A Useful Reminder About Energy

By November 11, 2007Energy, Global Warming

Lots of debate in Congress this upcoming week about throttling the economy by imposing new taxes on energy and restricting development of domestic energy resources. We have hearings on S. 2191, the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade — not cheap, says Arthur Laffer — and continued House efforts to adopt the killer-CAFE language that passed the Senate. Energy mandates are possible in the Farm Bill, coal will get kicked around at a Senate Energy and Commerce hearing Tuesday on surface mining and reclamation, and the House Energy Independence and Grandstanding Committee profiles two Democratic governors — Spitzer and Napolitano — for being “low carbon” at a hearing Wednesday.

It’s worth noting Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman’s comments last Thursday at a Washington Post energy conference.

First, demand for energy is rising rapidly and will continue to do so. I trust you’ve heard these staggering projections before: by 2030, we estimate that global energy consumption will grow by over 50 percent, with 70 percent of that growth coming from the world’s emerging economies. For electricity specifically, we estimate that U.S. demand will increase by about 50 percent by 2030, with global demand nearly doubling. To meet the future demand in this country, we would require 285,000 megawatts of new base-load capacity. By way of comparison, that represents roughly the total capacity of all the coal-burning power plants now operating in the U.S. or almost three times the capacity of the existing fleet of nuclear plants.

Shall we just ignore this reality, whistle and look the other way? Or is economic growth really the enemy?

We note that Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell is speaking Tuesday at the Alliance to Save Energy’s Energy Efficiency Global Forum. Efficiency and conservation are a major piece of addressing America’s energy needs.

But so is supply.

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