It seems all the talk about peak energy production is a bit premature, as the argument of abruptly declining fossil fuels is fizzling.
Recent discoveries of vast oil reserves in North America have exceed 1.7 trillion barrels, 1.4 trillion in the U.S. alone– which is more oil than the entire world has used in the last 150 years. In addition to this, we have 4,244 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. At the current rate of consumption, this is enough natural gas to power the U.S. for another 175 years. These reserves amount to a greater supply than Iran, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan combined. Then there is our current recoverable coal supply — a mere 497 billion tons, three times larger than Russia’s total reserves. Our coal alone could power the U.S. for another 500 years.
So why exactly is our federal government thwarting every effort to develop complete independence on foreign fuels? Why are we not tapping into the huge reserves that exist in own country or just off our shores?
In the fall of 1970, during the Nixon administration, we saw the creation of a small seemingly innocuous watchdog group established by congress called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA. It sprang forth from the efforts of the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, (D-Wisc.) who grew up imbued with New Deal liberalism. While a senator, he helped start the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 as a purported effort to save our environment from pollution.
The impact the EPA has had on the development of our oil reserves has been nothing short of a disaster. It has frequently stifled growth by creating insurmountable obstacles for businesses and pitted many people with legitimate concerns for our environment against energy developing companies.
The cause for many untimely delays in drilling permits is due largely to the unnecessary and burdensome government regulations imposed in part by the EPA. We currently have offshore oil reserves still blocked by outdated moratoriums that have still not been changed. Oil companies are obliged to negotiate a labyrinth of complex laws that are imposed by regulators who are practically free to impose new rules with little to no restrictions from Congress. The end result is that a miniscule 6 percent of America’s onshore energy reserves are currently being developed.
The EPA has imposed, for example, its “final proposed” Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules that have severely impacted coal-fired power plants in the U.S. They claim they will save in excess of $60 billion in annual health benefits while preventing thousands of premature deaths annually by reducing airborne mercury emissions. This was done with flawed data and imposed for a paltry $11 billion in compliance costs that will only be passed on to the consumer.
In an article, “The Myth of Killer Mercury,” Dr. Willie Soon and Paul Driessen * point out that less than half of one percent of airborne mercury in the U.S. comes from coal-fired power plants. If the EPA’s new MACT regulations are 100 percent successful, that will result in a whopping 0.45 percent reduction of airborne mercury. This still leaves 99.55 percent of the airborne mercury floating around. The remainder comes largely from natural sources such as forest fires, the cremation of human remains with mercury in fillings and, of course, one of the greatest violators of environmental stewardship — Chinese power plants. Just what had the EPA hoped to accomplish with such stringent regulations when the data clearly showed it would be practically useless?
This liberal agenda is well documented in a short You Tube video where California Democrat Representative Maxine Waters shows her true intention while questioning John Hofmeister from Shell Oil Company during a Congressional hearing.
The result of these unnecessarily strict regulations has caused the loss of jobs, increases in electric and fuel costs and little measurable impact on the environment. No one can turn a blind eye to the great damage done through pollution by many industries, however, the EPA provides a false solution to a real problem and is nothing more than part and parcel of the liberal Socialist agenda in our country that only results in stifling free enterprise by imposing suffocating government regulations.
* HACER Weekly News, June 10, 2011.