Try to figure out what year these news stories are from: “Reduced the amount of ammonia made in Antwerp and Ludwigshafen.” “Because of the high price of natural gas, British fertilizer plants have to close.” “Diesel is in short supply and prices are going up, so truck stops are rationing.” You would be wrong if you said 2022. All of those date back to September 2021.
In reality, the energy crisis started to happen late last year, but was decades in the making.
When you add up the long-term overinvestment in unreliable renewables, the shutdown of nuclear plants around the world after the Fukushima disaster, and the drop of more than 50 percent in oil and gas investments from 2014 to last year, from $700 billion to $300 billion, you have everything you need to start a global energy crunch.
Don’t think that the United States is safe from the crisis. We have a lot of great resources here at home, but we’re moving toward disastrous Europe green policies. In the last few years, the United States has shut down nuclear and coal plants too soon.
The fossil fuel industry doesn’t want to put money at risk by expanding when the Democrats keep threatening to destroy it. Since Truman, no president has leased fewer federal lands for oil and gas. Even worse, most of the new power being added to the grid comes from wind and solar, which aren’t reliable.
What does this add up to? The energy and electricity industries in the United States are weak, fragile, and expensive. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association said over the summer that one in six U.S. homes, or about 20 million, are behind on their utility bills.
Since last year, electricity prices have gone up by 233 percent in some parts of the country. The North American Electricity Reliability Corporation has warned that blackouts are becoming more likely to happen in a large part of the country.
Don’t forget the northeast. Even though the Marcellus Shale Formation is close to the mid-Atlantic states, the area doesn’t have the pipelines to bring natural gas from it because “green” policies have stopped them. People in New Hampshire now pay twice as much for electricity as they did before, and businesses pay three times as much. The rest of New England will soon follow.
But the United States doesn’t have to be like Europe. Instead of doubling down on the “energy transition,” the U.S. should stop being shocked by the harsh realities of the outside world and commit to energy realism. Our economy can’t keep going without energy.
What should we do?
First, more hydrocarbons are needed. Whether you like it or not, fossil fuels provide 80% of our energy. We need to cut the red tape getting permits so that more pipelines can be built faster. We should also get rid of all taxes on carbon, which make our energy more expensive. And we need to give the fossil fuel industry more federal land to use. And get rid of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is a costly waste of money.
Second, we must set the atom free. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission have set extreme safety standards. The NRC’s process for approval takes too long. It must be changed so that it has fewer and clearer standards and approval processes are faster and less expensive.
Third, we have to make our grid stronger. When built in large numbers, wind and solar power can ride for free on the reliable power plants that can be called on at any time to keep the grid running. Also, wind and solar often tend to stop making power when it is most needed.
The Energy Information Administration says that when California was on the verge of blackouts, wind and solar energy production dropped sharply. After sundown, natural gas stepped in to save the day. It provided more than half of needed electricity. Oh, California imports 30% of their electricity.
With this plan, we have to go against the green mob, which wrongly thinks that anything other than wind and solar is a threat to humanity’s very existence. The choice should be clear: one path leads to freedom and plenty, while the other leads to tyranny, shortages, and high prices.
We can live in a country where bureaucrats decide when we can use our washers and dryers to save our poorly run infrastructure, or we can live in a country where we are free to do what we want.
We’re already years down the first path, and the Inflation Reduction Act will make it worse: it makes us even more reliant on unreliable electricity from wind and solar, raises taxes on oil and gas, gives the EPA almost unlimited power to limit fossil fuel use, and completely ignores nuclear.
It’s not too late to go in a better direction.
The wind, solar, batteries, and now “green” hydrogen path makes no sense because it is wildly expensive, will make electric grids even less reliable, and won’t change the weather or climate, which is why these trillions are being wasted. And worst of all it will limit our freedom to live the way we would like.
The time for pro-energy American policies is now.
Frank Lasee is the president of Truth in Energy and Climate. He is a former Wisconsin state senator and former member of Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. The district he represented had two nuclear power plants, a biomass plant, and numerous wind towers. He has experience dealing with energy, the environment, and the climate. See more from Frank at www.truthinenergyandclimate.com