Energy becomes a more important topic each and every day, but it goes beyond the price you pay for gas at the pump. It also impacts our national security.
The economic security and stability of the United States depends on our energy independence and we should utilize our natural recourses both on and off-shore, while also exploring alternative long-term fuel options. In the absence of heavy-handed federal regulations, we can become less dependent on countries such as Iran or Venezuela to supply our energy needs. If we choose to rely substantially on foreign sources of energy, any disruption in supply could have devastating impacts on the economy of the United States.
It is critical that we move in the direction of energy independence now. Unfortunately, it seems that the only time that we are willing to discuss this issue as a nation is when it begins to hit us at the gas pumps. This is a long-term problem that's going to require long-term solutions.
First, domestic energy production needs to be increased. This includes oil, natural gas and clean coal technologies. Because of new innovations, such as hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas that were unavailable before can now be reached in a more environmentally friendly way. This has already created substantial economic growth in several states as well as increased supply. We must take advantage of these recourses as well as other oil deposits that are currently not being utilized. One such site, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), has enough oil to power Alabama for 103 years. We need to open the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for energy development and allow for permitting. There are also deposits off of the U.S. Coast that can be utilized in an environmentally friendly way. Furthermore, the Keystone XL Pipeline should be approved immediately, and we should allow for streamlined permitting of other oil and natural gas pipelines. This would create thousands of jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil. We need to expand the use of nuclear energy, which now accounts for about twenty percent of our electricity despite the fact that no new nuclear generating plants have been licensed and constructed in over thirty years.
Second, we should encourage the cost-effective development of renewable energy technologies, but we need to get out of the business of picking winners and losers. This means pursuing a market based approach – instead of unrealistic and distorting tax breaks – that utilizes innovative technologies to create electricity such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass, geothermal or any other potentially viable renewable energy sources.
Lastly, we must conserve our natural recourses and make sure that we utilize them in an environmentally friendly way. America needs to take a hard look at how much oil we consume and factor in the huge energy demand of growing markets in the developing world such as China and India. However, I certainly oppose policy proposals such as Cap & Trade and other similar carbon emission control systems that harm economic growth and destroy American jobs.
These are just a few pieces of our energy puzzle though. We can tap into these energy resources in a clean, environmentally sensitive way. With the adoption of a comprehensive national strategy, we have the ability to control our own energy future. But to do so, we must act today.