By Fred Couzens
Rep. Joe Heck spoke before the Nevada Energy Forum, Aug. 9, advocating an approach to energy that involves fossil fuels, alternative energy and nuclear power.
Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), who spoke before the Nevada Energy Forum at the M Resort on Aug. 9, says the country should embrace more strongly a balanced approach to meeting its energy needs as a way of reducing America's insatiable thirst for foreign oil.
The freshman congressman's remarks may have been new for Nevadans, but they are nothing new around Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where that statement has gained additional traction among members of Congress in recent months.
Despite all the congressional flag-waving for a more equitable use of energy resources, little has been accomplished so far to achieve the elusive balanced approach being called for by politicians.
"To date, we've seen little progress in attaining that goal, which would help reduce our dependence on other people's oil," Heck said. "If we are ever going to achieve independence in this area, we need a fundamental reassessment of our goals."
He said his idea of a balanced approach involves three areas: fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas; alternative energy, such as solar wind, geothermal and biomass; and nuclear energy.
"Fossil fuels will remain our top use," Heck says. "Oil is still the No. 1 fuel, because its domestic use is more than we produce."
The congressman predicted the world's supply of oil made available to the United States will be diminishing because of the surge in demand in other parts of the world, principally China and India. Another issue affecting the supply of fuels is that the nation's transportation industry relies so heavily upon it.
"The idea of reducing imports is doomed to fail," Heck said. "That's why we need to go back to a balanced approach."
To attain that, he says the United States needs to expand exploration efforts, but that environmental concerns are hindering exploration.
"We have at least 250 years worth--234 million tons--of coal," he says. "Coal has not received as much emphasis because of environmental issues related to its mining and its use."
Although Heck stops short of condemning the Environmental Protection Agency for its proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a growing legion of both Republicans and Democrats has criticized the EPA for assuming the role of "emissions police," since, in the politician's estimation, that should be the job of Congress.
Heck agrees with what others have said in recent years about renewable energy sources in Nevada being able to make the Silver State a pre-eminent leader in the production of alternative power.
"There are 31 geothermal power plants in Nevada, making it the second-largest state in terms of geothermal capacity in the United States," the congressman says. "As a country, Nevada is the ninth largest producer in the world."
Heck mentions, but not in much detail, that hydroelectric power generation and solar energy are important to Nevada, but that there are certain problematic issues associated with them, more so than solar energy.
He says Nevada needs to capture more manufacturing and research and development as it relates to renewable energy.
Talking about nuclear energy, Heck says it is an area what has had the most debate because of its potential and drawbacks, but Americans should support the prudent development of nuclear energy.
Despite all the attention to the nation's power demands, Heck says the United States is still behind the energy curve.
"On the supply side, we've only had partial success," the congressman says. "But on the demand side, we've had increased efficiency and conservation."