The 'Energy' of a Second Term
by Anthony Stasi
Nov 20, 2012 | 12637 views | 0 0 comments | 482 482 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago, once said.

Politically, you can understand that, but that does not always mean that policies are wise when they follow a tragedy because they can be rooted in emotion. The timing of introducing a carbon tax when the country is on the verge of a fiscal crisis is a good example of this kind of politics. Make no mistake about it, a carbon tax will be unpopular.

I was asked when interviewed on QPTV what I thought about Barack Obama’s energy policy. It was an election night interview that, to nobody’s surprise, centered almost entirely on the president. My answer was to give credit to the president for supporting green energy initiatives, even though some of them were total busts.

New energy, or alternative energy, needs a shot in the arm before it can live on its own. Oil had help when it emerged because there was no real competition. Therefore, biodiesel, wind, and solar, need to compete with oil as an already established energy source, which means that tax credits for their production is not unfair to big oil.

I also mentioned how the president has been inconsistent on coal energy. He has spoken to crowds about how the United States is “the Saudi Arabia of coal.” He praised our coal industry. But he also appointed one of the least rational energy secretaries in modern time in Steven Chu.

Dr. Chu is a smart man, but his war on coal is killing our economy and – believe it or not – it is killing our efforts to get to alternative energy.

As John Hofmeister, former president of Royal Dutch Shell has explained, the amount of sustainable green energy that exists right now cannot support our population, not yet. As we develop wind and solar, we still need to utilize fossil fuels.

Closing coalmines in the United States at the pace we are doing is dangerous. Critics argue that coal burns ugly and contributes to the greenhouse effect – and it does. But when these coal companies leave the U.S. and go to China, they still damage the environment, only now we are paying more for the energy.

A few years ago, the president supported a version of a “cap and trade” policy for which congressional Republicans were apoplectic. Cap and trade was originally a Republican idea that the party abandoned. It was a free market solution to regulating emissions.

A carbon tax may be different, and it may be the president’s way of spiking the ball in the end zone after a big win in November. If the GOP didn’t want to come to the table with cap and trade, then the president is going to take this fiscal cliff crisis and shove a bigger tax on them. It’s politics, but it may not be the best policy.

Congressional Republicans need to work with the White House to establish an independent council that sets energy policy the same way that the Federal Reserve regulates monetary policy.

The reason why we like the Federal Reserve is that it is not political. Let’s face it: there are some things that are just too important to put in the hands of the geniuses in Washington – whether they work in Congress or at the White House.

Well, why do we not take the same serious approach to our energy policy? As long as politics drives our energy policy, we are going to have one side bought by big oil and one side obsessed with taxing every element of our economy.

The future, if managed wisely, can see a 10 percent reduction in diesel usage by using biodiesel blends. Wind energy is already slicing off about $12,000 (annually) in electric bills in places like Chesapeake Community College in Maryland. Solar panels are taking on almost half of the electricity responsibility in buildings where they are in full use.

We will never be completely independent from the rest of the world, but we can be a good 30 to 40 percent more on our own, which would jolt our economy and provide a healthy step away from those who do not like us. The first order of business is for the president to accept the resignation of Steven Chu and put a more pragmatic energy secretary in place.

The second most important thing the president and Congress can do is to establish an independent council that has a board of governors – some appointed by the executive branch and some by Congress, which would take politics out of our energy policy. To put our energy in the hands of a polarized political climate is the only climate that is not subject to change.

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