Invest in Clean Energy and New Technology
Today, America relies heavily on fossil fuels, which are detrimental to the environment and pose geopolitical risks. We must facilitate investment in research and find economical ways to develop and utilize solar, geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, biofuel, and other clean energy alternatives. Tax incentives that encourage and reward investment should be offered to motivate the private sector to increase the scope, availability, and practicality of these alternatives.
We must also acknowledge that that the transition from dependence on fossil fuels to clean, sustainable energy sources will take many years. In the interim, we must do everything possible to reduce our reliance on foreign nations for fossil fuels, which leaves us vulnerable to hostile regimes that can disrupt our energy supplies. Too much of what we spend on foreign oil has ended up in the hands of rogue regimes and terrorist organizations bent on destroying our democracy, against whom we must expend further billions in defense.
Develop New Domestic Sources of Energy:
We cannot immediately eliminate the need for foreign oil, but we can increase domestic oil production. Estimates by the Department of Energy indicate that as much as 30 billion barrels of crude oil are available within our territory, and scientists from Cornell University have estimated that 60 billion barrels of shale oil could be retrieved from the Gulf of Mexico--in total, nearly 10 times the 10 billion barrels we've imported from Saudi Arabia since the beginning of this decade.
New methods of oil discovery and recovery are far safer and less disruptive than previous technologies, making it possible to expand domestic drilling with less risk to the environment. New undersea recovery techniques, for example, may even help to protect ocean waters by reducing natural seepage of oil.
Build New Refineries
It has been 30 years since a new refinery was constructed in the United States. New technologies which did not exist three decades ago now make it possible to build refineries more efficiently and with less adverse environmental impact than was possible during the 1970's. Regulations on the refining industry need to take into account these advances in technology and environmental safety.
Increasing the supply of domestic oil--and natural gas, which is plentiful in the United States--is one important aspect of making energy more affordable and sustaining economic growth as we develop a reliable national supply of clean, renewable energy sources.
Upgrade and Enhance our Electric Grid
One of the challenges we face in developing new sources of clean energy is an antiquated electric grid and power lines that lose as much as 30% of their electricity between source and destination. America's electric grid needs an overhaul to improve the distribution of electric energy, and battery technology to store energy efficiently.
Foster Advances in Clean Nuclear Power
We also need to take a fresh look at clean nuclear power. Today, America has 104 nuclear power plants, producing 20 percent of our electricity. In contrast, France produces 80 percent of its electricity using nuclear power. New generations of reactors use fuel more completely and pose fewer environmental risks than the generation of reactors currently on line, all of which are more than 30 years old. We should reconfigure the regulations and taxation policies that have deterred advances in nuclear power and facilitate sensible development of this promising clean energy technology, carefully selecting the location of plants to minimize risk to our population and to the environment.
Recognize the Dangers and Fallacies of Cap-and-Trade
Serious concerns about the threat to our planet from centuries of burning carbon-based fuels have led to a strong movement towards carbon mitigation, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) released via fossil fuels.
Cap-and-trade mechanisms have been proposed to reduce GHGs. Simply put, in cap-and-trade, the federal government will set limits on the amount of GHGs that can be emitted by any given activity (such as electric power generation by a coal-fired plant), and the producers of GHGs will be given a certain number of credits and allowances to meet those limits. Credits can be bought and sold by producers who can't meet the limits, or who can reduce GHGs to even lower than the limits, respectively.
A more accurate name for "cap-and-trade" is "cap-and-tax." It is a bad idea:
1. It sets unrealistic goals for what can be accomplished within a given period of time; to meet them would require sacrifices that Americans cannot sustain and would undermine our economy.
2. It puts into place a complex system of carbon-emission credits that will unfairly favor certain industries and political constituencies.
3. The cost of the credits system and of the energy produced under such a system will put an enormous burden on American consumers, and will increase the cost of American goods. The United States will lose businesses and jobs to countries that refuse to abide by our cap-and-trade restrictions.
Harness the Power of Americans in a Free Market
Instead of cap-and-trade, we should use tax credits to incentivize the development of solar, geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, biofuel, and other clean sustainable sources of energy. By fostering investment and entrepreneurship--in part by reducing our overall tax burden--, money will readily flow into the production of earth-friendly, America-friendly energy. We should also provide tax breaks to people and businesses that use such energy sources as substitutes for fossil fuels, purchase energy-efficient automobiles and appliances, and use construction techniques that reduce net energy consumption and preserve natural resources. In addition, we need to ensure that the regulations governing energy production and utilization make economic sense, providing essential environmental protections without incurring needless expense in compliance.