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Investor's Business Daily


Enabling Unrealistic Energy Plans Is A Woefully Ill-Informed Public

April 20, 2009

By Drew Thornley

Our nation is on the precipice of a dramatic change in policy. Given the sweeping nature of the White House's proposals, it is worrisome that much of the Obama administration's agenda is based more on myth than in fact, more on hope than in reality.

The danger of such misguided plans is that, because they will increase the cost of energy, we'll be left with less of it.

American businesses and consumers can ill afford such a path. Rooting public policy in facts and reality is a must if we want reliable, affordable energy.

And given the state of our rising population and increased competition for scarce energy resources, a reliable, affordable energy supply is crucial to economic prosperity.

How much of the American public's energy and environmental knowledge is based on fact? Evidence from a new survey conducted by the Manhattan Institute, with Zogby Associates, indicates that many Americans misunderstand a wide range of energy issues.

For example, 49% of survey respondents believe Saudi Arabia exports the most oil to the U.S., while just 13% correctly identify Canada as our top foreign supplier.

Not So Cheap

Two-thirds of respondents believe we can meet future energy demand through conservation and efficiency. But historically, energy demand increases alongside efficiency gains, and conservation provides marginal consumption reductions.

Over 49% of respondents believe renewable energy will soon replace conventional power sources. Yet 91% of our electricity is generated by fossil fuel and uranium, and the Energy Information Administration projects that 85% of our electricity in 2030 will be generated by such fuel.

In a related finding, 54% of respondents believe renewable energy is cheaper than generating power from coal or natural gas, when, in fact, renewable energy is much more expensive.

Just 37% of respondents correctly answer that no one has died from the production of nuclear power in America.

On a few topics, respondents were better informed.

Almost 49% of respondents think reducing carbon emissions will not be simple or cheap — a belief supported by numerous analyses that project that strict carbon-cutting regimes will lead to falling GDP, reduced employment and higher energy prices across the board.

Additionally, half of those surveyed feel nuclear waste can be stored safely. That's in the wake of the Obama administration's recent decision to halt plans for a permanent nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada — after years of planning and billions of dollars invested and with no specific alternative put forth.

Finally, perhaps aware of the infrequency of offshore oil spills, 64% of respondents favor expanded offshore drilling. Clearly, much of the public sees benefits of tapping our own resources.

Meanwhile, our political leaders bemoan our dependence on foreign oil, yet prohibit drilling on many federal lands and offshore waters, where large reserves of oil exist.

Get Real

Reliable, affordable energy is the lifeblood of our nation's economy. The inevitable result of unrealistic energy plans is higher energy costs economywide, ultimately harming the poor the most.

Despite the broad economic and national-security consequences, America's political leaders are pursuing energy policies based on myths and false hopes.

It's high time to separate the myths from the facts.

From global conglomerates to Joe the Plumber, energy decisions affect everyone. Higher energy prices ultimately raise costs across all sectors and increase the prices consumers pay for a range of goods and services.

Americans deserve energy policies firmly rooted in the facts. Particularly amid the credit crisis, jittery market and rising unemployment, Americans can ill afford a hasty energy policy based on faulty assumptions and misinformation.

For a secure and affordable energy future, facts and reality, not false hopes, must be our guide.

Original Source:



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