America’s broken policies put our energy and environmental futures at risk


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BY DAVID HOLT:

To hear the current administration tell it, the energy crisis is over because gasoline prices have come off near-record highs. They tell us that there is no “there” there when it comes to the fact that America’s energy policy is thoroughly broken and headed down a path that is already risking our economic, national and energy security.

Pay no mind to inflation at 40-year highs and gasoline prices still well over $1.50 higher than they were in January 2021. Ignore the fact that the fundamentals that caused the problem – lack of supply, bottlenecks in refining, Putin taking advantage of European dependency on Russian oil and gas – still exist and prices are likely to go back up.

Please disregard the fact that our federal government keeps intentionally limiting U.S. energy production to essentially put the Gulf of Mexico out of the oil and gas business, even though it provides 15% of our oil supply.

Nothing to see in the UK’s economic ruin, either, where restrictive energy policies that look exactly like the ones being proposed for the U.S. caused prices to triple and felled former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government. Those same policies are expected to increase utility bills by 80% in October, barring a taxpayer-funded bailout of $172 billion.

What were some of the UK’s first steps toward disaster? Limiting exploration and production in the North Sea and bans on hydraulic fracturing. Do those sound familiar?

That is the very path some in our federal government appear to want Americans to follow. High prices from oil and gas, some argue, are why we should change our energy systems completely. They are the ones who seek to model California’s energy example, while its Europe-style policies can barely keep the lights on, strangle its economy in insane energy prices, all while backtracking on its environmental progress.

No American, regardless of party affiliation, should accept this state of affairs. This is 2022 in the most innovative nation on Earth.  We should expect more.  We should expect better policies.

We must demand sound energy policies that keep energy reliable and affordable, and require constant environmental improvement. They must be worked on as a single, three-sided challenge, and not a battle of one against the other.

What we should demand Congress and the White House focus on is creating a national energy program Americans can believe in.

First, we must understand and agree that fossil fuels will play a critical role in our energy mix while we advance toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. Anyone who says they must be eliminated fails to understand the science and overwhelming role they play in every facet of our society. No credible study concludes that we can have the energy we need without traditional fuels by 2050 and beyond so let’s work together to advance the technologies and the workforce to build an honest path to net-zero.

Second, we need to stop talking about an “energy transition” as if we are moving away from one energy and toward another. This is a misnomer and implies a pre-determined outcome. Academic studies have shown that changes in energy systems are long-term evolutions, where the most efficient, reliable and available sources are adopted over time – not legislated into or out of existence. We need them all – traditional sources, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear, you name it– because energy depends so much on where it’s deployed and why.

Third, we must supercharge our carbon capture and sequestration efforts. One solution: capture and store carbon dioxide safely underground. The technology to make this happen is already here, and it is one of the fastest ways for us to reduce the carbon footprint of critical industrial sectors like steel, cement and other manufacturing.

Fourth, the government must recognize that its wind and solar power ambitions cannot ignore the elephant in the room: the need for hundreds of billions of dollars of new transmission infrastructure. Our permitting system must be overhauled in a way that speeds projects along while not compromising on safety and environmental studies. It no longer needs to be so complex that it spawned and sustains an entire litigation industry.

While we are at it, our pipeline infrastructure needs attention. Failing to permit energy pipelines makes our environment worse by forcing energy delivery via more polluting means. Permit delays, misguided activist protests and endless litigation are curtailing and not helping carbon mitigation.  Streamline permitting today.

Fifth, we must move swiftly to expand the domestic supply chain for critical minerals essential for many modern technologies, including clean energy innovations, now controlled by China. The Administration has ordered a review of vulnerabilities in our supply chains, but we need to act now if we have any hope of moving forward without Beijing’s blessing or supplies. Like all energy-related issues, this is a clear and present national security issue that must be resolved.

These are a few points that should receive swift bipartisan support for the good of the nation. We need national leadership from Congress and the Administration to deal realistically with our energy and environmental issues. We believe those leaders exist, but it is up to all Americans to send a clear message in November that energy is too important for anyone to mishandle.

This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy

David Holt is president of Consumer Energy Alliance, a U.S. consumer energy and environment advocate supporting affordable, reliable energy for working families, seniors and businesses across the country. 

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