STEVE BEREN ON ENERGY POLICY
STEVE BEREN SIGNS AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION ENERGY FREEDOM PLEDGE CLICK HERE
STEVE BEREN RESPONDS TO MCDERMOTT'S "GAS STAMPS" BILL CLICK HERE
The world has plenty of oil - certainly far more oil than the dire claims of the far left environmentalists. Is the debate about oil "over," or is there much more to be said? Is the gloom and doom crowd far off base?
Judge for yourself: even the biased New York Times had to concede as much in a page one article on March 5, 2007: "With plenty of oil still left in familiar locations, forecasts that the world's reserves are drying out have given way to predictions that more oil can be found than ever before."
The Times quoted Daniel Yergin, author of a Pulitzer Prize for his history of oil: "It's the fifth time to my count that we've gone through a period when it seemed the end of oil was near and people were talking about the exhaustion of resources..... Back then [in the 1880s, 1920s, 1950s, and 1970s] we were going to fly off the oil mountain. Instead we had a boom and oil went to $10 instead of $100." And the Times also quoted Chevron engineer Jeff Hatlen: "That's why peak oil is a moving target. Oil is always a function of price and technology."
When it comes to energy policy, we need to prioritize.
First, we need to put the highest priority on ending our dependence on foreign oil. Our national security gives this a special priority in any energy policy. If we are going to use oil, it is preferable that we use domestic oil – American oil. Let’s put Americans to work, drilling American oil for America! We must remove the regulations, restrictions, and obstacles that block the construction of new oil refineries. And to increase supply and reduce prices, let's drill here, and drill now.
But that will not solve the overall historic energy problem of decreasing supplies and increasing prices for oil. With China and India (representing about half the world's population) continually increasing their demand for energy, there will be constant pressures on the price of oil. We need to recognize that there is no one simple answer to the rising price of oil. There is no single alternative – we need to be comprehensive and open-minded in our policies.
We need to create an "21st Century Project" for energy, utilizing science, technology, and industry – utilizing American creativity and led by the private sector - to develop the alternate sources of energy for the future.
In particular, nuclear energy holds great promise. The energy capabilities contained within the atom are immensely greater than what we can expect from fossil fuels. There should be a strong increased emphasis on nuclear energy, and renewed construction of nuclear power plants.
A half century ago, we assumed oil would forever be plentiful and inexpensive. But we can’t assume that what is plentiful or scarce now will remain so, and we can’t assume what is inexpensive will remain so. No single source of energy will be the magical solution to achieving energy independence. We must be open to the possibilities afforded by all sources of energy – coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar, wind, biofuels, and the alternative fuels of the future.
But we need to be realistic as well. For example, it is becoming increasingly evident that biofuels are no panacea. In fact, the use biofuels has proven to be inefficient and even counter-productive. And biofuel production has interfered with agricultural production, and harmed the environment. Biofuels may have a role to play in overall energy policy, but at the present time there should be a decreased emphasis on biofuels.
Any future energy policy in the state of Washington should continue to rely heavily on hydroelectric power, which supplies about 85% of the power in this state.
Some people say that solar and wind power are impractical and inexpensive. But we should not assume that will always be true in the future. Some people say that coal is dirty. But we should not assume that will be true in the future. There are safety concerns about nuclear power, but that is a challenge that can be conquered through American ingenuity, creativity, science, and entrepreneurship.
We can overcome the obstacles and discover the solutions of the future - while at the same time safeguarding the environment. We can make hydroelectric even more productive, we can make wind and solar more practical and inexpensive, we can make coal clean, and we can make nuclear safe. Rather than America being dependent on Mideast oil, we can have a future where China, India, and other big consumers of energy look to America as the provider of the new energy sources of the future. And that will also be excellent for the American economy.
One last point, and it just might be the most important. We need to persuade the American people of the urgency of ending our dependence on foreign oil. If we don’t do that job of persuasion, the effort won’t succeed. We need to stress the reality of the national security aspect of this issue. Every time a politician refers to a “so-called threat,” a “so-called war,” “so-called terrorism,” the rationale for a successful energy independence policy is undermined.
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