Energy Debate: What’s Coal? Oil? Never Heard of It

By June 28, 2007Energy

“What do you call an energy bill that doesn’t have any energy in it? We could call it a lethargy bill.”

That’s Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which reconvenes at 9:30 this morning to continue marking up six committee prints, i.e., versions of draft energy legislation. (Prints are here.) As this Washington Post story details, the process has been a slog, with a lot of intraparty disputes between committee members who recognize the importance of a functioning economy — Chairman Dingell, for example — and the seekers of a true environmental utopia.

Left out of the debate, yet again, is any attention to the supply side of the energy equation, hence Burgess’ frustration. Nothing to promote oil, coal or nuclear power. Consider the reality manufacturers face:

  • U.S. manufacturers are disproportionately impacted by energy price instability and consume roughly one third of our nation’s available supplies.
  • During roughly the last three decades, the U.S. population grew by 40 percent while energy demands grew by 47 percent. Today, imports account for fully 60 percent of our petroleum consumption and 34 percent of our total energy consumption.
  • The U.S. energy trade deficit is more than 25 percent of our total balance of payments. In the next 25 years this imbalance will worsen, as our energy consumption is forecast to grow by 34 percent, while domestic production will only increase by 27 percent.
  • With domestic demand further outstripping domestic supply, energy prices can be expected to take a further toll on America’s competitiveness. Already, higher energy costs have contributed to the loss of some 3 million American jobs.
  • Those facts are from the NAM’s “Manufacts” page on energy policy.

    And yet when it comes to proposals to allow the development of natural gas — a proven environmentally safe process — the House continues to say no, most recently on amendments to the Department of Interior appropriations. (Here’s a news story on the proposals by Rep. John Peterson, R-PA. Roll call vote here.)

    It’s hard to produce manufactured goods in an environmental utopia. To the extent Congress’ magical thinkers set U.S. energy policy, completely ignoring supply, then they succeed only in driving more business and jobs overseas. The quickest way to eliminate emissions is to shut down the economy. Unfortunately, that appears to be the policy choices being made right now.

    Join the discussion One Comment

    • nethawk says:

      This is interesting since the rest of the world is moving towards energy sources which do not trash the world around us, the place where we all live and cannot leave. You guys are advocating just the opposite – more fossil fuels.

      The energy bill is far from an “environmental utopia”. If people would just turn off their lights and appliances when they are not using them, we would likely have thousands of megawatts of electric power available for more important things. No one sacrifices anything when they turn off the lights in an unoccupied room. We have a long way to go when it comes to conservation.
      I attend a university, and probably no other place are they more wasteful with electricity – especially the students in the residence halls.

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