Americans must restart our creative engines for energy security. For more than 30 years, our engines have been in the pits, as our energy needs and innovative spark have fallen victim to environmental alarmism and strangling government regulation. What we have to do begins with where we are now.
That’s also called “the status quo.” Ronald Reagan said “status quo” was “…Latin for the mess we’re in.” In the 1980 Republican convention, soon-to-be President Reagan said:
"Those who preside over the worst energy shortage in our history tell us to use less, so that we will run out of oil, gasoline, and natural gas a little more slowly. Conservation is desirable, of course, for we must not waste energy. But conservation is not the sole answer to our energy needs.
America must get to work producing more energy…Large amounts of oil and natural gas lay beneath our land and off our shores, untouched because [some] seem to believe the American people would rather see more regulation, taxes and controls than more energy.
Coal offers great potential. So does nuclear energy produced under rigorous safety standards. It could supply electricity for thousands of industries and millions of jobs and homes…
Make no mistake. We will not permit the safety of our people or our environmental heritage to be jeopardized, but we are going to reaffirm that the economic prosperity of our people is a fundamental part of our environment.”
It’s ridiculous how little has changed in almost three decades of arguing this issue. Reagan identified the failures of Carter-era energy policies then, and now the liberals of today—along with some conservatives—are just proposing more of the same:
• Windfall profits taxes on oil companies, which only succeeded in increasing our dependence on imported oil the last time Democrats passed them in 1980.
• More regulation and taxation, such as cap-and-trade systems that are designed to raise energy costs while trying to cut carbon emissions. Studies have shown that the recent Cap-and-Trade bill would result in electricity price increases of at least 101 percent and gasoline prices increases of up to 145 percent by 2030, resulting in millions of jobs lost and a lower standard of living. The European Union has already imposed a Cap-and-Trade scheme that has proven to be spectacularly unsuccessful in lowering emissions while raising energy costs. According to an Open Europe report, emissions increased in the EU by 0.8 percent in the first year of the program, with many European nations showing emissions rising faster than in the U.S.
• Declaring American oil and gas reserves off-limits to exploration, ignoring advances in environmentally safer exploration technology that could produce more energy at home, rather than sending $600 billion out of our own country to hostile regimes. Meanwhile, Cuba and China are drilling 50 miles off the Florida Keys.
Instead of falling back to failed, harmful political gimmicks, let’s start our creative engines with a strategic plan of productive action. Currently, 85 percent of America’s energy comes from carbon-based fuels. The advances in carbon sequestration technology and renewable resource energies needed to supplement and enhance oil, gas, and coal are years, if not decades, away from viability. We need to produce more energy here at home now.
• The federal government must allow willing states to explore in deep water off their coasts and share royalties with those states. From Alaska to Virginia, states want to access oil and natural gas reserves. Let them do so for the sake of our energy security and for lower prices for American families.
• America has 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves, more than any other nation. We need to press ahead with developing clean coal for base load electricity and coal-to-liquid technology. China and South Africa are already synthesizing coal into liquid transportation fuels and so can America, to fuel cars, trucks, trains and airplanes.
• Nuclear power is a clean air source of electricity, and we must streamline the regulatory processes that have resulted in no new nuclear power plants coming online in decades. The French get more than 80 percent of their electricity from nuclear power and reprocess and recycle the spent fuel in a much safer and more efficient way. America can too, and we can finally solve the issue of nuclear storage.
If we pursue these common sense, available sources of energy now, we can fuel our economic prosperity and provide the capital to drive our innovators to develop the next generation of energy resources—whether it be clean coal, advanced nuclear, natural gas, solar, or nanotech-enhanced batteries and cost saving energy conservation—that will provide real alternatives. America: Start your creative engines!