Oil Discoveries Feed Our Habit, Don’t Heal the Planet
|November 22, 2013||Posted by Staff under Environmental|
Higher extraction won’t free the USA. More oil and gas merely ups our addiction.
This 2013 excerpt of USA Today, Aug 19, by Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
U.S. oil extraction may be up 44% since 2008, but don’t celebrate yet; so are prices. The costs of crude oil have risen 6% in that time. And our bad habit hasn’t wanted at all.
The fracking that is driving our oil and gas surge has grown at breakneck speed. Our public safeguards haven’t kept pace. Companies have lobbied their way around bedrock environmental laws, and states have responded with weak rules and limited enforcement.
We cannot continue down this path without safeguards that protect people, farms, and communities from toxic chemicals, contaminated water, and permanent scarring. Some places, such as those home to major drinking water supplies or rare landscapes, must be put off-limits.
More oil and gas consumption only exacerbates climate change. Last year alone, Americans suffered $140 billion in crop losses, wildfires, storm damage, and other impacts of extreme weather made worse by climate change. The federal government picked up the lion’s share of the tab at an average cost of $1,100 per taxpayer.
There are the clean energy innovations that will lead us to a stronger economy, healthier communities and a safer planet. This is what it takes for America to be truly energy independent.
Ed. Notes: The author wants government to invest in new technology, but can government choose the right ones? It hasn’t yet; nuclear was its earlier choice.
What government can and is supposed to do is not distort the market but defend rights. What if government …
- quit subsidizing oil & gas?
- quit limiting the liability of polluters?
- recovered the “rental” value of natural assets in the ground, instead of letting oil companies hog them?
- did not tax wages, so it’d be profitable for workers to insulate, install solar, etc?
- recovered the socially-generated value of sites so owners would quit speculating in land and cities could grow compact?
- paid citizens a dividend so basement inventors could have enough cushion to get their ideas out and others would have a surplus to invest in them?
These are the policies that government could, and should, take to help solve our energy and environmental issues.