A Word about Energy

Last week Mitt Romney released his energy plan should he be elected to office in November. It consists  deregulating the heavily regulated petroleum and nuclear industries and opening publicly owned sites to facilitate the tapping into American and North American resources.

In addition, he plans on supporting so-called alternative energy sources buy providing grants to basic research, and using the ARPA-E mechanism for such grants (think DARPA which is a hugely successful program).

Of course his policies were met with criticism by Francisco Peña, the former energy secretary under President Clinton. In the NYT, he is quoted as saying, “We will never reach energy independence by turning our backs on homegrown renewable energy and better auto mileage.”

Here’s the deal, energy is the life’s blood of the economy. As energy is required for all things, cheap energy is perhaps the biggest stimulus to the economy. Fossil fuels are necessary for moving things around and nuclear energy is a very cost effective and, to be frank, safe source of electrical power. If we can lower our energy costs by moving towards energy independence (from fossil fuel harvested by OPEC, Venezuela and other unsavory characters) that’s great. Even if the cost break point of true energy independence is about the same, that is also a good thing because we aren’t beholden to political instability in foreign nations and our businesses can have an easier time projecting costs.

Also, Dr. J. has read up on the theories revolving around climate change, finds the whole man-made CO2 as a pollutant as a bit preposterous. He isn’t saying that there hasn’t been some element of global warming, but he has trouble swallowing that we are doing enough to cause it, and if we are, there are certainly far worse actors than the US. That doesn’t mean that Dr. J. wants a smokestack in every pot, but he thinks the pendulum has swung too far to the Sierra Club/EPA left and we are tying two hands behind our back when it is reasonable to tie the left ring finger and pinky back, at the most.

Obama’s energy policy of picking winners and losers based on what types of energy feel good to him, rather than economics has resulted in $4 gas and Solyndraesque boondoggles. A free market approach would have probably driven us closer to $2.50 gas and fewer dollars wasted on boondoggles that would have collapsed on their own sooner.

Obama’s energy policy has pinched Dr. J.’s pocket a little, but it has hurt his nurses, techs, and custodial staff even more. They tend to live farther away from New Atlantis Ivory Tower Medical Center than Dr. J. and his physician colleagues do, and they earn less than Dr. J. does, so high gas prices and electric bills make it harder for them to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, pushing them towards a more subsistence lifestyle. The more subsistence living Americans do, the more it cripples economic recovery. Circle of economic life and all…

Alternative energy sources are a wonderful thing, but they aren’t ready for primetime. And to be perfectly honest, they are, at present, a LUXURY, not a necessity. So to all of you progressives, sitting in your posh salons, imposing your notions of how things should be are as gauche as Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake.” Except in your case it’s saying, “Let them eat Solar wafers…”

Don’t get him started on public transportation…it doesn’t work everywhere and public transportation as a sustainable industry is a myth. The rare exception proves the rule. What works in NYC (at horrendous subsidization) won’t work in the big square states.

As necessity is the mother of invention, there will come a time when alternative sources will surpass best current sources, but crippling the ability to obtain current sources and propping up alternative sources will not get you there sooner.

If you want to pay extra on your electrical bill, for green sources, good for you. If you want to drive a Prius (though Dr. J. will argue to the grave that the carbon footprint of the Imperial Shuttle is far smaller given your battery and all of the transport of parts and raw materials and disposal issues). If you can afford to go geothermal or solar to decrease your carbon footprint as you build your next house, that’s your thing. Geothermal is a very smart longterm plan, but expensive upfront. Just don’t cast the evil eye on your neighbor who cannot afford to do so. With growing environmental regulations on businesses, and 3 1/2 years of an energy hostile energy policy by the Obama administration, our recovery has been at a crawl and businesses and individuals are struggling.

If we have an energy policy that sets goals that reasonably balance the tensions between cheap, safe and independent we will be well on our way to recovery. Presently we’ve confused safe with none and that has to change or we are doomed as a nation.

About Dr. J.

Dr. J. was born the son of a New Atlantean sharecropper who cornered the market on notoriously delicious seaweed Himanthalia elongata (popularly known as Thongweed). With his newly minted seaweed fortune, Mr. J. the Elder sent his son to attend the Academy of Sorcery, Alchemy and Surgery where the good doctor apprenticed with the finest sorcerer surgeons in New Atlantis. Dr. J.'s areas of expertise grew to include bleeding, cutting for stone, trephination, medical divination with outstanding spatial and temporal resolution, cybernetic sorcery and medicinal alchemy. When King Orin of Atlantis fell ill with the Ick, Dr. J. stepped in with an elixir he devised from a combination of minerals, herbs and saps. Curing the king, Dr. J. gained significant notoriety which afforded him the luxury of time to devote himself to his side hobbies which include porpoise racing, the study of supply-side economics, cooking and raising his lovely merchildren alongside his lovely bride the archconservative Mrs. Dr. J.