Everyone has heard at this point that America needs an energy policy that is comprehensive and can break our dependence on foreign oil. I completely agree with this idea, but I think that the current energy legislation really won’t do much more than cost everyone a lot of money and reduce business income in an already stagnant business environment.
I would propose the creation of a series of regional energy centers based on strategic distribution concerns. The regional energy center would consist of a new, ground-up oil and natural gas refining plant and a nuclear power plant, co-located. The funding for this would also provide for the necessary infrastructure to get the raw materials to the facilities and transport the finished products all over the country. The nuclear plants would provide clean energy for the refining, but also provide regional power. The raw materials would be mined from American wells and offshore. Offshore drilling has been shown to be far safer and less polluting than transport via tanker. This country has enormous energy resources that we are not tapping into. Unlike Norway and Russia, who drill for oil and sell it on the open market to provide funds, jobs, etc for their economies, we have chosen not to pursue the extraordinarily rich mineral resources we possess much to our own detriment. Also, if we are open to all sources of energy available to us, why not use the Keystone Pipeline from Canada? This is a safe, secure, inexpensive source of energy that we are foolish to ignore.
The drilling and mining of oil and natural gas in this country and offshore would have to be done under strict supervision and never in a way that is harmful to the environment. Companies that failed to comply with environmental protection regulations would be fined or lose drilling privileges. Those that met or exceeded standards would see a tax reduction.
A small tax, perhaps 2%, would be imposed on revenues gained from this system to pay for research and development of alternative fuels and energy sources so that over time, we could safely and in an economically feasible way convert to a different system of power and energy.
I would also advocate the establishment of a National Institute of Technology, Energy, and Computer Science (NITECS) which would be founded on similar principles and ideals as the NIH and would serve as a think-tank for solving our energy problems and advancing various technologies across the board. Each year, policy would be reviewed and a series of recommendations presented by the NITECS scientists to the congress and president for consideration and the legislative process. The cost of NITECS would be funded by monies from lease payments from the oil and gas industry for oil and gas mining on federal lands. As stated above, this would have to be strictly supervised to insure the environment at these sites was carefully protected.
Finally, over time, all government and military facilities should convert to as much green energy as possible–meaning solar, geothermal, etc. Some feel that the single largest expenditure made by the federal government is for energy. Though the initial cost of such a conversion would be high, the long term savings would be enormous. Also, this would make government and military installations much more secure as they would be independent of the grid in time of crisis.