The need for a comprehensive energy policy
Column by Bob Goodlatte
Energy is vital to every sector of the U.S. economy, including homes, small businesses and industries. Energy powers computers, appliances, technology and the Internet and fuels transportation and farming processes. When energy supplies are tight, families and businesses are severely impacted by the resulting increase in energy costs.
Many in Congress, including myself, have voiced the need for a new energy policy for our country. Unfortunately, the energy policy set forth by the Democrats in recent legislation would do nothing to make us energy-independent or lower energy costs. In fact the energy policy set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act, increases energy costs and makes America more dependent on foreign oil.
This legislation imposes $21 billion in tax increases and many new government mandates. Some say these tax increases will not affect the average American, only oil companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Theses taxes will impede new domestic oil and gas production, will discourage investment in new refinery capacity, and will make it more expensive for domestic energy companies to operate in the U.S. than their foreign competitors, making the price at the pump rise even higher while the U.S. becomes more dependent on foreign sources.
What is even more disturbing is that these increased costs will be felt by some of our nations most disadvantaged. On average, the nation’s working poor spend approximately 13 to 30 percent of their yearly income on energy costs. This average is already too high, and sadly this legislation will only dramatically increase the amount of money these workers will have to spend on their energy costs.
Additionally, this legislation fails to address some of our most promising domestic alternative and renewable energy supplies that could be cost effective for American consumers. Coal is one of our nation’s most abundant resources, yet the development of clean coal technologies, such as Coal-to-Liquid, is completely ignored in this bill. Furthermore, this legislation does nothing to encourage the construction of new nuclear facilities, which provide energy without greenhouse gas emissions. Other countries are far outpacing the U.S. in their commitment to clean nuclear energy. We generate only 20 percent of our energy from this source, while France generates more than 70 percent of its electricity needs through nuclear power. Nuclear energy is one of the most reliable energy sources, and if we are serious about encouraging CO2-free energy use, we must pursue nuclear energy.
The need for a comprehensive energy bill has never been more apparent, and I hope that we in Congress can develop legislation that fully confronts the challenges facing our nation but the Energy Independence and Security Act is not the answer. We need a comprehensive energy policy based on exploration, innovation, and conservation so we can grow our economy, create quality jobs, and make America stronger.
Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the United States Congress. Contact him at www.house.gov/goodlatte/emailbob.htm.