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Reason Foundation

Out of Control Policy Blog

Obama's Alternative Energy Fiasco

Samuel Staley
May 17, 2009, 1:22pm

Those skeptical of the Obama Administration's green energy initiatives will find Jon Utley's column at Reason.com worth a read. It's one thing to bolster R&D for untested and uncertain technologies such as wind and solar. It's quite another to activity shift us away from energy sources such as oil and gas that are delivering high energy output cheaply before the new technologies are viable. But, that's what we are doing.

Notes the ever engaging Utley,

"Americans will soon again feel the sting of gasoline costing $3.00 or $4.00 per gallon and then come to recognize how we've wasted years of opportunity to produce more energy domestically. For instance, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are 85 billion barrels of offshore oil. (And that is an old number. It is almost certain to increase once new exploration and testing are permitted.) New supplies in continental America, not to mention the billions of barrels now accessible in Alaska, could transform our trade deficit by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in imports. This would help rescue the value of the dollar, alleviate the cost of maintaining armies and navies in the Middle East, and help save free trade from the latest round of restrictions.

It's also essential to remember that so-called renewable energy cannot replace oil and natural gas in any significant way. For example, corn-based ethanol production "costs" nearly as much to produce as it saves in oil and can only exist with the help of costly and unending subsidies. Government, in other words, gets what it pays for. If it offers subsidies to alleviate global warming or make gasoline from grass, it will find promoters who will gladly accept that money and deliver scant results."


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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