On Energy, a Home Run from House Republicans

The American Energy Act is the kind of all-encompassing solution America has been waiting for

Between yesterday’s news conference and today’s op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, the next few news cycles should be devoted to The American Energy Act, an “all of the above solution for energy independence” put forth by House Republicans. Of course, the same mainstream press which only seems to characterize the GOP as obstructionist will likely have nothing to do with the legislation. But that’s neither here nor there.

The real story should be a pro-growth Republican alternative to a Democratic Party-driven energy policy which has taken a leading role in the left’s ongoing War on Success and Prosperity. Where the Democrats’ policy, with its foundation in Henry Waxman and Ed Markey’s cap-and-trade legislation, will drive American jobs overseas as business and industry move to escape an exponentially increased tax and regulatory burden, the American Energy Act will create hundreds of thousands of American jobs, through a focus on building new nuclear and oil drilling facilities from coast to coast, and off the coast as well.

From what I’ve learned, this legislation is exactly what we’ve been yammering on about here at America’s Right since, well, its inception. It truly is an all-of-the-above approach, and should be promoted as just that.

First, it starts with nuclear power. This GOP proposal sets an ambitious but job-rich national goal to construct and bring online 100 new nuclear reactors over the next two decades. Currently, as House Republicans have pointed out in recent days, America is home to 104 nuclear reactors, which provide this nation with 20 percent of its electricity and 73 percent of its carbon-emission-free electricity . . . yet not a single new reactor has been ordered since 1978.

A little perspective — I was born in October of 1978. I now have a three-year-old daughter and, given the flesh yarmulke on my head, it looks like I’m facing the onset of male pattern baldness. From 1978 to now is a long, long time to forcibly stifle clean and effective means of providing energy and energy independence to this nation.

Also in terms of nuclear energy, the American Energy Act would streamline a regulatory process riddled with red tape, and solve in an apolitical manner the issue of what to do with spent nuclear fuel.

In the Journal commentary, Reps. Mike Pence, John Shumkus and Fred Upton argue that, rather than saddle utility companies with cap-and-trade legislation that even the president admits will “necessarily skyrocket” energy costs for all Americans in the name of reducing carbon emissions, “[t]he cleanest way for utilities to control CO2 emissions is to increase the supply of carbon-free nuclear energy. This is obvious and simple, but in the thousand-page Waxman-Markey bill nuclear power is hardly mentioned.” I agree, and I have been disheartened recently by seeing President Obama encouraging the expansion of a peaceable nuclear energy program in Iran while supporting a nuclear-free energy program here at home. Last week, I called it an “affront to American exceptionalism”; no matter how you look at it, however, handcuffing America in this way does good for no one.

Second, the American Energy Act allows for the development of our nation’s vast oil and natural gas resources. Besides even the oil fields found off our coasts or in the Alaskan northern plain, the United States of America sits on staggeringly large natural gas deposits, and an obscene amount of oil which could be extracted from oil shale. Tapping into these resources as the House Republicans suggest would create thousands upon thousands of jobs–I’ve reported here before that the development of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is estimated to need anywhere between 250,000 and 750,000 new jobs–and could drive America toward true energy independence.

Also, leasing these oil and gas fields in an environmentally sound fashion, Republicans argue, would generate much-needed money for a newly created Renewable and Alternative Energy Trust Fund, which in turn would be used to further develop and promote alternative technologies such as wind, solar, clean coal, hydroelectric, geothermal and more. Furthermore, in terms of alternative fuels, the American Energy Act would repeal prohibitions on government acquisition of fuels from oil shale, tar sands and coal-to-liquid technologies. Tax credits would also be made permanent for the production and use of renewable and alternative energy.

Another aspect of the GOP legislation I particularly like is a free market approach to fostering American ingenuity. Much like how the X Prize Foundation fostered a private space race, the American Energy Act would similarly promote and provide cash prizes in order to facilitate the expansion of research and development of new technologies and new energy sources. One example would be a $500 million prize to be awarded to the first American automaker to sell 50,000 ecomically feasible vehicles which reach 100 miles per gallon.

Simply put, this is the alternative that America has been waiting for. The key to the long-term prosperity and growth of this nation is energy independence. Currently, we are beholden to nations and regimes which do not have American interests at heart, and the policy being promoted by the Democrats would only keep us that way while simultaneously destroying the American economy in the process.

Over and over again, we hear from our counterparts on the left that we have no energy policy, yet time and time again they have fought against nuclear power and oil and natural gas exploration. Over and over again, we hear from our counterparts on the left that we are indifferent toward the American working class, yet the very measures we promote would create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans who need them. Over and over again, we hear from our counterparts on the left empty words and empty promises about energy independence — let’s do something about it.

When the talk turned to oil exploration during the last presidential election, Democrats fought tooth and nail against it with every excuse in the book. They highlighted environmental concerns about oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, only to be shown that such platforms are havens for fish and aquatic wildlife, and that even through hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the integrity of the facilities were not breached. They argued that steps toward exploration taken today would have little effect on prices for ten years to come, yet when told it could happen beforehand, when reminded that oil and gas prices in the summer of 2008 only began to decrease after George W. Bush repealed the ban on offshore drilling and showed commitment to exploration, and when asked why we shouldn’t begin now in order to hasten those effects down the road, the Democrats remained quiet.

From an environmental standpoint, the GOP’s American Energy Act makes sense due to its emphasis on clean energy and conservation. From an economic standpoint, it makes sense because of the job growth and expansion of American industry. From a national security standpoint, increased energy independence will only make us safer. And from a political standpoint, the energy debate encompasses both of the Democrats’ chief weaknesses, the economy and national security, and for that reason alone it should be a jumping-off point for distinguishing between the parties in the lead-up to the 2010 mid-term election.

The American people, after all, do not want and cannot afford the increased costs associated with the Democrats’ energy plan. They want energy independence. They want job growth. They want national security and environmental responsibility. The House Republicans have absolutely, unequivocally hit the ball out of the park with this piece of legislation, and it is high time any and all concerned Americans begin shouting its merits to any and all who will listen.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting to note that CO2 is PLANT FOOD! Recent research has found that CO2 emissions are quite a bit lower than the levels that actually achieve optimal plant growth! This whole co2 emissions thing is a complete hoax! CO2 is NOT a "toxin"!

    Lisa in TX

  2. Claudia says:

    Jeff,
    your analysis and thoughtful breakdown of this plan is almost spot on to what Gingrich has promoted and exactly what I have touted to everyone I can ever speak to about this subject…but you are the first one to actually come out with such a succinct breakdown about it, other than a few mainstream GOPers who have spent many hours studying this sort of proposal…. thank you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,

    With all due respect, I too wish that nuclear energy could take the place that was once envisioned for it. But few if any new reactors will be built in this country, and not because the government is for them or against them — BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GET FINANCING. When ALL its costs are considered, nuclear is the most expensive form of energy.

    I've known Amory Lovins for decades and consider him the most intelligent and informed physicist currently working on energy issues, in this or probably any country. He's been writing on efficient energy production since the early '70s, he's a Ph.D. several times over, and two of the biggest supporters of his ideas on energy conservation are Wal-Mart and the US Department of Defense — which should tell you something. Read this:

    http://rmi.org/sitepages/pid601.php

    and don't just nod (or shake) your head, get out a pencil and scratch paper and FOLLOW THE MATH. These numbers are correct, and they thoroughly explain why new nuclear construction isn't part of the solution.

    graypanther

  4. Anonymous says:

    I'm all for the allowance of off shore drilling, so long as those coastal states get a fair percentage of the profits.

  5. sbowers3 says:

    Old-style nuclear plants are indeed expensive. New "Generation III" plants can be mass-produced in factories then shipped to the site at much lower costs than the old plants which are built on site.

    One such new-style plant is Babcox and Wilcox's "mPower" plant that was announced at a recent press conference with Republican Senators.

  6. Uncle Rick says:

    @Anonymous

    Meaning no offense, but Amory Lovins makes a persuasive case by using only partial data, obscuring pertinent facts and mis-representing others.

    When considering the entire power cycle (mining, transportation, refining, generating, etc.), nuclear power, in and of itself, has proved to be economical, clean and clearly the safest source of electricity. The cost only goes up when every hand-wringing 'green' organization files worthless lawsuits against the utility. France doesn't have this problem because they had the good sense to limit such litigation.

    In the 1980s Mario Cuomo managed to shut down the Shoreham nuclear power plant after it had already been certified and was ready to go online. Its costs had already skyrocketed, largely due to excessive regulation and lawsuits, but how much sense did it make to sell it for $1 (count 'em: one dollar) before it could generate one watt-hour and begin paying back investors?

    What makes nuclear power expensive here is ignorance. Too meany people have been frightened of something they don't understand. Nuclear power's opponents never fail to use this ignorance and turn it into fear.

    And fear is expensive.

  7. Let us move forward says:

    The new nuclear plant designs include plants that include fail safe features. One is that the fuel will expand to prevent a critical mass from forming, even if all control rods are removed. A critical mass is necessary for a nuclear explosion. I believe that all the control rods were removed in the infamous Chernobyl event.

  8. COMMON SENSE v GEOGRAPHY says:

    I don't care if Sarah thinks HAWAII is a continent, just DRILL DAMN IT.

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