Knoxville, Tenn. — U.S. House Republicans today unveiled the American Energy Act, an “all of the above” strategy to address high gas prices Americans have struggled with for several months. Although this strategy would extend some renewable energy tax credits, a careful examination of “all of the above” reveals that it is mostly more of the same dirty and shortsighted energy choices that brought us to our current energy dilemma. These Members of Congress are holding real energy solutions hostage as they engage in partisan squabbling, threatening to use all opportunities to force a vote on these false solutions. The inclusion of renewable energy provisions is designed to make this approach seem balanced, but on this test, “all of the above” is not the right answer.
The “all of the above” approach centers on increasing fuel supply through offshore drilling, expanding oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and scraping the bottom of the barrel to develop oil shale, Canadian tar sands and liquid coal, the dirtiest sources of fuel available. The claim that this approach will reduce prices and help America achieve energy independence ignores abundant evidence to the contrary. Moreover, this approach pays little attention to our greatest opportunity: increasing our oil supply by increasing automobile fuel efficiency and squeezing more mileage out of every barrel of oil.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that the “all of the above” approach of increased fossil fuel exploration provides little hope in achieving the stated goals. The EIA 2007 Annual Energy Outlook warns that developing offshore oil resources would only increase oil supply by 1.6% by 2030. Even then, any impact on oil prices would be minimal. Their research also confirms that drilling in ANWR would only reduce oil prices by 57 cents per barrel in 2025, and commercial viability of the most advanced oil shale recovery processes is 15 years away. Canadian tar sands oil has been in development and included in American oil supply for years, but we have still witnessed escalating fuel prices.
Long-time oil investor T. Boone Pickens admits, “I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” Yet improved fuel efficiency standards and conservation measures would enable Americans to save money and take meaningful steps toward energy independence. Energy analyst Amory B. Lovins argues that the United States can double automotive fuel economy at the equivalent cost of $12 per barrel.
We applaud bipartisan efforts to investigate meaningful, long-term solutions, but it is imperative that we seek solutions that prioritize conservation and efficiency and accelerate the development of clean alternatives like advanced cellulosic biofuels and renewable electricity production. Americans are suffering from high fuel prices, and the only way to bring permanent relief is to end fossil fuel hegemony.
1 Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html (Accessed July 2008)
2 Energy Information Administration. Impacts of Modeled Provisions of H.R. 6 EH, July 2005.
3 Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/archive/aeo06/index.html
4 Pickens Plan. http://www.pickensplan.com/index.php (Accessed: July 2008)
5 Lovins AB, Datta EK, Bustnes OE, Koomey JG, Glasgow NJ. 2004. Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security. Snowmass, CO:Rocky Mountain Institute. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. For more information, go to: www.cleanenergy.org