy for the future.
The BP Oil SpillRecovery Effort: The Legacy of Choices Made by the Obama Administration
The Obama administration’s moratorium on drilling immediately following the oil spill relied on inaccurate employment assumptions and unrealistic timetables for action, which caused many oil rigs and jobs to leave the region. The new permit process for drilling has added burdensome regulations and requirements, been timely, and scarcely grants permits to drill in the region. (Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 2011) Read the entire article here.
No More Energy Subsidies: Prevent the New, Repeal the Old
This report highlights the significant expenditure of taxpayer funds on energy subsidies to existing big companies and how, when the government choses to subsidize industry, they are essentially choosing how America produces and consumes energy. In 2007 alone, the government spent $16.6 billion on such subsidies and the demand by lobbyists for more subsidies has increased in an effort to jump start new energy solutions. Ultimately, taxpayers pay a high price for subsidies. (The Heritage Foundation, July 2011) Read the entire article here.
America’s Energy Security Options
America should use all of its resources for decreasing gas prices and our reliance on foreign oil, including increased domestic production and increased attention to alternative sources. (Peterson Institute for International Economics, June 2011) Read the entire article here.
American Energy Freedom: The Basis for Economic Recovery
Policymakers need to focus on making fossil fuels more accessible by easing restrictions on domestic oil exploration. (Heritage Foundation, May 2011) Read the entire article here.
Not Again: The Summer Vacation Gas Price Roller Coaster on the Move Again
High and volatile gas prices have a damaging effect on families and businesses, and policymakers should invest in alternative energy sources in order to limit the negative impacts of high gas prices on the economy. (Center for American Progress, May 2011) Read the entire article here.
How a Limited and Direct Approach Can Deliver Clean, Cheap Energy, Economic Productivity and National Prosperity
America can make the transition to alternative sources, but it will require concessions by both political parties. (American Enterprise Institute, October 2010) Read the entire article here.
How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment
The CBO estimates that efforts to reduce fossil fuel use and switch to alternative sources would lead to net losses in employment for the first decade due to the effects on people in the mining and extraction industries. (Congressional Budget Office, May 2010) Read the entire article here.