Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner’s message, written five years ago, is still very much relevant today:
Almost all the settlers who arrived here hundreds of years ago were subsistence farmers. They cleared hundreds of millions of acres of trees. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “A single household could consume 20 to 40 cords of wood annually.” Economic growth changed all that.
First, we progressed from wood to coal. This allowed us to begin replacing millions of trees. Plus, coal was more efficient and easier to transport than wood, so it took less to produce more energy.
But even coal is fairly dirty, and of course digging it out of the ground affects the environment. So the country moved on to natural gas. It was safer, easier to get and cleaner burning.”
We can take it one step further and add nuclear energy in the mix. Nuclear power provides about twenty percent of the nation’s electricity. The United States has not ordered a new commercial nuclear reactor in over 30 years, but the 104 plants operating today prevented the release of 681.9 million metric tons of CO2 in 2005, which is comparable to taking 96 percent of cars off the roads.
And if we can successfully harness and distribute energy from the earth’s resources (whether it be sun, wind, or water), all the better. But for any energy source, energy production should be based on cost-benefit analysis – an analysis that should be done without including government subsidies, tax production credits or mandate. All energy sources should have the opportunity to compete in the market, so long as they can stand on their own two feet.