A U.S. Energy Policy? Don't Plan on It


Refiners were fined approximately $6.5 million in 2011 for not blending enough cellulosic ethanol into gasoline. The only problem is that there is no cellulosic ethanol available. They are being fined for not using something that doesn’t exist.

The EPA then decided to raise the fine for 2012 if refiners continue not to blend a fuel that still doesn’t exist.

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Meanwhile, the Keystone Pipeline is in limbo, fracking regulations have not been ruled on by the EPA, and a Cuban oil rig is in our waters drilling for oil off our shores, yet we can’t drill there.

These are all symptoms of a much greater problem: we are only developed country in the world without an energy policy, and we haven’t had one for decades.

Energy falls into two different categories -- energy used for electricity and energy used for transportation.

Energy used for electricity generation can be done many different ways. Energy for transportation comes mainly from fossil fuels, and estimates of total reserves of natural gas to shale gas and oil is enormous, by some estimates hundreds of years of fuel use.

The left doesn’t want fossil fuels and the right says ‘drill, baby, drill’.  Neither has an energy plan deeper than their bumper sticker slogans.

The problem with not having a comprehensive plan is no one knows what fits where. A new source is developed and it’s just tacked on to energy produced.

New energy is being touted as a success of the current administration when in truth a politician taking credit for energy being created for any time in the last 30 years is like Fred Flinstone taking credit for the success of animation; they are just innocent bystanders and bit players.

We talk of a smart grid and DC lines to take renewable energy to far away markets, but a starting point is never developed. No plan to actually implement and nothing is ever done.

We have no plan, period. The pathetic excuse is that drilling won’t help us now, or renewables are not part of the present, and this is why we are in this mess. Our excuse for decades has been that doing something now won’t help us for 10 years or longer, so we never get started.

We need a couple of things. First, we need an audit of all our energy sources (something Mitt Romney has called for in his energy plan), and second we need to look at what we can realistically do by 2037, 25 years from now, and work our way backwards.

We don’t need to create a silly plan like we did in 2007 to have our refiners produce an energy source that was and is non-existent, or be fined.

For a new grid, there is not the political will to spend a trillion dollars as Al Gore suggests. (And to those on the right anything Gore endorses will automatically be a “no” - somewhere along the road Gore has been sprayed with human repellant.)

So we build the grid in bits and pieces as part of a “comprehensive” (and currently nonexistent strategy).

For electricity, an energy audit of true potentials will tell us how much wind, solar and traditional fuels should play a part.

For transportation fuel, the reason the Keystone Pipeline is being debated is because there is no comprehensive plan. If there was a plan then we would know how, or if, it fit into that plan. Now it just becomes a useless political football between two parties whose only concern is getting re-elected.

The EPA should understand what the plan is and should not be used politically. It should be asked to fast-track decisions on important matters, but no matters are important if there is no plan.

We are planning on a ‘black swan’ event to create jobs like the Internet did in the 1990s. The problem is no one can forecast a ‘black swan’ event. An energy plan creates millions of jobs and boosts the economy, we can prove that fact.

Ten years from now my fear is we will still be using the excuses we are using now, that “if we do something we won’t even realize the effects and relief for at least 10 years”.

So an energy plan is 10 years away, and might always be.

What do you think?

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