It’s time for a fresh look at U.S. energy and environmental policy. An agenda that maximizes the potential of America’s natural resources while striking a better balance between industry and environmental protection could unleash substantial economic growth and job creation at no cost to taxpayers. Here are four steps that Congress and the new Trump administration can take.
Nuclear power consumption actually declined between 2008 and 2015. (It grew during the Bush administration.) Wind and solar power consumption increased by only 1.6 quadrillion BTUs, or less than 2 percent of the total American energy mix. (Its growth rate was higher during the Bush administration, albeit from a much lower base.) Natural gas consumption, meanwhile, increased by 4.5 quadrillion BTUs--three times the increase for nuclear, wind, and solar combined. All told, natural gas has reduced carbon-dioxide emissions ten times faster than solar power has.
If the question is what resources will America and the world need ten, twenty, or thirty years from now, the answer is that no one knows. But if the question is what course to pursue, we do know: innovation and exploration have always benefited the nation and in hindsight we are always glad they occurred. The moment when new supply seems least critical is no less a moment when future investment should be invited.
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have fallen significantly since their peak in 2007--more than in any other country. The biggest cause is America's fracking-led natural gas boom: solar power is responsible for 1 percent of the decline in U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions; natural gas is responsible for nearly 20 percent.
In his August 2008 energy speech, then-candidate Barack Obama mocked offshore drilling as the solution to America's challenges. 'George Bush's own Energy Department has said that if we opened up new areas to drilling today, we wouldn't see a single drop of oil for seven years,' he said, repeating 'seven years' for emphasis. Amazing how quickly 'seven years' becomes 'next month.'
Improving America's energy regulatory environment will amplify today's boom by encouraging resources to be used more efficiently. Opening federal land and waters to development over the next decade will extend the boom. Together, such reforms will further the country's energy advantage and make it an enduring fixture of U.S. prosperity.