A Republican Discusses Energy

It seems earth-shattering that a Republican would discuss such a hot potato that ranks almost as high as healthcare among lesser-discussed GOP issues, but I’m going to try.

Now I won’t come out and say that I’m a “environmentalist Republican.” Besides, some would say that term is an oxymoron. However, I definitely believe there are reasonable solutions to the energy crisis that faces this country. With two major GOP oil figures heading up the executive branch of our country, I can see why many people have written off the Republican party as a source for answers to energy and the environment.

So let me take a chance to see if I can come up with some ideas that everyone can at least tolerate.

We are an oil-crazed culture. There’s no denying it. We use oil in everything from plastics to gasoline. Are we addicted? Maybe. But I’d rather use a different word: reliant.

Gas prices are higher than ever before (even though, when adjusted by inflation they are actually comparable to that of the 1970’s). The days of $1.00/gallon for gasoline seem to be over.  

We keep using petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource, and there’s a chance we’ll eventually run out of it altogether. I don’t know how soon that would be, but it could very well happen. To avoid that we need to switch to renewable alternative energy sources.

Now, I suggest a comprehensive strategy when it comes to energy. First, the government should encourage the development of ethanol from sugarcane and sugarbeets. The U.S. Government once paid farmers not to grow corn and now that we “need” it for ethanol and everything else corn is used for, corn is now inflated. So along with corn, we should also find other sources for ethanol.

We have to understand that oil is not necessarily the complete problem in and of itself, but we’re overly dependent on foreign sources. If we drill in ANWR and other places within U.S. Territory, we can make ourselves self-sufficient on oil. Of course we want to be completely free from oil someday, but we have to face the fact that it’s a long way down the road.

The government must work with automobile manufacturers and the oil companies to produce products that consume less gasoline. If somehow every auto manufacturer began producing hybrid versions of the cars they already have and reduce production of they gas guzzlers they currently make, demand for gasoline would decrease, thus decreasing the price of gas. If the government simply decides to legislate it’s way out of it and force oil companies to do things their way, the cost will be distributed to the average citizen, placing the burden on them. Encouragement is the key, not force.

Solar and wind energy must be improved and expanded as well. I wonder how far away “hybrid houses” are. They may already be here. If so, I’d be extremely interested.

So here’s our objectives: we have to avoid even higher gas prices, decrease foreign dependency, avoid higher taxes, and avoid more government control. How can we do that?

As I said before, private organizations need to be encouraged or coaxed into developing these alternative sources of energy, not forced. This can all be done in a reasonable, economical, and feasible manner by introducing major tax incentives and government grants. But going to extremes like the Democrats want, or maintaining the status quo like some Republicans want is not the answer.

Conservatives much actually embrace the term “conservative” when it comes to energy. We have to find ways to conserve the energy we have. It’s not unreasonable to turn the lights off when we aren’t using them and things like that. We need to be practical about energy. I know I’ll probably get slammed by hardcore environmentalists and oil-crazed conseratives alike, but I hope you will consider these suggestions with an open mind.

6 Responses to A Republican Discusses Energy

  1. ChenZhen says:

    Good post. I agree, too. It’s not like we’re marching towards socialism by asking people to turn off their lights, tvs, and computer when you’re not using them. Little stuff like that on a mass scale can make a big difference.

  2. mdvp says:

    Unfortunately, it won’t work. The amount of gasoline used to make ethanol is roughly the same as the amount of energy ethanol produces. Also, it’s been found to cause problems as well (health problems, I think).

  3. I think nuclear (or is it nucelar) power offers the best hope. That is, aside from the whole growing-a-third-eye-ball thing.

    Newt Gingrich had a good idea – have the government offer a $1 billion reward to the first person who develops the first mass-producable automobile that runs on alternative fuel.

    Oh, and drill in ANWR.

  4. jens says:

    Agreed. Corn ethanol is a terrible waste of time. Sugar ethanol might be better since the carbohydrates are higher, but in a temperate climate you don’t get the high return on energy investment that you would in Brazil where sugarcane can grow super fast.

    They are close to being able to mass produce cellulosic ethanol. I worked as an R&D scientist at a company doing cellulosic research and it is very close to being doable. That would give a huge improvement in energy return.

    As far as pollution from ethanol, it is 6 of one, half dozen of the other. It doesn’t have the particulates and ozone that gas exhaust does. It does create some nasty chemicals though, and still produces CO2 at a similar rate.

    Ethanol isn’t a panacea by any means.

    I am concerened about nuclear safety but there are some nuclear plant designs that seem much safer. I don’t remember what they are called at the moment. If we could be sure of waste storage for over a million years I’d be jumping at the chance. Unfortunately we have trouble planning for anything more than a decade in advance.

  5. Rod Williams says:

    If gas was priced higer, alternative fuels and conservation could compete. The market could sort out the best alternative or combination of alternatvies. changing light bulbs and properly inflating tires is not going to solve the problem. We need to account for the externality of global warming in the price sturcture. We need either a Carbon Tax or a system of cap and trade.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: