From gas prices to home electricity bills, Americans are more concerned about energy than ever before. In November 2007, a Gallup poll concluded that energy was the No. 4 top concern for the American public. Today, it is No. 1.
But what can be done to bring down energy prices and soothe Americans' pain at the pump? The answer is one you've heard before, but it's no less true today than it was the first time you heard it - increase our domestic energy supply.
We are moving nowhere fast by putting our heads in the sand and asking renewable energy sources to replace the fossil fuels that have powered this planet for nearly two centuries. Many Americans want the U.S. to stop buying oil from foreign countries, but too many politicians are unwilling to take the steps necessary to do so. Instead, these politicians mistakenly believe that renewable energy will be our silver bullet.
While it's great politics to support wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, it's terrible policy. Combined, these four renewable energy sources only produce 2 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States. Fossil fuels, however, produce 71 percent of U.S. electricity, and nuclear power makes up an additional 20 percent. We simply cannot replace our fossil fuel use with renewable energy.
Given that many in Washington are still uneasy about expanding nuclear energy, and renewable energy is incapable of providing enough energy for the country to flourish, the only answer to our energy crisis is to produce more domestic fossil fuel. We must open the Outer Continental Shelf, the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, tar sands and oil shale in the Western U.S., and much more. We must make it easier for American companies to employ American workers making American energy.
Floridians oppose drilling 125 miles off shore for fear of a spill harming their beaches. However, China is drilling 50 miles from Key West on behalf of Cuba, which will then sell the oil to China. Why do we want them to have oil we could have?
We place hope for the future in corn-based ethanol. It takes one-third of a gallon of fossil fuel and 1,700 gallons of fresh water to create one gallon of ethanol. And we subsidize it to the tune of 51 cents per gallon. We protect if from foreign competition with a 54-cent per gallon tariff on imports. None of this makes economic sense, but it does increase the cost of food across the world.
We are envious of Saudi Arabia's 235 billion barrels of proven reserves, but when including oil shale, offshore and ANWR drilling, we sit on approximately 2 trillion barrels of proven reserves. On top of that, we have more than 1.1 quadrillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas in the U.S. In fact, some scientists believe that by utilizing advanced technologies to access methane gas deep in the Earth, we have a natural gas supply that could last more than 2,000 years.
Why are we not energy independent? Because radical environmentalists say no.
Of course conservation should be a priority, as decreasing demand will also help to lower prices. But it is simply folly to suggest that conservation and renewables will solve our problems.
Domestic energy exploration and development does not have to harm the environment. In fact, the Canadians have been drilling for oil and natural gas off the eastern coast of Canada for many years without any environmental incidents. In the midst of two of the most destructive hurricanes in modern times, Katrina and Rita, not one drop of oil being produced off the Gulf Coast was spilled as a result of the hurricanes.
I was in Saudi Arabia recently. They have oil wells within 150 miles of their capital city. You would never notice it. We can do the same in Alaska. In fact, they wondered why we didn't. One of the members on the trip is from West Virginia. In response, he said we do not want to spoil that pristine place. This from a representative of a state that has cut the tops off mountains to get coal.
The United States is an amazing country. Not only do we have an abundance of energy, but we have imaginative and intelligent citizens who are willing and able to put all our resources to use. We became a world power by having the courage and foresight to use our resources to their fullest advantage. Surely we can harness those forces to do it again.