The future of energy is traditional

Posted Sunday, Mar. 30, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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greene While climate change discussions continue to dominate media coverage of the nation’s energy policy, the Obama administration identifies a domestic fossil fuel as the wave of future.

Every year, the U. S. Department of Energy produces a comprehensive analysis of where our country obtains the fuels that power the world’s largest economy and the daily lives of us all.

Contrary to impressions that climate-friendly “renewable” energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and others are where we are headed, the certainty is that none of these alternatives are doing much for us now nor will they anytime soon.

Obama’s energy department reports that production from all the renewables will increase by just 1 percentage point during the next 25 years. Currently, we get 11 percent of our energy from these sources.

The other nearly 90 percent comes mostly from places under the ground. Our government forecasts little change in that number.

Between now and 2040, domestic production of crude oil, coal and nuclear energy will fall by only two to four percent while relatively clean natural gas supplies will increase by an amount equal to the decline in the other traditional sources combined.

The president is waging an economically crippling war on coal and the more than 150,000 blue-collar jobs that this industry supports in half the states of the country.

In the meantime, he sends significant signals that he supports the growth in natural gas production — even to the extent of increasing exports of the life-supporting fuel to other countries.

He does so at the chagrin of national environmental activist organizations, many of which continue to demand that he not do the one thing that would do more than any other to ensure economic recovery, job creation and our national security.

Considering the sobering realities of what the Department of Energy continues to tell us, approval of the Keystone pipeline is simply essential. Another of the president’s executive offices has studied, seemingly forever, fears of significant environmental impacts of the project and concluded that such concerns are unfounded.

We have the regulatory power and the technology to ensure safe and clean energy from traditional sources while the slowly developing and, so far at least, fledgling initiatives in renewals are being pursued.

The air is cleaner, the water purer, the land better protected and earth-warming carbon dioxide levels lower than they were before climate change became such a concern — whether among believers who seek drastic actions to curtail what they believe to be the causes or among deniers who say we are wasting time and money on a nonexistent problem.

So, what’s holding things up? Answer: politics, as usual. Fears of the outcry from the environmental left in an election year have the president in a quandary.

After November, with the full onset of Obama’s lame-duck status, maybe he will do what the majority of Congress and the American people want and approve the pipeline.

He could also support more domestic oil production on public lands like he has done on private property and maybe even consider whether the better course in dealing with coal is to expand initiatives to make it clean, instead of trying to regulate it out of existence.

Maybe he’s thinking he will have more flexibility to do these things after the mid-term elections — like he explained to Vladimir Putin, only this time he could use that tool to the country’s advantage.

When history is written, he will not be remembered as the great reformer of health insurance. But it could be that he did what the country needed to power economic opportunity, increase our security and ensure the quality of life for the American people through energy independence.

We can hope.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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