For as long as many of us can remember, the federal government has had a fragmented energy policy based largely on the parochial interests of individual congressmen rather than the best interests of the nation. We have experimented with many competing forms of renewable energy in the past 30 years, spending billions of dollars on research and development to make ethanol, biomass, wind, and solar market competitive, readily available to consumers, and a comparable substitute to traditional energy. The federal government has spent billions trying to convince Americans that they should power their homes and automobiles with alternative energy sources; all with little success. What we have learned is that the American people are content to use two main types of energy: nuclear and traditional fossil fuels.
This preference by the American people for more traditional and proven forms of energy should not be viewed as a negative. The fact is the United States is one of the most blessed countries in the world when it comes to its abundant natural resources. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has 267 billion tons of economically recoverable coal--currently the most reported in any country. To give some perspective: 267 billion tons of coal is the rough equivalent to 550 million barrels of oil. Saudi Arabia reserves are currently running at approximately 260 billion barrels of oil.
Despite containing record amounts of natural gas--both onshore and offshore--of any developed nation, the United States continues to import 60 percent of its oil from the Middle East. With myriad untapped resources here at home, it is absolutely unnecessary to maintain such strong dependence on other countries. In order to reflect the energy wealth and stability that our land currently holds, we must develop our national energy portfolio.
Even though I strongly support the continued development of fossil fuels, I would happily support the increased use of renewable, sustainable energies should they prove to be competitive technologies. For example, should consumers demand that new cars be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, I would embrace the manufacture of those cells by American companies. The government should leave innovation to the private sector and allow the free market to weed out the winners and losers.
Finally, I support initiatives that educate Americans on common-sense conservation measures that provide dual benefits of reusing energy and saving money. Conservation is an issue upon which all Americans should be able to agree; there are ways to conserve energy more and protect the Earth we have been blessed with. With that said, energy conservation initiatives should rest in the hands of individual Americans. The federal government should not dictate how much one conserves--the desire to conserve and reuse should begin with the consumer.