We need a national energy policy - NOW

We need a national energy policy – NOW

Developing sources of energy sufficient enough to provide for our nation’s needs is very serious business. Yet we are one of the few developed nations in the world without a succinct energy policy. We don’t seem to realize we are in direct competition with the Chinese for valuable resources on our own soil! Instead, I think we politicize resources and produce one fiasco after another, costing our citizens money and adding to the national debt.

Remember Cash for Clunkers? We gave cash incentives to get 700,000 “gas guzzlers” off the road. In my opinion, short-sighted politicians wrote the law without restricting the purchase of new vehicles to American-made cars. Over 50% of the new vehicles sold were foreign.

What about the savings? We spent $3 billion to replace 700,000 vehicles getting an average of 15 MPG with new vehicles getting an average of 25 MPG (a savings of about 320 gallons per vehicle per year). We paid $3 billion to save approximately $350 million per year (10-year payback). We saved 5 million barrels of $70 per gallon oil per year (about five hours of U. S. oil consumption). Do you think this program significantly reduced our dependence on foreign sources of crude oil?

A government spokesperson recently stated that we achieved a record decline in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2009 (approximately 5.8%). He said, “The large decline in emissions in 2009 was driven by the economic downturn, combined with a less energy-driven economy and a decrease in the carbon intensity of the energy supply.” I thought the economy alone was down more than 6%. It has also been shown by life-cycle analysis that corn-based ethanol production actually increases GHG emissions.

Environmentalists and the EPA recently obtained approval to put as much as 15% ethanol into gasoline. Auto manufacturers warned against it for seal durability and said fuel economy will suffer significantly and GHG emissions will increase. Again it costs consumers money and adds to the national debt.

As an example, let’s examine the impact of one new electric automobile. Our government is paying a $7,500 subsidy to purchasers of this $42,000 vehicle. This is after we spent a fortune bailing out the car’s manufacturer previously. Thus far these cars are flying out of dealers’ doors at a rate of 300 vehicles per month. But the U.S. automaker is producing 100,000 of the cars per year. I don’t see how is this going to work.

With a national energy policy, decisions could be made based on whether or not they pointed our country in the right direction, not on politics. We desperately need our economy to grow significantly so we can reduce the soaring national debt. We need to reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign sources of crude oil. In my opinion, we need to focus on alternative resources like natural gas before the Chinese own them.

I believe, we have the perfect opportunity to develop a national energy policy, which emphasizes the use of U.S.-sourced crude oil and national gas for transportation fuels, as an option. We can emphasize natural gas and geothermal energy for heating fuels and industrial processes. Both natural gas and geothermal energy are proven technologies that our scientists can begin optimizing now. Then we can look at energy storage mechanisms to enable electric, solar and wind power to become more cost competitive.

At present, it seems the Chinese are buying U.S. natural gas and basic resources (lumber, etc.) as fast as possible because they understand the need for resources to fuel their growing economy. I’d like to see some effort put into adopting an energy policy  before it’s too late.

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