Energy policy: too much oil and gas

The proposed U.S. energy bill fails to address the issues of peak oil and natural gas and commits us to an increased reliance on fossil fuels as reflected in the preponderance of funds being targeted at these resources.

Increasing our supplies of oil and natural gas from unconventional sources such as ultra-deep ocean waters, coal bed methane, deep-bed gas and tight sand gas will be costly, environmentally risky and involve the acceptance of ever higher rates of pollution when we are already suffering from poor air quality and rising asthma rates.

Such new energy sources are incremental additions to our national supplies and will not curtail our increased energy dependence. According to some estimates, if existing U.S. supplies were used exclusively, oil would be gone within three years and natural gas within eight years. A prolonged winter cold spell or a very hot summer could cause major price spikes and shortages. Bringing more natural gas from the Arctic or importing liquified natural gas will provide a few years of relief, but prices will rise to reflect the increasing costs of bringing those supplies to market.

We are only prolonging our dependence on fossil fuels and delaying an essential shift to an efficient renewable energy economy. We will also be spending increasingly scarce tax dollars consuming fossil fuels when we need to be investing more in renewable energy sources.

We Americans seem content consuming energy as if tomorrow were of no concern. We have an economy based on cheap oil and support the notion that we must control global oil supplies, especially in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, to perpetuate our existing lifestyle. We seem willing to have a permanent military presence in oil-rich regions until the oil runs out or proves too costly to secure.

As world oil supplies decline, global oil demand is increasing. The daily global consumption of 76 million barrels of oil per day is expected to increase 50 percent by 2020. By then, China’s demand will equal current U.S. demand. Rising demand and declining supplies suggest a dramatic increase in price.

In an article on energy management, Lloyd Weaver argues that the best energy policy to create jobs and increased energy independence would be to curtail our excessive reliance on imported oil and decrease our balance of payments deficit. Oil imports could be cut 50 percent, saving $1 trillion over 15 years. The savings could be used to provide cleaner, more efficient energy sources for transportation and electric power.

All vehicles that use federal roads would be required to increase energy efficiency. Old and new personal vehicles would be streamlined to lessen wind resistance that adds to fuel consumption. Trucks, trailers, buses and RVs would be designed to eliminate sharp corners, flat backs and the lack of wheel coverings.

Wherever possible, electric vehicles would replace internal combustion engines, and an electrically-powered elevated monorail train system would be integrated into the interstate highway system for both passenger and freight transportation.

To generate the needed electricity, a potentially debatable combination of coal, nuclear and renewable energy would be used.

Weaver’s approach attempts to correct a major flaw in the pending energy bill—increased reliance on decreasing amounts of costly oil and natural gas. As the world’s largest energy consumer, we remain the most vulnerable nation.

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