- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 31, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

For decades, our presidents, Congress and unelected bureaucrats have passed legislation and regulations that have restricted access to our own resources, resulting in increased reliance upon foreign fuels to meet the energy needs of U.S. consumers and enterprise. We can achieve strategic American energy independence and create more jobs and prosperity if we intelligently use our coal, oil and natural gas resources, which are 85 percent of the energy that fuels our economy.

We need policies that encourage private investment, foster job creation, spur innovation and provide American consumers access to the vast, proven, affordable energy supplies under our land and water. These enormous taxpayer-owned resources, and the American jobs they would create, have been held hostage by almost 40 years of government policies saying, “No, we can’t.”

Informed Americans believe “Yes, we can!” We can achieve American energy freedom.

American energy policy finds itself at a crossroads. Either we will choose a future of abundant, affordable and reliable sources of American energy, or we can continue down the road of expensive, imported and highly regulated energy.

For a brighter energy future, we must stop five bad ideas and, initially, promote five positive, achievable goals for America.

c Specifically, for our American energy freedom, we must first play tenacious defense against harmful, costly and counterproductive burdens on America.

c Americans must oppose carbon and energy taxes, including “cap-and-trade” schemes established in some states and under debate in Congress. A federal cap-and-trade energy program would impose an additional $260 monthly burden on families with higher costs for electricity, clothes, food and fuel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said she would not allow European Union climate regulations that “would endanger jobs or investments in Germany.” Our government must follow suit and vow to defend American jobs against the transfer of wealth from America for costly U.N. climate regulations.

c Halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to regulate carbon dioxide using the Clean Air Act. That law was designed to regulate regional air pollutants, not global concentrations of carbon dioxide. Regulating carbon dioxide under this law is simply an attack on our large and abundant coal, natural gas and oil reserves. Consumers should demand that the federal government apply a cost-benefit analysis to any EPA proposal that attempts to address global temperatures.

c Oppose the attacks on America’s largest energy source: coal. America gets 48 percent of its electricity from coal. Unlike wind and solar power, American coal is reliable, affordable and proven. Intermittent wind and solar cannot power our high-tech society’s “always-on, ready-to- go” demand for base-load electricity needs.

c Oppose unrealistic biofuel mandates that drive up the cost of our food and feed. Cellulosic ethanol may be a fuel of the future, but corn ethanol is jacking up the cost of food on our kitchen tables.

We must positively pursue the following five constructive reforms in federal energy policy:

c Embrace common-sense conservation and operational practices, teleworking, and more efficient equipment and building designs to save money and waste less energy. There are many practical innovations that reduce the energy needed to propel vehicles and heat, cool and illuminate government buildings as well as to better use water for landscaping.

c We should support clean coal technology for generating affordable electricity while providing jobs for Americans. By every measure - cost, availability, job creation and reliability - coal is by far the best energy source for base-load electricity to fuel our economy.

c Enhance and develop the proven technology of coal-to-liquid fuels or coal synfuels. The Air Force successfully flight-tested coal-based jet fuel in bombers and fighter jets. Coal synfuel is a “drop-in” fuel that does not require engine modifications. South Africa and China have been moving forward with this clean, proven technology for coal synfuels; so should America. Under Gov. Mitch Daniel’s leadership, Indiana is pursuing new coal-to-gas technology to diversify the state’s energy portfolio for electricity.

c Empower coastal states to take initiatives to safely explore the energy resources off their shores.Provide those willing states with 50 percent of revenue from offshore and onshore energy leasing. America is a much preferable source for natural gas than an unpredictable dependency on the foreign liquefied natural gas cartel.

c And we should remove outdated regulatory barriers to building the next generation of nuclear power plants. The federal government should allow nuclear fuel reprocessing, recycling, Pebble Bed Modular Reactors and other safe production of nuclear power.

If America adopted these positive reforms and innovations, we would unleash our creativity for American jobs, competitiveness, national security and American energy freedom!

George Allen is a former U.S. senator and was governor of Virginia in 1994 to 2000.

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