Tag Archives: Energy

Podcast #114: Will Americans use renewable energy sources if it is voluntarily?

Supports of clean energy want to see alternatives to oil and coal take the lead in America, but don’t often consider the costs to consumers.

Josh Smith is a research manager with the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. He joins the podcast today to talk about Renewal Portfolio Standards (RPS) and how these well-intentioned policies for state energy usage can have a lopsided impact on those with the fewest resources.

Follow Josh Smith on Twitter @smithtjosh ‏ & Young Voices @YVadv

Army Corps decision on Dakota Access Pipeline is pure politics

Earlier this week, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to block the final easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. Tribal groups and environmentalists celebrated the federal government’s decision to reject the permit, claiming that the pipeline threatens tribal land and the environment. Unfortunately, the easement was blocked for reasons that are motivated by political pressure. The Army Corps’s decision has little to do with scientific evaluations or concern for economic benefits, providing further evidence of the extreme politicization in the federal regulatory process.

In its 2015 environmental assessment, the Army Corps specifically addressed the concerns surrounding the portion of the pipeline that would cross under Lake Oahe. The Army Corps rejected these concerns, noting Dakota Access’s effort to include safety features that would “minimize the risk of spills and reduce or remediate any potential damages.” The environmental assessment concluded that there was such a minimal effect on the environment that there was not even a need to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

One will note that the Army Corps’s sudden reversal on this is based on no new evidence at all.

Continue reading at The Hill.

Energy Policy for the Poor and Middle-Class

Lower oil prices help poor and middle-class families. In June 2014, oil traded at approximately $115 a barrel. Now, the price of a barrel is about $47.76. There were many reasons for the collapse in oil prices. For example, OPEC, a cartel of top oil producing countries, continued drilling for oil even though prices were dropping. But, equally important was the fracking boom. Fracking allowed for oil to flood the market lowering its price.

Drilling for more oil helps poor and middle-class families, and the U.S. must do more of it. Additionally, CNBC reports: “The US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world’s biggest exporting nations, according to a new study.”

Low oil prices and more oil reserves make U.S. families richer without them receiving an increase in their income. If families spend less on gas, they are able to save or spend more on other goods—making them richer.

Yet, with all its benefits, groups and presidential candidates want to stop fracking. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said: she would regulate it so thoroughly that “I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” Banning fracking and other methods of extracting oil from the ground will increase the price of energy.

If fracking was banned, supply of natural gas would fall dramatically and prices for gas and electricity would increase. Natural gas makes up 33 percent of energy produced in the U.S making it a top energy source. In 2014, families spend about 20% of their income on energy. Oil prices have remained low even with tensions between oil-states Iran and Saudi Arabia. As the Daily Caller reports: “There remains a lot of excess supply on global markets right now, thanks to increased production from unconventional sources like fracking.” Not drilling means higher gas prices.

Newer renewable energy is unaffordable to poor and middle class families. The rich can absorb energy price increases, but the poor cannot. For example, the new Tesla models cost $70,000.and more. Middle class families usually make that in a year.

Forcing the poor to pay more for energy is unfair and regressive policy. U.S. energy policy should make citizens wealthier—not poorer. Any person or policy aimed at making energy more expensive is taking money from people who need it most.