If we act now to implement President Barack Obama’s energy plan – which proposes investment in clean energy (and some badly needed jobs to boot) – we can avert a future in which the nation’s energy costs rise by $420 billion a year over the next five years.
That translates to $3,500 for every American family.
Obama’s plan, which aims to hold energy companies’ feet to the fire over global warming gases like carbon dioxide, is now being challenged by these same companies, who charge that the plan’s associated “energy taxes” (estimated to exceed $400 billion), will reduce investment in domestic oil and gas at a time when America is just beginning to develop these resources to free itself from dependence on foreign oil.
Oil company propaganda suggests that these energy taxes will mean not only less energy to heat homes, transport food, run factories and light schools, but will actually reduce local, state and federal revenues at a time when cities across America are struggling with deficits.
The Republicans, who have been supporting the oil barons since Reagan, cite a cost to every household of $3,128 if Obama’s plan prevails. The figures are close; it’s the slant that’s demented.
They call their plan the “Road to Recovery”. I call it BS.
Domestic oil and gas is not sold exclusively in America, to Americans, at affordable rates, though this is the lie they would have you believe. Oil is sold in the international marketplace, at “spot” pricing that favors domestic oil. Witness the fact that, in 2007, the five major oil companies – Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP Chevron and ConocoPhillips – made almost $1.5 trillion in revenues out of a revenue pool of $1.9 trillion. The industry leader, ExxonMobil, earned a 33.4-percent return on revenues. The manufacturing industry, by comparison, makes about a 5.8 percent return.
Oil companies aren’t in business to lose money, or to protect American financial stability, so they oppose renewable energy. In spite of that, renewables are the only sane way forward. Like carbon reduction plans, ramping up to renewable energy costs a lot in the beginning, but the costs decline as technology advances. In the U.S. this threshold effect is already beginning to reduce the costs of solar and wind.
In fact, thin-film solar company Solyndra, which recently won a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy under the 2005 Energy Policy Act (but only after a nearly four-year hiatus, and with the help of a $6-billion allocation from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), expects to hit grid parity with coal in 2-3 years.
Reliance on fossil fuels has led to rising gasoline prices and higher pass-through utility costs as energy companies switch to clean-burning natural gas to evade the environmental penalties of burning coal. Now, with the U.S. facing “Peak Gas” (about 10 years worth of supply at today’s consumption rates), and utility costs rising so fast that the average consumer must often choose between heating a home or buying medication, the next logical step is not returning to coal or oil, but focusing on renewables like solar and wind power.
Why? Simply because the hard work has already been done, and the light at the end of the tunnel (pun intended) is clearly visible, particularly on such cutting-edge developments as molted salt technology to deliver solar energy even when the sun isn’t shining.