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Diversified, rational policy needed to meet energy goals

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 7, 2012

National energy policy discussions too often devolve into false choices. An example is that renewables can't gain a larger share of the power-generation mix unless fossil fuel sources are discouraged through official policy. Wind energy has been stymied by the market, not by policy. Natural gas is now so cheap that the economics of wind power are lacking. This won't always be true.

North America's energy consumers want options. They should be allowed to make decisions free of the kind of coercion that characterizes Obamacare's individual mandate. Those who want power supplied by wind should be encouraged to so do. Those who want to run cars and trucks on CNG or liquefied natural gas should be encouraged to do so.

Achieving North American energy independence doesn't mean moving toward a monopoly in which domestic oil and gas producers will get all the gold. Independence means giving consumers more choice and less fear of supply breakdowns. As it is, Americans have much to fear from instability in the Mideast and the potential for volatile price fluctuations. Independence would ease those fears. The U.S. spends $50 billion a year securing access to Middle Eastern oil. Independence would lessen those expenses.

Oklahomans have self-serving reasons to promote oil independence and the greater consumption of natural gas. People in Wyoming and West Virginia have self-serving reasons to promote coal. Environmental groups have self-serving reasons to promote wind and solar. In the end, though, all Americans are better off if they can choose among energy sources — coal, gas, oil, wind, solar, biofuels — produced on this continent rather than having to depend on foreign suppliers for a third or more of our energy.

Energy independence promotes supply stability. It's good for the economy. It's good for national security. This country is blessed with abundant natural resources, including wind and sunshine. Let's reverse the flow of cash to foreign nations. Let's sell our gas to them! Let's gradually and responsibly move toward renewables.

Let's make it our mission to achieve energy independence, just as we made it our mission to put people on the moon. Let's open the spigots of innovation and entrepreneurship. Let's allow choice, diversity and freedom to dominate national energy policy.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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