Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

America can’t overlook energy issues

without comments

George Allen, in the article below argues persuasively, with keen insight and strong evidence, against cap and trade legislation. I, too, am extremely leery of government intervention. I also do not believe that fear mongering on issues such as climate change is an effective lever to pull, and I am not convinced that cap and trade will be positive for the U.S. or the rest of the world.

I do, however, believe that we need to move in a different direction with energy than the trajectory we are currently following. The energy resources on which we base our economy, indeed, our very way of life, will be gone before the end of this century if we don’t change our energy system.

This is selfish, irresponsible behavior.

It’s true that Cap and Trade may not be the best way to achieve the necessary change, but a change is definitely necessary. This is not to say that we should not be using oil, natural gas, or even coal. We should use all of it. But we should plan in ways that will have us using it over the next 500 to 1000 years, rather than the current lack of planning, which will have it used in the next 50 to 100 years.

This kind of change cannot come from government. Government can help in the process, but it needs to be just that: help. As Mr. Allen explains, government cannot be a barrier to the kind of innovation and adaptation at which the free market is so astoundingly adept.

As citizens and consumers we have endless potential to direct this change. And the businesses that develop and deliver the technologies necessary for these changes will profit greatly from their efforts.

Mr. Allen points out that China and India may continue to use the cheapest technologies to produce the products we buy from them, and so placing restrictions on our own businesses will only tie our competitive hands. But if we as consumers refuse to pay such low prices, when they come with such high costs, we maintain our competitive advantage while protecting the health of necessary natural resources for generations to come.

This may seem overly idealistic. The methods for turning this idealism into reality are not so far fetched. In economic terms, it’s simply a matter of internalizing the externalities. That is,  those costs incurred in the course of business that are borne by uninterested third parties need to be paid by consumers and producers. If burning coal, oil, and other fuels makes people sick, as we know they have done, then the health care costs for those people need to be paid by the people who are purchasing and burning those fuels.

Does this seem overly complex? Then that’s just another indicator that we need to simplify our systems.

The United States, our people, our companies, and so many aspects of our diverse culture, have been admirable leaders in so many ways over the past century. Yes, we have also been abysmal, at times, in our treatment of our own people, other peoples, and natural resources, but, for better or for worse, we have consistently been world leaders.

If we wish to maintain the position of world leader, and I believe it is best for us and the rest of the world that we do, we will have to lead by example. The way that we and the rest of the world have used energy over the last century has transformed the world, for better and for worse. It is clear that this way cannot continue.

Let’s lead in a new direction.

By GEORGE ALLEN | 9/11/09 5:16 AM EST

Farmers work a corn field.

With all the consternation about government takeover of our health care decisions dominating the news, Americans must not overlook the issue with even more potential to negatively impact our lives: cap and trade.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

September 13th, 2009 at 9:07 am