US ENERGY POLICY HELD HOSTAGE BY OPEC AND POLITICIANS
NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
May 30, 2011
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While the Environmental Protection Agency recently declared that oil companies could once again obtain leases to explore and drill for oil domestically, the Department of Energy continues to stonewall any progress in creating an energy independent United States.
According to political strategist Mike Baker, the Obama Administration is making it more, not less difficult to achieve oil and gasoline independence.
For example, Baker points to how part of the $789 billion economic stimulus package in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided the Energy Department with an additional $38.3 billion for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, adding about 75 percent to Energy's annual budgets. Most of the stimulus spending was in the form of grants and contracts.
"When President Jimmy Carter and the U.S. Congress created the U.S. Department of Energy in 1977, little did Americans know at the time that pencil-pushing bureaucrats would slowly and silently create a colossus centralized government power," said Baker.
To understand the rationale for suddenly creating a bureaucracy, one must be familiar with the Carter Administration. Arguably the worst president in U.S. history, Carter faced double-digit inflation, domestic and foreign policy failures, and a fuel shortage so severe that Americans would actually shoot or beat someone who dared to jump the gas lines that stretched for numerous city blocks.
In an attempt to bring order -- at least, at gas stations -- driver's were allowed gasoline on alternate days according to odd or even numbers on their licence plates. If you licence ended in an even number you could gas up on Monday. Odd number? Tuesday was your day.
In addition to the shortage, gasoline prices skyrocketed as well.
Formed as a result of this gasoline crisis by President Carter's signing of legislation named The Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977, the original responsibility of the fledgling agency was energy policy.
Eventually, the Secretary of Energy included the nation's nuclear weapons program, nuclear reactor production for the United States Navy, energy conservation, energy-related research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production to the department's list of government responsibility.
DOE is today involved in more basic and applied scientific research than any other US federal agency. It is President Barack Obama who unveiled a $26.4 billion budget request for DOE for fiscal year 2011, including $2.3 billion for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Obama's budget aims to substantially expand the use of renewable energy sources while improving energy transmission infrastructure. It also makes significant investments in hybrids and plug-in hybrids, in smart grid technologies, and in scientific research and innovation.
As with any government entity, the DOE is constantly growing in size and power. For example, a new regulation will impact every single household in the nation in the coming months.
Under a law to be enforced by the DOE, all light bulbs must use 25% to 30% less energy than today's products by 2012 to 2014. The phase-in will start with 100-watt bulbs in 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70% more efficient.
Incandescent bulbs were invented over 120 years ago, and environmentalists claim they could be replaced by many superior technologies if only the right regulations and financial incentives were put in place.
The alternative to the incandescent bulb is the Compact Fluorescent Lamp. However, observers believe CFLs present their own environmental problems.
"These bulbs contain mercury. That's the only way they can work. The mercury vapor reacts to electricity to produce the light," said Paul Hemingway writing on presidential candidate Ron Paul's web site.
"This is another case of the cart before the horse. With rare exception, there is no safe way to dispose of these bulbs. They are ending up in landfills and lots of them are broken. The mercury will be seeping into the ground and our water supplies," he wrote.
"A few states were fighting against the ban on incandescent light bulbs. Now they are backing away from it. This is just another major government intrusion into our lives," said conservative political strategist Michael Baker.
To date, over 30 countries (including the members of the European Union, the US, China and Australia) have had a look at the available lighting technologies and decided that the case for the banning of domestic incandescent light bulbs stacks up.
Radical environmentalists in Britain claim the UK's ban of incandescents will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2-3 million tons. Similarly the EU's annual emissions will be reduced by 23 million tons. Meanwhile, the Chinese government's decision to stop manufacturing 70% of the world's incandescent light bulbs will reduce the world's annual carbon emissions by even more, according to some environmentalists.
But it's the United States that is setting the standards for the world when it comes to environmental issues and Republicans in the White House and in the legislature appear ready to go along with the wishes of militant environmentalists.
So a government bureaucracy created in 1977 to deal with gasoline shortages and high prices at the pumps is becoming the "energy police" for our nation. And how is the DOE doing with the problem it was first created to solve? Well, a little over 33 years ago, 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports. Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports. Domestic oil production policy is dictated by environmental fanatics and political lightweights and enforcement by an agency that's out of control.
GASOLINE AND OIL
According to Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), members of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce pressed EPA bureaucrats about the reasons behind the lengthy permitting process. While opponents to extracting oil from Alaskan waters attempted to justify the delays with public health concerns, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has conceded that these drilling operations “will not cause air pollution that will endanger [public] health.”
The importance of Alaskan crude production to the West Coast and our overall energy independence, will reduce dependence on imports that have raised relative crude oil prices on the West Coast. Experts believe that without continued production in Alaska, the West Coast will grow more dependent on imports from OPEC.
Experts claim that permit delays at the EPA are preventing over 27 billion barrels of oil in Alaska’s offshore fields from reaching American consumers.
In addition, last Thursday the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), hosted the “American Energy Initiative” hearing. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) unveiled the initiative at a press conference alongside other top House Republicans including Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton (R-MI).
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Thursday’s hearing focused on oil supplies, gasoline prices, and oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico. Global events in Libya and the Middle East provided Americans with sharp reminder of the potential for an oil-supply disruption, underscoring our own nation’s energy vulnerabilities. As gasoline prices continue to rise, approaching $5.00 per gallon, the nation can no longer afford policies that lock away our domestic oil-and-gas resources and thwart job growth.
We must pursue a new American Energy Initiative to fortify our energy security and provide for high-paying American jobs, Boehner told his colleagues.
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