It would be gratifying to see my Congressman, Steve Pearce, a Republican, present a solid conservative proposal for energy security and job stimulation. Unfortunately, in an editorial he co-authored with Senator Barrasso of Wyoming that has made the rounds recently, he does not initiate an honest conversation on energy policy.
It is always worthwhile to review regulations that govern exploration, excavation, property rights, environmental damage, distribution and pricing of energy, and to eliminate regulations as appropriate. The authors, however, do not address any specifics. They simply rail against “regulations” per se. This is not policy, it is rhetoric.
We expect politicians to lie, especially in an election year, and both parties play with the truth; but we don’t need to be okay with it. In this case, our Congressman is lying to us when he complains that Washington is blocking energy production. Data from the Energy Information Administration shows that President Obama was correct when he stated that American oil production in 2011 had reached its highest level since 2003. Despite regulations over production in the Gulf, the EIA shows record production there as well. The projected decline for 2012 is only a few percent. Profits in the energy industry are robust.
Pearce and Barrasso want to blame their rivals for gasoline prices and unemployment, but the only redress they seek is to eliminate environmental protections. We are long past the day we can pretend our economy exists in an ecological vacuum. Energy is a dirty business; even the “alternative” energies come at an environmental cost. We need an energy industry no matter what, and this is why we also need an EPA.
It is unrealistic and even unfair to expect energy companies to balance profit with ecological stewardship all by themselves. Wise conservatives speak of living within your means. This also applies to industry on a finite planet.