Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All of the above

Oil, natural gas, and wind energy baron T. Boone Pickens testified today to the U.S. Senate on moving from foreign sources of oil to, well, natural gas and wind energy. We are certainly too dependent on oil from unfriendly nations, and renewable energy should be pursued and used where it makes sense, but some of Pickens' testimony caused me to pause.

"I have to think in 10 years, the demand for oil — because the price now is going up — in 10 years, you're going to have $300 oil. Maybe higher, I don't know," said Pickens, as quoted by Fox News.

Unless the law of supply and demand is repealed (which the government regularly attempts to do with taxes and subsidies), isn't there a point at which the demand for oil will eventually hit a peak and decline, stabilizing the price of oil? Of course, with the government and environmental groups restricting the oil supply with a moratorium on both oil exploration and construction of refineries and pipelines, I suppose that the market price for oil could settle at $300 a barrel, even with reduced demand. And with mandates for seasonal, "boutique" blends of gasoline, corn ethanol subsidies, and ever-higher gas taxes, government is exacerbating the rising prices at the retail level.

Either way, at this point government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem. As Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-6) suggested on her recent trip to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, America needs an "all of the above" approach to solving its energy challenges: environmentally-responsible domestic exploration and production of fossil fuels, nuclear power, conservation, and research into renewable energy. The quickest way toward energy independence is for government to get out of the way and let private industry and free markets work.

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