by Sen. Doug Whitsett
Politicians, their environmentalist handlers, political pundits, and most news media outlets have relentlessly worked to convince the American public that the vast majority of us are “all in” on renewable energy. Further, they would have the public believe and that most of us abhor the use of carbon based fossil fuels. Notwithstanding their incessant litany, the vast majority of Americans are not buying their rhetoric.
The public understands that our economy runs on oil, natural gas and clean burning coal. Further, they recognize that heavily subsidized renewable wind and solar energy generation is expensive, unreliable, and simply not available in anywhere near the quantity required to power our economy. They know that restrictions in the availability and use of fossil fuels will certainly result in rolling blackouts, unavailability of heating and transportation fuels at any price, and huge inflationary pressure on virtually all other commodities.
A recent Harris Poll, commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, makes clear that large majorities of Americans want our nation to be more energy independent. Moreover, the American public appreciates that the only way energy independence can be accomplished is through the development of our vast reserves of domestic oil and natural gas.
This is not a partisan issue. According to the poll, those large majorities hold true among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. Neither is their support of fossil fuels related to gender, race, or level of financial security. The poll demonstrates that the majority in all demographic segments of our culture are strongly in favor of developing our national energy security through the expansion of domestic oil and natural gas production.
The poll asked thirteen unambiguous and straight forward questions that did not include clauses intended to modify opinion or instruct a particular answer. The Poll’s statistical confidence is 97 percent, meaning if the poll was reenacted 100 times it would be expected to have the same results 97 times. Of the 1012 Americans polled:
- 951 (94 percent) believe that it is important for the federal government to focus on energy development.
- 911 (90 percent) agree that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas could lead to more jobs.
- 900 (89 percent) agree that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas could help to stimulate the economy
- 880 (87 percent) agree that it is important to produce more oil and natural gas at home in the USA
- 870 (86 percent) agree that increasing production of domestic oil and natural gas could help to strengthen America’s energy security
- 830 (82 percent) agree that they would be strongly influenced by a politician’s stand on energy and America’s energy security.
- 830 (82 percent) agree that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas could benefit federal and state budgets through lease payments, royalty fees and other sources of revenue.
- 810 (80 percent) believe that producing more domestic oil and natural gas could help to strengthen America’s national security by lessoning the negative impacts of political instability in other parts of the word.
- 800 (79 percent) agreed that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas could help to lower energy costs for consumers.
- 779 (77 percent) support increased exploration and drilling for domestic oil and natural gas located in the United States.
- 688 (68 percent) support more off-shore drilling for domestic oil and natural gas.
- 688 (68 percent) also said that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports off-shore drilling to produce more domestic oil and natural gas.
- 637 (63 percent) said that they believe the federal government is not doing enough to encourage the development of domestic oil and natural gas.
Numbers of respondents in support were derived as the nearest whole number from the percentage of all people polled.
Our federal government has demonstrated its near complete disconnect from the people it represents by placing 87% of our potential oil and natural gas bearing waters off-limits to exploration and development. According to API, exploration and development of domestic oil and natural gas reserves located off the Atlantic Coast alone could create as many as 280,000 family wage jobs and $51 billion in new government revenue.
Moreover, America’s recent boom in the production of domestic oil and natural gas has occurred almost exclusively on privately owned land. Many of the shale oil resources currently being developed extend to very large areas of land owned by the public. A plethora of other extensive, well documented oil and natural gas resources on public lands lie in wait of development. In fact, known domestic fossil fuel resources are adequate to power this nation for centuries. Myriad federal regulations, restrictions and exclusions have all but shut down the exploration and development of these vast publicly owned domestic resources.
Governments seem to be using every imaginable strategy to force the increase in the costs of fossil fuels. Some of their most recent ploys include restricting access to domestic oil and natural gas resources, promulgating draconian restrictions on the use of coal to generate electricity, attempts to introduce broadly levied punitive taxes on carbon emissions, draconian new EPA rules restricting emission of so called greenhouse gases, and delaying the construction of the XL pipeline for so long that the Canadian government has recently decided to bypass the USA and build its own pipeline to the Canadian west coast.
Their purpose appears to be focused on making unreliable and unaffordable wind and solar energy appear to be less expensive by artificially driving up the cost of fossil fuels. Their methods of choice are to artificially limit the supply of domestic oil and natural gas and to impose punitive costs on the use of fossil fuels to power our nation. They further hide the costs of wind and solar power with tax credits, energy production credits, feed-in tariffs, accelerated depreciation and loan guarantees that are not reflected on ratepayers’ utility bills. Governments then attempt to mask the negative economic effects by excluding the price of food and energy from their cost of living indexes.
Their collective efforts are crippling our state and national economies as well as driving down our standard of living. The increasing cost of energy is both a job buster and an issue of social justice.
As our nation’s political obsession with renewable energy expands, the cost of energy becomes more unaffordable. Rapidly escalating energy costs cause businesses to spend an increasing portion of their financial resources on energy. Businesses can respond to this “out of their control” growth in costs by increasing the prices of their products, becoming more energy and labor efficient or accepting reduced profits. Too many businesses are losing profitability, laying off their employees, and ultimately going out of business. The certain result is an escalation in the loss of family wage jobs.
So too, the increasing cost of energy is grossly unfair to the financially disadvantaged. Families at or near poverty levels must pay a much higher percentage of their income for fuel, utilities and food.
They often have no source of family income other than their employment salaries. These families are disproportionately harmed by the concerted government efforts to drive up the cost of energy.
Governments have successfully employed the threat that global winter in the 1970’s, global warming in the 1990’s and most recently global climate change will surely result from the continued use of fossil fuels to power our economies. For decades, their efforts to manipulate science to prove their specious assumptions have served to sufficiently frighten the public to encourage compliance with ever-greater restrictions, regulations and energy cost escalations.
It now appears that the vast majority of Americans are fed up with the “chicken-little” rhetoric and manipulated science prognostications. Global winter and mass starvation did not occur as direly predicted in the 1970’s. Global warming ceased by the turn of the century in spite of both their grim predictions and the significant increase in the global use of fossil fuels. By all verifiable empirical accounts, the atmosphere, oceans and land masses have been cooling for the past 15 years. Any changes in global climates are well within the scope of normal historical variation. In fact, severe storms occurring in the US are currently at a low ebb.
The quickest and surest way for the American public to ensure the return of sound state and national energy polices is through the election process. Determining a candidates’ stand on energy security should be among our highest priorities. Energy policy should be a primary subject of every political discussion, debate or town hall. It is the voice of the people that drives public policy. It is time for those who make up the public silent majority to stand up and speak out.
Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls