We want affordable energy so we can heat our homes and drive our cars and still have enough left over in our budgets to save for retirement and enjoy life today.
Most Americans support a balanced approach to energy production. Yet politicians spend a lot of time demonizing some forms of energy like coal, natural gas, and petroleum, while treating other sources like solar and wind as if they were flawless—the perfect answer to the energy crisis.
The fact is that all forms of energy have costs and benefits. Wind power, for example, provides energy only when it’s windy and kills about 400,000 birds each year and tens of thousands of bats. Should wind power be rejected? No, but it should not be used in areas with migrating birds or low winds.
Solar power is expensive to produce, takes up significant space, and only works well where it’s sunny. That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be used, but we should recognize that solar isn’t the surefire solution to our energy needs.
As with wind and solar power, petroleum, natural gas, and coal have costs to consider, but they also have benefits. The United States has abundant reserves of coal and natural gas and the largest reserve of shale oil in the world. Development of these energy sources means less expensive gas for our cars and electricity and heating for our homes. Local energy production also creates jobs for Americans, income for American families, and tax funds for local communities.
Recently, a Denver Post staff editorial scolded the Sierra Club for opposing natural gas saying that “No energy source is without impact on the environment, though some clearly leave a bigger mark than others. The Sierra Club ought to be cheering the move toward cleaner natural gas, not condemning it because it's not a perfect solution.” The Post points out that concerns regarding groundwater pollution are largely baseless. Natural gas derived by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), where by pressurized fluid is pumped into deep wells to break the rock and release the natural gas, is unlocking vast reserves of the resource.
While inexpensive natural gas (supplemented with solar and wind generated power) takes care of home heating and cooling costs, Americans still face high gas prices essential for transportation. High gas prices raise the cost of shipping and production, which means higher costs for food, clothing, and other everyday purchases. It’s hard to believe that gas was only $1.95 a gallon when President Bush left office. At over $3.50 a gallon, Americans are having to make very tough choices this summer. Clearly, Americans need lower gas prices as well.
The government needs to stop favoring one kind of energy production over another by ending subsidies to the preferred few. Instead it should take a balanced approach that leads to affordable energy from multiple sources—natural gas, petroleum, wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear.
Did you know that the water used in fracking accounts for less than 1% of water use in the state?