Energy policy in the United States for today and tomorrow involves much more than providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to consumers. The energy policy of the future must take into consideration global terrorism, foreign policy, national security, environmental concerns, the fear that climate change will cause catastrophic consequences, and worldwide economic considerations. Ten essential principles that must be included in a U.S. energy policy are:
Reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic energy production.
The world and United States have vast crude oil and natural gas reserves, but policies must allow for exploration and production.
Crude oil, natural gas and coal will provide a majority of U.S. energy needs for many years to come.
Policies enacted should have a positive impact on U.S. economy, national security and foreign policy.
Make certain that the environmental gain (i.e., reduction in greenhouse gases) outweighs economic pain.
Other countries must reduce greenhouse gases similarly.
Policy must be based on sound science.
Energy efficiency and conservation should be increased.
Encourage research and development in technology.
Government actions must be based on market conditions and consumers' needs, and private enterprise must be the spark plug that ignites the engine.
Policymakers must recommend realistic and pragmatic solutions. Policies that are unrealistic, and reflect only wishful thinking, will create future energy shortages, accompanied by higher prices. Realistic proposals should be based on market forces and consumer preferences. Economic consequences of each idea should be analyzed and compared to gain achieved through changes in the environment, conservation or new technology.
Sound science must serve as the cornerstone of any policy regarding climate change or global warming. Energy efficiency is the cheapest, most plentiful form of new energy. Energy saved is energy found.
Diversity of domestic energy supplies is critical. Whether it is crude oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, ethanol, etc., the key must be building a mix of energy that continues America's economic and military strength.
Even though renewable energy sources appear to be the current preference of Washington policymakers, the fact remains that it will be decades before renewable energy will play a large role in providing sufficient amounts of energy at competitive prices. Federal and state governments should continue to encourage private enterprise to invest in renewable energy, but it would be a catastrophic mistake to tax or punish one source of energy, i.e. hydrocarbons (crude oil and coal), to finance renewable energy research.
Any policy adopted by the United States regarding reduction of greenhouse gas emissions should be adopted by all other countries, too, especially the 15 countries with the largest economies. Restrictions on energy production, or increases in taxes, could make U.S. businesses less competitive.
While the largest portion of imported oil comes from Canada and Mexico, the United States continues to import substantial amounts from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Crude oil imports pose unique political, military, economic and foreign policy issues for the United States. A policy that includes reduction of crude oil imports will have many positive benefits for Americans.
Cross is president of the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association.