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.