Recently the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a "2014 Priority Issues Survey" which contained a section on energy.
Section VII, asks: "Which of the following will help America achieve energy independence?" It offers five options that do little to move America toward energy independence — which isn't even a realistic goal given the fungible nature of liquid fuels. Additionally, most of the choices given on the survey actually increase energy costs for all Americans — serving as a hidden tax — but hurt those on the lower end of the socio-economic scale the most. The proposals hurt the very people the party purports to champion.
The survey asks respondents to "check all that apply."
• Raising gas mileage standards for all new cars and trucks
This choice presumes that making a law requiring something will make it happen. Even the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard of 54.5 mpg will be tough to hit.
With the price of gasoline wavering between $3 to $4 a gallon, most people are very conscious of their fuel expenditures. If it were technologically possible to build a cost-effective truck or SUV that had the size and safety Americans want and that got 54.5 mpg, that manufacturer would have the car-buying public beating a path to its door. Every car company would love to be the one to corner that market—but it is not easy, it probably won't be possible, and it surely won't be cheap.
• Develop Renewable Energy Sources
In preparation for writing this column, I posted this question on my Facebook page: If the goal is "energy independence," what issues should be a priority in America? The first answer posted was: "Smart grid and fast ramp natural gas turbines." Another offered: "High efficiency appliances and lights. I am a LED FAN!" Yet, another: "Solar, tidal, water." Bzzzzzzt, all wrong answers.
All of the above suggestions are about electricity. The United States is already electricity independent. We have enough coal and uranium under our soil to provide for our electrical needs for the next several centuries. Add to that America's newfound abundance of natural gas and we are set indefinitely. By the time we might run out of fuel for electricity, new technologies will have been developed based on something totally different, and, I believe, something that no one is even thinking about today.
• Encouraging consumer and industrial conservation
Consumers are already feeling the pinch of higher energy costs — both electricity and liquid fuels. When possible, people are restricting driving by taking a stay-cation rather than a traditional vacation. Many people who can afford the option are switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs.
Most industry is energy intensive. In a story about the Ford F-150's use of aluminum to lower mpg, the Wall Street Journal says that the new manufacturing process requires "powerful and electricity-hungry vacuums." Industry cannot stay in business without profit. Therefore, in interest of preservation, energy conservation is already virtually an instinct.
• Investing in energy-efficient technology
When the word "investing" is used in reference to a government document or program, it always means spending taxpayer dollars. In a time of ongoing economic stress, we don't need to borrow more money to spend it on something of questionable impact on energy independence.
Remember, much of the "efficiency" numbers bandied about refer to electricity, which has nothing to do with energy independence.
• Increasing offshore drilling and oil exploration in wilderness areas
Respondents are discouraged from selecting the one item on the list that could actually lead to "energy independence" by the inclusion of the words "offshore" and "wilderness areas" — as if those are the only places drilling could take place.
Yes, we should increase exploration and drilling — and, while there are risks, it can be, and has been, done safely in offshore and wilderness areas. But there are vast resources available on federal lands that are either locked up or are under a de facto ban due to the slow-walking of drilling permits.
While the options on the survey, even if a respondent checked them all, will do little to "help America achieve energy independence," the survey didn't include any choices that could really make a difference.
Some selections that would indicate a true desire to see America freed from OPEC's grip should include:
• Approving the Keystone pipeline;
• Revising the Endangered Species Act so that it isn't used to block American Energy Development;
• Encouraging the use of Compressed Natural Gas as a transportation fuel in passenger vehicles and commercial trucks;
• Expediting permitting for exploration and drilling on federal lands;
• Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and
• Cutting red tape and duplicative regulations to encourage development.
The fact that not one option that would truly make a difference was included belies the ideology of the Democrat Party. Its goals do not include energy independence. Instead it wants to continue the crony corruption that has become the hallmark of the Obama Administration as evidenced by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz's April 2 announcement that: "the department would probably throw open the door for new applications for renewable energy project loan guarantees during the second quarter of this year."
The goal shouldn't really be "energy independence," instead, it should be energy freedom — the ability to use energy freely without peoples hostile to America being able to use it as a weapon against us.