Energy: The GOP's Issue for 2006

Many on the Left are eagerly awaiting the elections in November with the perception, or delusion, that the Republicans in the House and the Senate have been weakened by the Iraq War and multiple budget deficits.  Although many conservatives are equally outraged at the reckless spending that has taken place since 2001, the GOP may have a winning issue which would be extremely difficult for the Democrats to cope with while keeping their environmental base happy.  The issue is energy.

Although often accused of being too chummy with Big Oil, the Republicans have the most to gain from a reformed energy policy.  The Left has consistently prevented the modernization of America's energy—producing infrastructure, resisted attempts to find new sources of energy within America's borders, and allowed radical environmentalists to halt or slow the means to produce energy cheaper.

It is now commonly understood that no new oil refineries have been built in the United States in over twenty years.  This has left the country with an outdated refining infrastructure, tight production capacity, and less competition within an industry already burdened by tendencies toward oligopoly.  The reasons for the failure to build new refineries are complex, but much of the blame can be placed on incredibly burdensome environmental regulations and bureaucracy which stifle any desire to expand. 

Environmentalists have prided themselves on their war against oil.  While oil  may not be the most desirable of energy sources because of its harmful byproducts and volatility, it is undeniably the life blood of the American economy, the world economy, and ultimately our present way of life.  Until an alternative is found, oil is a very necessary evil which we must live with and produce in larger quantities. Some of the blame for the high costs of oil, and much of the blame for our need to import so much of it, can be laid at the feet of  the environmental movement, because they have made it more difficult and more expensive to refine, and have placed off limits to drilling so much of our most promising territory offshore, on federal lands in the West, and in Alaska.

The US government's most recent numbers (from 1998) show that oil constituted 18% of America's energy production, with natural gas at 26.7%, coal at 32.6%, nuclear at 9.8%, and hydroelectric at just 4.7%.  Using oil for electricity is a tremendous waste when other options are so readily available.  The development of clean coal technology presents an enormous opportunity to better limit the use of oil.  Nuclear and hydroelectric power generation should be greatly expanded to further increase the supply of oil for other uses rather than simply energy production.  To produce two—thirds of our electricity through oil is tremendously wasteful when other options are available and cheaper.

The Democrats have vigorously resisted attempts to find more sources of energy within the continental US, and have even been joined by some Republicans.  Despite large reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, Governor Jeb Bush has spearheaded the effort to limit oil production off his state's coast.  This has largely been due to an exaggerated fear that any accident would adversely effect tourism. While America holds its nose, Cuba moves to exploit oil fields in the Gulf od Mexico. 

However, Democrats have been the lead blockers of exploration of energy, most famously in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Although ANWR's supplies would not eternally fix the US's energy problems, it would be a huge step in the right direction towards reducing dependence on foreign sources. 

The Democrats have allowed their radical environmental base to pull them drastically to the left on almost every energy issue.  They do not support the construction of new nuclear plants, investing in clean coal technology, or finding new sources of energy at home.  The Republicans should be able to capitalize on this significant weakness to which the Democrats have exposed themselves. 

President Reagan demonstrated that an optimistic vision of what America is and can be has enormous appeal to Americans. Linking the production of more domestic energy to both the war on terror and American prosperity is a winning formula for the GOP. But only if it has the wit to seize the opportunity.

Jonathan D. Strong is the Proprietor of The Strong Conservative.

Many on the Left are eagerly awaiting the elections in November with the perception, or delusion, that the Republicans in the House and the Senate have been weakened by the Iraq War and multiple budget deficits.  Although many conservatives are equally outraged at the reckless spending that has taken place since 2001, the GOP may have a winning issue which would be extremely difficult for the Democrats to cope with while keeping their environmental base happy.  The issue is energy.

Although often accused of being too chummy with Big Oil, the Republicans have the most to gain from a reformed energy policy.  The Left has consistently prevented the modernization of America's energy—producing infrastructure, resisted attempts to find new sources of energy within America's borders, and allowed radical environmentalists to halt or slow the means to produce energy cheaper.

It is now commonly understood that no new oil refineries have been built in the United States in over twenty years.  This has left the country with an outdated refining infrastructure, tight production capacity, and less competition within an industry already burdened by tendencies toward oligopoly.  The reasons for the failure to build new refineries are complex, but much of the blame can be placed on incredibly burdensome environmental regulations and bureaucracy which stifle any desire to expand. 

Environmentalists have prided themselves on their war against oil.  While oil  may not be the most desirable of energy sources because of its harmful byproducts and volatility, it is undeniably the life blood of the American economy, the world economy, and ultimately our present way of life.  Until an alternative is found, oil is a very necessary evil which we must live with and produce in larger quantities. Some of the blame for the high costs of oil, and much of the blame for our need to import so much of it, can be laid at the feet of  the environmental movement, because they have made it more difficult and more expensive to refine, and have placed off limits to drilling so much of our most promising territory offshore, on federal lands in the West, and in Alaska.

The US government's most recent numbers (from 1998) show that oil constituted 18% of America's energy production, with natural gas at 26.7%, coal at 32.6%, nuclear at 9.8%, and hydroelectric at just 4.7%.  Using oil for electricity is a tremendous waste when other options are so readily available.  The development of clean coal technology presents an enormous opportunity to better limit the use of oil.  Nuclear and hydroelectric power generation should be greatly expanded to further increase the supply of oil for other uses rather than simply energy production.  To produce two—thirds of our electricity through oil is tremendously wasteful when other options are available and cheaper.

The Democrats have vigorously resisted attempts to find more sources of energy within the continental US, and have even been joined by some Republicans.  Despite large reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, Governor Jeb Bush has spearheaded the effort to limit oil production off his state's coast.  This has largely been due to an exaggerated fear that any accident would adversely effect tourism. While America holds its nose, Cuba moves to exploit oil fields in the Gulf od Mexico. 

However, Democrats have been the lead blockers of exploration of energy, most famously in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Although ANWR's supplies would not eternally fix the US's energy problems, it would be a huge step in the right direction towards reducing dependence on foreign sources. 

The Democrats have allowed their radical environmental base to pull them drastically to the left on almost every energy issue.  They do not support the construction of new nuclear plants, investing in clean coal technology, or finding new sources of energy at home.  The Republicans should be able to capitalize on this significant weakness to which the Democrats have exposed themselves. 

President Reagan demonstrated that an optimistic vision of what America is and can be has enormous appeal to Americans. Linking the production of more domestic energy to both the war on terror and American prosperity is a winning formula for the GOP. But only if it has the wit to seize the opportunity.

Jonathan D. Strong is the Proprietor of The Strong Conservative.