America’s Energy Policy: Obstruct Supply, Marvel at Price
High energy costs are a mystery. No matter how much we prohibit domestic production, prices just keep going up — and we just keep getting more dependent on foreign sources. There is no law of economics that can explain it, no hypothetical relationship between supply and demand that could predict price. Bill O’Reilly must be right. High prices must be the result of a secret plot by big oil, or perhaps the freemasons.
Well, that’s one explanation. Or we could consider a radical alternative: prices are high because Americans object to every source of energy known to mankind.
For example, there is oil off the coast of California, but we will not drill for it for fear of disrupting Barbara Streisand’s Feng Shui. We pretend that it is concern for the environment that stops the drilling, but does anyone really believe that it is more dangerous to transport oil for a few miles from an offshore rig to the coast than it is to transport oil from 10,000 miles away to the same coast?
America also denies itself the oil offshore of Florida and in northern Alaska due to similar nonsense.
But that’s OK, because America has enough coal to last for centuries. Except we can’t mine it lest we make a hole. And we can’t burn it because it really is unpleasant to be around.
Natural gas is a good alternative. It burns cleanly, but nobody wants it transported through their backyard. New England still relies upon noxious home heating oil, in part, because none of the states whining about pollution and price will permit terminals for LNG tankers. They’re scary. Not as scary as Iran building a nuclear bomb with oil money, but scary.
No matter, we can live without domestic fossil fuels because we are willing to produce practical alternative fuels, right?
Hydropower is proven and emission-free, but it impedes travel by fish -so no more of that.
Wind power is feasible in select sites, renewable, and non-polluting. But windmills are ugly. In a fabulous example of elitist hypocrisy, a proposed wind farm off the coast of gusty Martha’s Vineyard has been obstructed by the wealthy environmentalists that live there, because it might be visible on their horizon. Sure it could make the world a better place -but what about Walter Cronkite’s view?
Solar? Expensive and impractical in most places, so it’s currently a favorite. It would be perfect for providing electricity to isolated areas -a market that could fuel the development of technology for use elsewhere. But this market is subsidized onto the general electric grid by the rural electrification act. So instead, government subsidizes the grid to half-heartedly experiment with solar.
I know: Ethanol! Energy from corn, grown in the heartland. Clean burning and good for the family farm. Except that agriculture is so dependent upon fossil fuels for tilling, fertilizing, harvesting, and transportation that it takes more than a gallon’s worth of oil to make one gallon of ethanol. Ethanol as a replacement for fossil fuel is thus a perpetual motion machine, but one with a good lobby in Washington.
But even ethanol seems practical compared to hydrogen, the President’s favorite idea for “the future”. Hydrogen makes only water when burned. Unfortunately, hydrogen can be made only from fossil fuels (see “perpetual motion machine” above) or the electrolysis of water, which requires an abundant supply of clean, cheap electricity; and if we had that, why would we need hydrogen?
There is, though, one alternative that is practical, economical, and emission-free: nuclear. So that’s the one that everybody hates most. Nuclear energy could even power a “hydrogen economy” with non-polluting and affordable electricity. But it is scary. The media has seen to that. It will make you glow in the dark and it can explode for no reason, creating three-eyed fish and imparting strange super-powers to anyone bit by the radioactive spiders that inevitably result. So America has rejected nuclear too.
Instead, we live in a fantasy world in which we need not develop our own oil, coal, gas, hydropower, wind power or nuclear, and dream instead about hydrogen and ethanol because we know they are too far off to require hard decisions anytime soon. We restrict supply and then complain about price. And we stifle our economy while fueling the economies of our enemies.
Many critics contend that America does not have an energy policy. But that is wrong. Our policy is clear and long-standing: produce little, use lots, and wonder why things never get better.