Groups in several coastal states dependent on expensive imports from foreign and sometimes hostile nations are working to thwart opportunities to learn more about the federal government’s latest plan to study the potential for oil and gas development off our nation’s coastlines — even though these states need more low-cost energy to meet surging demand and population.
The obvious solution would be a coordinated, all-of-the-above energy plan that includes increased local production, decreased imports and slashing high, unnecessary costs.
We all need help to lower prices for cash-strapped households, manufacturers and farmers who use large amounts of energy to power businesses, vehicles and machinery.
But that’s not what a few loud groups in several coastal states are promoting.
Instead, they’re pressuring policymakers to support policies that would make it difficult, or next to impossible, for their constituents to even learn more about opportunities to bring energy made offshore back to facilities onshore. This includes offshore wind and renewable energy.
Why, you ask?
The answer, as in many instances, is political. It’s also ill-advised given the number of households near the poverty marker in dire need of economic relief.
First, the offshore plan, if approved, would just be the first step in a lengthy process to see what resources and capabilities lay far offshore. Drilling isn’t a given. It may not even happen at all.
But, isn’t it wise to gather facts before making decisions?
It’s also critical that the energy industry continue to reduce air emissions and ensure clean water via new innovations and technologies. Such advancements ensure the nation remains a global leader in environmental progress. By every measure, air and water here are cleaner today than they were five, 10, even 30 years ago. That must continue.
But bending to the illogical wishes of radical anti-energy activists does not help anyone. We can and must protect our environment. On that, we all agree. But we also must provide sensible, realistic, responsible energy solutions, and we are not seeing any real efforts to find common ground.
Failing to offer energy solutions raises consumer energy bills, coastal and inland, thus hurting the most vulnerable of households, particularly lower-income families who repeatedly see a double-digit percentage of their take-home pay go toward gasoline and high electric bills – a dangerously higher percentage than the 6 percent or so most economists say is safe to spend.
But sensible, balanced policies and programs that support all types of energy including oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar can help lower these pointlessly high expenses — if done carefully. Thanks to tough regulations, improved techniques and state-of-the-art technologies, these states can reap the lower-cost benefits off our coasts while growing the economy and safeguarding the shorelines where all vacation, fish and swim.
But that’s all way ahead, if it happens. We still need to do studies, conduct surveys and hold public comment periods to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
It’s a carefully-planned process. Good thing, too. There’s a lot on the line, our cash-strapped neighbors and a delicate environment included.
David Holt is president of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA).
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