Just before we reported that retail gasoline in the U.S. reached an all-time high this year; (the national average is $3.63 for 2012) USA TODAY came out with an editorial (Nov. 23) discussing all the problems the nation's energy boom could bring.
The paper acknowledged we're in the midst of our most productive era, energy-wise; growing reserves from Texas to the Dakotas; a wealth of natural gas from the shale reserves of Pennsylvania down to W. Virginia; but they seemed upset about it.
The Dept. of Energy tells us "reserves of U.S. oil and natural gas in 2010 rose by the highest amounts ever recorded since EIA began publishing proved reserves estimates in 1977. For both oil and natural gas, these increases in proved reserves represent a growing role for domestically-produced hydrocarbons in meeting current and projected U.S. energy demands."
So why is USA TODAY so glum?
Isn’t energy a key to generating long-term economic growth? Isn’t this boom already creating thousands of jobs? Doesn’t it improve our nation’s security if our fuel needs are met by U.S. production and/or supplemented from North American suppliers rather than the Middle East?
If you need a moment to let that sink in, you’re not alone. Interestingly enough, the paper acknowledged that “by 2035 the U.S. could become virtually energy independent…” But in a tone that only ‘politically correct’ media embrace, the editorial found only the negatives an energy boom may bring.
“The increase in fossil fuel supplies also comes with potential serious environmental costs,” they warn.
Their hand-wringing continued: “Lower prices for oil and gas can undercut progress toward clean-energy sources such as wind and solar.”
There you have it; the obligatory ‘PC’ orthodoxy on energy that skates past the fact that the current administration’s glib “doubling down on green energy” has already imposed billions of dollars of additional debt on American taxpayers. That’s the debt we incurred after politically connected companies like Solyndra and about a dozen others were granted White House access, federally guaranteed loans, and then went bankrupt.
Hopefully the folks in charge will learn from the mistakes of the past four years and let the energy industry’s success take root with the ebb and flow of free markets; not politically contrived stimulants and subsidies that accelerate failure and create irreparable voids once they’re removed.
Hopefully too, media outlets like USA TODAY will recognize that the need for transparency and careful oversight of government loans is just as important as “the need for the careful oversight of fracking.” Both are essential.
One more thought... Perhaps one day an energy-independent USA can replace itself as OPEC's largest customer, and become our own biggest purchaser of energy instead. That should help greatly in keeping global crude oil prices in moderation.