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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Guest OP:ED - Energy Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect

            Energy is on the minds of all the people right now. High Gas Prices seems to be the one topic that is hard to understand.  Some people blame the Oil companies for obsession profits.  The issue is actually very broad. Many factors affect the cost of Gas Prices.  The increase in Fuel prices affects many different parts of the economy.  So what are the real facts?

                Total Energy consumption in the US has increased over the past few years.  Currently Crude oil production in the US has dropped since 2004 by 320,000 Barrels per Day.  This means that increase needs of energy usage will have to be made up by foreign sources.  The good news between 2004 and 2007 we have lowered our use of Petroleum by 30,000 Barrels per day.   During this time frame the cost per barrel of Petroleum has doubled. Renewable energy has increased but has not kept pace with the increase in Energy Usage.  To see the numbers look at the link for Energy Consumption.

                Nuclear power to provide Electricity has some interesting problems. Nuclear Power in the USA  Talks about 21% of electricity was from Nuclear Power Back in 1996. Currently our energy needs have increased so the share of power from Nuclear power has dropped to 19.4%.  Extended reactor lifetimes from 40 years to 60 years Means we can still get power from our aging Nuclear Power Plants.  Increased Power Plant Utilization our capacity has been increasing not due to more plants but due to Capacity increased as systems are more efficient.  But we cannot continue to run these plants.  Replacements will eventually be needed.  104 Reactorsprovide ~20% of our electrical energy needs.

                As Demands for Energy Consumption increase we see two areas where supply from inside the USA have decreased or will decrease in the coming years.  Our Government regulations are affecting both of these declines. Congress has prevented any oil exploration in large areas known to have oil. Democrats keep blocking drilling off shore or ANWAR. So we will see decline in Oil production inside the Continental USA. The only bright side is North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana have commenced drilling there oil.   These lands are not controlled by the Federal Government.  Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has introduced a bill in Congress that would prevent oil and gas drilling on 1.2 million acres in the Wyoming Range.   This is taking place when identifying a large area that has oil production range that goes from Canada into South Dakota.  Lots of drilling is taking place in Wyoming but preventing any explorations in over a Million acres does not help meet our energy needs. 

                Economy is hurt by the rising costs for energy.  As we spend more money to fuel our cars means fewer purchases in other areas of the Economy. It affects jobs. Why has the number of jobs in the US dropped?  We are seeing the affect as a slowing economy. Slowing due to less money available as Energy needs increase a bigger bite out of the pocket books.  This has cause higher costs for bringing food to the local Food Chains. These costs cause the cost of Food and Other daily needs to also increase.  This also takes a bigger bite out of our personal budgets.  This will cause a loss of tax revenue to local and Federal levels.  As demands for even more money for growing all levels of Government means there is a demand for higher taxes, which in turn will cause the economy to further slow because the consumers have less money to pay for other than basic necessities.   Congress wants to increase taxes on the oil companies.  This will cause increase in costs for Gas which will further slow the economy.  The Cause and Effect more taxes less money for the oil companies have available for drilling and exploration.  Making it more expensive and take longer to find new oil supplies. This may also stop drilling for Oil in the US because of the higher taxes. Companies have to make a profit. And if it is cheaper to drill in other countries what is the incentive to drill in the US.

                Immigration is another factor. Why do we have so many illegal aliens within this country? Some Estimates say 12 Million yet other estimates say it could be as high as 20 Million. Who knows for sure? If we make them all Citizens and they are allowed to bring in their extended Families does that mean to our energy needs if we add nearly 100 million more people to our population.  That is a very large influx of people into the US and would have a devastating effect on our infrastructure. Not only straining our Energy needs but government programs to help low income people.  This will also mean demands for more tax dollars. The economy could not handle such a large change in Population and people will be fighting for use the scarce energy availability. The same government officials that block energy independents also want unlimited immigration.  Does that make sense?  We need to use less energy yet we want to greatly increase the Population a total mixture that can be a disaster to our economy and our current standard of living.

                Government actions to prevent energy independence because of special interests will continue to cause the standard of living to drop.  I found one site very interesting on what thecost for energy has done in the past 28 years a number of good charts covering energy usage and availability.  It is an eye opener.  Consumption and Availability of energy needs past and future has a very bleak view.  And the more regulations move more jobs overseas.  Why do we not build and develop energy needs here in the US.  It means more jobs for Americans. The US Government needs to fight for more exploration, more development and Building Nuclear power plants. Each Nuclear power plant built could mean less coal burning to provide Electricity. Which is better burn coal or use Nuclear power that has no CO2 production?  What is the future you want for this country?  We have to start today to supply needs of the future.  

Alternative energy supplies are not efficient nor will they pick up the energy shortages that we face in the next few decades. Unless you want to start taking national forests property to cut down the trees in hundreds of square miles to build wind and solar power plants to just replace our current nuclear power plants.  So do you want 33 square miles for solar panels to replace one Nuclear power plant?  Cause and effect demands of various groups keep things in a grid lock.  Where will we be in 10 years if the current lack of real energy reform continues to happen? Cost of basic energy needs will continue to grow every year taking a large bit out each families budget.



Bellevue, WA