NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Government Needs to Reevaluate Energy Policy

May 23, 2011

America's energy policy is as bad as our fiscal policy.  The federal government is focused on producing not more energy but less of it, on making costs higher rather than lower, and on expanding regulation, says former Delaware Governor Pete du Pont, policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Consider oil production.  Our government is limiting it and over the years domestic drilling has been declining.

  • In 1970 the United States produced 3.5 billion barrels of oil; by 2010 that figure was down to two billion.
  • The federal government has prohibited oil and natural gas drilling on 83 percent of federally owned land and increased the importation of foreign oil.
  • In 1970 only 500 million barrels were imported; last year it was 3.3 billion barrels.
  • That means that in 1970 U.S. oil production was 88 percent of consumption, and today it is only 37 percent.

As for other energy technology, the National Center for Policy Analysis's Sterling Burnett this month published an analysis of America's energy needs and costs.

  • Today solar power is close to our fastest-growing renewable energy source.
  • Its production grew 15.5 percent in 2009, but it still accounts for less than 0.5 percent of global electric power output.
  • And it isn't cheap: subsidized solar energy costs between $220 and $300 a megawatt hour, compared with $110 for electricity nationwide.
  • According to the Heritage Foundation the subsidies we pay are $23 per megawatt hour for solar and wind, compared with $1.59 for nuclear power, 44 cents for conventional coal, and 25 cents for natural gas.

We must start becoming competitive, without large subsidies, to reduce the current distortion in our energy markets, says du Pont.

Source: Pete du Pont, "Four More Dollars?" Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2011.

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