published Monday, August 27th, 2012

Gary Palmer: Access our energy reserves

By Gary Palmer

For the last three years, the federal government has been in mad pursuit of green energy alternatives to redefine our economy and improve job markets. In the process, billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on green energy companies that didn't produce reliable alternative energy resources, economic growth or new jobs.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued thousands of pages of regulations that threaten existing energy producers with catastrophic fines and industry-killing regulations that smother the U.S. economy and force energy prices higher. Among these are regulations that are shutting down on coal-fired power facilities because power companies cannot afford compliance costs.

The resulting loss of 26,000 megawatts of coal-based power could power 20-26 million homes.

As the EPA continues its crusade, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates that another 55,000 megawatts of coal-generated electricity will be shut down in the next six years. The loss of that much of our power grid combined with billions of dollars in new compliance costs will force American households to pay more for electricity at a time when the net worth of the average American household has declined by 40 percent since 2007.

Moreover, as a percentage of disposable income, energy costs hit lower-income households the hardest. In 2001, households earning below $50,000 annually were allocating 12 percent of disposable income to pay for energy. In 2011, households in that same income range spent 20 percent. Households with annual incomes between $10,000 and $30,000 spent 23 percent of their disposable income just to pay their energy bills, creating a significant burden for low-income elderly, black, and Hispanic households who are disproportionately in this income bracket.

In 2009, there were 25.3 million senior citizen households with median earnings of $31,354. Expanding access to America's abundant reserves of oil, natural gas and coal would be of significant help to elderly Americans with fixed incomes. In many respects, it would be equivalent to an increase in Social Security benefits.

The United States has billions of barrels of recoverable oil that could jump start our economy, virtually eliminate our need to buy oil from hostile nations and reduce the cost of energy for all American households and businesses. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, there are 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming with the richest deposits located in areas owned by the federal government.

The latest estimates from the federal government indicate proven reserves of over 280 trillion cubic feet of natural gas which is enough to meet the needs of the United States for 90 years. And U.S. coal reserves that are recoverable with current mining technology are sufficient to meet our needs for 249 years. When it comes to energy resources -- oil, natural gas, and coal -- the U.S. is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. The royalties from the federally-owned energy reserves would be in the trillions of dollars.

In other words, we are not broke, we are stupid.

Accessing federally-owned energy reserves must be a major part of our economic recovery plan. This will provide energy security not seen in decades as well as decrease energy costs for Americans who have seen their energy costs double over the last decade.

By allowing access to these reserves, the United States could become an energy exporter to major energy consumers like China and India. Over time, royalties would be in the trillions, some of which could be used to help ensure the viability of Social Security and Medicare.

New extraction technologies for recoverable energy resources will provide the opportunity to go from dependence on foreign energy to energy independence. Accessing these rich resources will be good for our national security and our economy and for elderly and low-income families whose disposable income is being depleted by high energy costs.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families.

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stevedj_98 said...

Gary: Just a response to your comment that "billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on green energy companies that didn't produce reliable alternative energy resources, economic growth or new jobs." That's your opinion. My opinion is we need to spend MORE on alternative energy. I drive a 100% electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF, to be manufactured by year's end in Smyrna, TN by 1,300 newly hired workers. By the way I love my LEAF--best car I have ever owned. Speaking in June, TN Republican Senator, Lamar Alexander explained why he voted against ending EPA regulations for the coal industry. "We have 546 coal miners in Tennessee, and every one of their jobs is important. We also have 1,200 men and women that work at the Alstom Corporation in Chattanooga and Knoxville, who make the pollution control equipment that will go on coal-fired power plants across America to implement this rule." I power my LEAF with my own solar produced electricity. I have a 4.9 kw system on the roof of my home. Shine, baby, shine. A recent report by the Tennessee Solar Institute stated there are 174 for-profit (100 of which are small business) and 62 nonprofit entities involved in solar in Tennessee. That doesn't include the hundreds of new jobs coming up in the Walker Chemie plant in Charleston and the Hemlock plant in Clarksville. I could go on, but I've made my point. I see that Exxon/Mobil made $16 billion in the 2nd quarter of 2012. That's $104 million a day. Perhaps they could help out the poor and seniors with a "buy one, get one free sale" on a gallon of gasoline once in awhile. Something to show their appreciation to those they've addicted to oil.

August 27, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.
LibDem said...

Thanks for the comments, stevedj_98. "...dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families." No mention of preserving our air and water resources.

August 27, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
conservative said...

The writer obviously avoided being partisan by not mentioning the billions of taxpayer dollars Owebama funneled to such failed "green", as in dollars, companies, such as Solyndra in exchange for campaign contributions.

However, I don't mind reminding voters of the money laundering scheme by Owebama at all.

August 27, 2012 at 6:07 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"A non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families?"

That organization sounds about as "non-partisan" as the KKK or the NRA!

August 28, 2012 at 8:57 a.m.
fairmon said...

steve_dj78 Your leaf auto, solar panels etc. are not offordable by those referenced in the article as hurt most by high energy prices. It is a good thing you have your own electrical charging system which everyone would need if we all bought a leaf since the grid could not handle the increased load.

August 29, 2012 at 3:20 a.m.
stevedj_98 said...

I have snappy comebacks for all of the negative comments and myths posted here. So I want to invite everyone to "National Plug In Day--Chattanooga" on September 23 at the 5-bay solar charging station at Greenlife Grocery starting at 1:30 pm. EV car owners and dealers will be available to answer your questions and offer rides and drives of the cars you've been wondering about.

August 29, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
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