11.08.2010 2

Wind, Solar and Drilling: The Face of Energy Policy is About to Change

By Rebekah Rast –

From the right you hear “Drill, baby, drill.” From the left you hear, “Go Green.”

These mantras couldn’t be more opposite. Now, with Republicans taking the majority in the House, Democrats retaining the Senate and President very outspoken about energy policies, finding a compromise on energy legislation should prove interesting.

Energy is inevitably going to be a hot topic. If nothing is accomplished during the lame-duck session, then starting in January the energy debate is sure to heat up.

It is already known where Obama stands on this issue. With taxpayer stimulus money subsidizing renewable energies and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposing outrageous restrictions and rules on the current energy sector, his stance is pretty clear. And much of it doesn’t fit into the Republican agenda.

Republicans would like to see more drilling exploration off America’s shores and more uranium mining for nuclear energy and less government involvement in the free-market system with regards to renewable energies.

It is well-known that both Republicans and Democrats have at times faltered on their energy agendas in the past leading to disappointment within their own parties and for the American people. Leading to the question of what can we expect from the Republicans in the House this time?

Much can be derived from looking at past mistakes Republicans have made in this area, hoping they have learned from their mistakes, as well as looking at the new Chairmen taking over the House’s energy committees.

“As energy takes the stage, Republicans need to remember why they are in the majority,” says Americans for Limited Government’s President Bill Wilson. “It’s not because of their past energy agendas; it is so they can bring the right kind of energy policies to America that will limit government involvement in the sector — something they haven’t always done in the past.”

It is important to note that both Republicans and Democrats have been partial to government-funded subsidies for the energy sector. Though the Democrats prefer to subsidize renewable energies and the Republicans tend to support nuclear energy and natural gas production through similar tax credits and subsidies, it’s all the same, and it’s not good for America’s free market system.

Because Obama lost control of the government’s purse strings — the House — he might be more inclined to try to push making natural gas, oil and coal more expensive and more difficult to produce in America rather than a hefty cap-and-trade bill. The EPA has already had a big hand in this with its expanding regulations on dust; ozone; conductivity of water in Appalachia, which would essentially put a stop to coal mining in the U.S.; industrial boilers; and water-cooling intakes.

Though Republicans would do well to stand against all of this, including putting a stop to the EPA’s egregious actions, they haven’t always in the past.

The 2004 Republican platform largely supported President George W. Bush’s strong backing of using ethanol as fuel. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Republican’s changed their stance, touting that the government should end its ethanol mandate and let the free market work.

Let’s hope this current Republican platform sticks for these next two years.

Another key component as to what Republicans will support or oppose in the ways of energy policies can be derived from looking at the encouraged policies of the possible Committee Chairmen for the House Committees on Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce.

The probable Chairman for the House Committee on Natural Resources is Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA). According to his website, Rep. Hastings supports an “All-Of-The-Above” Energy Plan, which consists of:

• Promotes alternative energy sources like wind and solar.
• Expands non-emitting nuclear power- and moves Yucca Mountain forward.
• Protects clean, renewable hydropower dams from those who are trying to tear them out.
• Drills offshore, in Alaska and on federal lands.

Tom Pyle, President of the Institute of Energy Research (IER), in post-election release expressed concern with an “All-Of-The-Above” approach to energy because, “With this new political landscape, President Obama will try to advance his energy agenda in piecemeal fashion. Some Republicans will be tempted to go along with the President to support misguided notions of their ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy. While ‘all-of-the-above’ makes for a good rhetorical device, it is deeply flawed as an actual policy since it seeks to increase federal involvement in all types of energy production.”

In his defense, Rep. Hastings has a strong record of encouraging energy production and exploration in America and even on its protected federal lands.

One contender of the Chairman for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is current ranking member Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). Though Rep. Barton faces the hurdle of term limits set by the GOP, he has asked for a waiver in order to serve as Chairman of the committee.

In his letter asking for support to become Chairman, he wrote, “Over the past four years, as Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, I have led the charge against radical cap-and-trade legislation, fought the new entitlements and mandates that are the rotten core of President Obama’s health care law, and consistently applied free market principles to legislative decisions.”

If Rep. Barton does not make the cut, the next favored Chairman of the committee is Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), states a committee press release. Rep. Upton is the current chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and also supports the “All-Of-The-Above” American Energy Act (H.R. 2846).

All of these ranking members, presumably soon to become Chairmen of these committees, know the nation’s energy problems and have some good ideas as to how to fix them.

The new House of Representatives is tasked with finding solutions and compromises to America’s energy needs while remaining true to its pledges to the American people. As proved Nov. 2, the American people’s patience is running thin.

The Republicans have the power to do things right and create a sustainable, cost-effective and efficient energy plan for America. If they don’t, their majority in the House might be short-lived.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to the Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

Copyright © 2008-2021 Americans for Limited Government