Forget energy independence. Here's a plan for energy security.
The US can bring energy prices down by boosting domestic supply.
After gaining control of Congress in 2006, Democratic leaders laid out goals: Achieve energy independence, strengthen national security, grow the economy and create jobs, lower energy prices, and begin to address global warming.
The energy legislation now pending in Congress – which raises taxes on the oil industry, repeals incentives designed to increase domestic oil and natural-gas production,and mandates increased use of "renewable" energy sources (e.g., wind, solar, and biofuels) – will almost certainly achieve none of these objectives. Indeed, it will make things worse, especially with regard to energy security.
Energy security should not be confused with "energy independence." The latter is a chimera, especially in this age of global interdependence. It is the mantra of those who stress "renewable" sources of energy.
But for technological and economic reasons, such alternatives are far too expensive and unreliable to compete on the market with oil and gas. That's why they must be subsidized.
Advocates of energy independence would repeat the mistakes of the 1970s and early '80s, when the government tried to micromanage the energy market and pick winners and losers. The results were dismal then, and the outcome would probably be no different today. Apparently, Congress has not learned a basic lesson of economics: If something needs a subsidy to compete, it's not ready.
While energy independence is a pipe dream, energy security, which focuses on increasing the supply of energy by exploiting all available sources, is achievable. For instance, rather than discouraging the production of domestic oil and natural gas, proponents of energy security suggest expanding access to nonpark federal lands in the West and Alaska and under coastal waters. These areas hold enough natural gas to meet the needs of the 60 million American homes fueled by natural gas for more than a century – and enough oil to produce gasoline for 60 million cars and fuel oil for 25 million homes for 60 years.
To achieve energy security, America must reverse its rejection of nuclear power. This source of energy is both efficient and safe. Key indicators of nuclear-plant performance – such as unplanned reactor shutdowns and radiation exposure – have shown high levels of safety at US nuclear power plants in the past decade.