The left is still entirely flummoxed about how to respond to conservative dominance on energy issues. The Center for American Progress’ Matthew Yglesias has been reduced to absurdly caricaturing Republican policy proposals. Yglesias writes:
[I]t’s worth pointing out that at today’s version of the House GOP’s now-daily “Let’s Drill Everywhere!” press conference, Rep. John Shinkus (R-IL) observed that “if drilling is good, then drilling and mining is better.” And, indeed, it’s true that if we think we should give zero consequences to the environmental, economic, and public health harms caused by the resource-extraction activities of the fossil fuel industry then we really should go beyond mining in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and all along America’s coastline — why not tear up as much of the country as possible looking for coal?
No one is advocating that we tear down the Washington Monument to mine for coal beneath it. Those that suggest otherwise just expose their own desperation. Conservatives do believe that advances in technology make oil and natural gas production much less intrusive and much more safe than they were in 1969 when an oil platform operating in violation of federal code, spilled oil off the coast of Santa Barbara. The real issue here, is that while the rest of the world is developing their resources, the U.S. is not. For example:
- Brazil, whose beautiful beaches rival or surpass anything in California or Florida, recently discovered a huge underwater oil field and it is moving quickly to begin drilling.
- China and Japan were able to put aside centuries of mistrust to come to an agreement on how to drill and share oil in waters in between their countries.
- Germany plans to build 27 coal-fired plants by 2020.
- Italy plans to increase its reliance on coal from 14% today to 33% in just five years.
- In 2006 alone, China completed enough coal power plants to match all of Britain’s capacity.
- India plans to boost coal production by 50% by 2012 and quadruple it by 2030.
- France already gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear power.
- Japan has six nuclear plants under construction and another six planned. India also has six under construction and another 19 planned. China has seven under construction and another 85 planned.
Right now the U.S. has 760 gigawatts of power to meet consumption. We will need 135 gigawatts of new capacity over the next decade to keep the lights on, but right now only 57 gigawatts of power are planned. No matter what Barack Obama and Al Gore tell you, alternative energy sources cannot meet demand. Around the world governments are weighing the advantages and disadvantages of developing their own natural resources and as the list above shows, environmentalists are losing out to consumers who want lower energy prices. We’ll see of the environmentalists or American consumers will win here.