US Energy Future Being Held Hostage

Thursday, 27 Dec 2012 07:38 AM

By Neal Asbury

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After President Barack Obama won re-election, Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for the American Energy Alliance said: "I think what's disappointing is that the policies that have seen gas prices rise and electricity rates skyrocket, and which basically worked to kill the coal industry — I think it's disappointing that those policies will continue to be in place."

I think Cole’s remarks should reflect the disappointment all Americans should feel about the war on coal. Fossil fuels are not going away no matter what the president thinks.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) still sees a fossil fuel future for the United States with fossil fuels representing 77 percent of energy consumption in 2035, compared with 82 percent in 2011.

How important is coal to the United States? It directly and indirectly employs around 1.5 million American workers and brings $16 billion to the American economy through exports.

Some 23 percent of our primary energy needs are met by coal, and 50 percent of our electricity is generated from coal. About 70 percent of world steel production depends on coal. Coal is the world's most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel source. The International Energy Agency expects a 43 percent increase in its use from 2000 to 2020.

Meanwhile, a 2007 report from the EIA said the United States had a "demonstrated reserve base" of nearly 500 billion metric tons of coal, and it regarded 267 million metric tons — enough for 240 years — of that as "economically recoverable." The United States is unquestionably the Saudi Arabia of coal.

In 2008 approximately 1.17 billion tons of coal was consumed in the United States to produce electricity, steel, plastics, aspirin, cosmetics, asphalt and a variety of other products.

Recently, on my Made in America radio show, my guest was Marlo Lewis, Jr., a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He takes exception to the national tour by author, activist and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, who is asking colleges to divest their investments in energy companies that use fossil fuels. Lewis characterized McKibben “as another climate alarmist who suggests that every day we don’t end our use of fossil fuels, it’s another day we come closer to the end of civilization.”

This is just nonsense. The fossil fuel industry has invested billions of dollars to make fuels safer to use. Coal is more environmentally friendly than at any time in its history.

As for petroleum, we should be expanding domestic drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And by the way, we import most of our oil from Canada and Mexico, not the Middle East.

So fossil fuels are here to stay, despite the Obama administration’s energy policies.

Yet, Obama’s green energy initiative just isn’t working out, even after putting $5 billion of taxpayer money behind his goal of having 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.

Want to know how that’s working out? Just over 31,000 battery-powered and plug-in electric vehicles have been sold during 2012, which is a paltry 0.28 percent of all vehicles sold this year (including conventional hybrids, that percentage goes up to 3.26 percent). The message from consumers is loud and clear: electric cars haven’t proven to be technologically reliable and the price tag remains prohibitively high.

The irony behind electric cars is they are powered by the energy source the environmentalists hate most … coal!

The reality is that more than 85 percent of the world’s current energy needs are met through fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Demand for energy is projected to increase primarily in developing countries, which are beginning to drive more cars and use more electricity.

Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, projects Asia will account for 85 percent of the entire global increase in demand for oil and gas over the next 20 years.

He has stated that "The bottom line is that Asia will drive most of the world's import demands and energy needs for the foreseeable future. But our decreasing reliance on oil and gas imports does not mean the U.S. has an incentive to disengage from the Middle East or any other part of the world.”

In essence, as Environmental Protection Agency regulations put more and more coal plants out of business, America will need to increase imports of energy. So instead of shipping billions of dollars’ worth of coal overseas where they will pay top dollar, we are killing U.S. coal production, with the result that every American will have to pick up the tab for higher energy prices.

It’s time we had a serious discussion on energy. The government must stop forcing American consumers to buy electric vehicles when they clearly don’t want them. What American consumers are looking for is more reliance on American energy, cleaner energy and lower prices at the pump.

When American consumers are ready to embrace green energy like electric cars they’ll do so the old fashioned way: with their wallets.

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

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