NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

DEMS' ENERGY ANSWER: SNAKE OIL

November 27, 2006

Washington spends more than $3 billion a year on renewable and alternative energy programs, clean coal technology, energy research and the like, according to the Government Accountability Office.  Yet all these Big Government efforts have failed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

In fact, the opposite has occurred.  In 1970, imports accounted for about 20 percent of the country's oil supply; today, they account for 60 percent.  To understand why, take a look a few specifics.

Fuel economy:

  • The federal government has since 1975 required automakers to meet corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards; as a result, cars on the road today are 52 percent more fuel efficient than they were 30 years ago.
  • But that hasn't cut gasoline consumption; average per-person spending on gasoline is up 4 percent since 1975 after adjusting for inflation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis; one key reason is that people are driving more, offsetting the gains in efficiency.

Renewables:

  • Today, solar, wind, geothermal and bio- mass energy contribute 2 percent of U.S. electricity generation, despite decades of federal and state government support; since 1978, the federal government alone has kicked in more than $11 billion to support renewable fuels.
  • By 2020, these sources will supply only 2.8 percent of the nation's electricity needs, according to the Energy Department; that share could be increased, but only at a substantial cost to taxpayers, since these sources of energy are so much more expensive than coal, natural gas or nuclear power plants.

If the Democrats are serious about energy independence, they will have to do something more than push costly remedies that have already been tried and proven ineffective, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Dems' Energy Answer: Snake Oil," Investor's Business Daily, November 24, 2006.

 

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