Congress Needs New Energy and a New Energy Policy
by Grant Bosse
As oil prices reach record highs, gasoline and diesel prices make every fill-up painful, and New Hampshire continues to pay the highest electricity prices in the nation, we have to ask ourselves; why does Congress keep making energy more expensive?
Last year’s Energy Bill continued Congress’s failed policies and did not provide sufficient incentives for entrepreneurship in the energy market. The partisan fight centered on whether or not to push through a massive tax increase on fossil fuels. This spat threatened the entire bill, and would have pushed gas prices even higher than we are seeing today. Congress never seriously considered lessening its interference in our energy markets, which would lower prices and allow new technologies to prosper.
My preferred energy policy would level the playing field for new technologies. We should not be subsidizing established industries such as coal, oil, and natural gas. And tax credits provided for emerging energy sources should be both technology-neutral and permanent. Temporary extensions of our tax credits force emerging energy companies to spend too much time asking Congress to maintain the credits. I would prefer a tax code that is predictable. With permanent tax credits in place, entrepreneurs could explore new technologies without fear of Congress changing the landscape.
Congress should not pick the next energy source for our nation. We’ve seen what a waste the ethanol boondoggle has proven to be, and the last Energy Bill just made it worse. As a Member of Congress, I would push for tax parity among alternative energy sources, so that solar, wind, biomass, and as yet undiscovered technologies could all prosper in those parts of the country best suited to them.
The United States is a net importer of energy, but a net exporter of energy technology. We are developing some of the world’s best breakthroughs in solar power, wind energy, and residential and commercial biomass generators. We should be deploying that technology domestically. I envision a far more diverse and distributed energy grid, with small and midsize generators across our country helping to power our economy. We’re not going to stop burning fossil fuels in this country anytime soon, but we can burn less.
Many politicians preach energy independence, but refuse to discuss using America’s proven energy reserves. We have massive proven reserves, and there’s no reason we can’t use them while protecting the environment.
We need to get the government out of the way of building new energy infrastructure. We haven’t built an oil refinery in this country in a quarter-century, creating a huge choke point in the energy pipeline. Seabrook is still the newest nuclear power plant in the U.S., so we’ve ignored a new source of emissions-free electricity for a generation. Federal regulations and the threat of never-ending lawsuits prevent companies from even considering new construction projects. We certainly shouldn’t subsidize nuclear power plant or oil refinery construction, but we won’t need to.
In New Hampshire, we sit on the edge of one of the world’s great forests. In the midst of this wood basket, we have the potential for cheap and renewable power generation. What we lack is the transmission capability to get that power through the Notches and onto the grid. Again, Congress is standing in the way, refusing to simplify the process by which new power lines are built. We need to be careful in balancing new development with preserving New Hampshire’s wilderness, but we can’t always take no for an answer if we want to revive the North Country economy.
High energy prices are driving up the cost of everything else, and slowing our economy. Congress needs to reverse its failed energy policies and let the free market bring energy prices back where they belong.