Newsletter June 16, 2010
Greatest threat to "green" energy is Big Government
In his speech from the Oval Office last night, President Obama emphasized the need to transition to alternative forms of energy and away from our dependence on fossil fuels.
The President noted: “Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.”
That’s a bold statement, and unfortunately, it is also a little misleading. With the tragic and ongoing disaster in the Gulf as a backdrop, it is clear the President and his advisors want you to draw the conclusion that oil industry executives and their allies in Washington are standing in the way of alternative energy.
That’s a very compelling political argument, but it is not accurate. Let me share a few facts to illustrate this point.
The federal government is the largest land owner in the United States with over 650 million acres, and it controls much of the western United States. Some of the richest areas of renewable energy potential reside on these lands. This includes 90 percent of all geothermal energy potential, and vast areas of solar, wind and biomass potential. If the federal government wants to jumpstart renewable energy in the country, no one is standing in the way but itself.
- Despite the State of California setting an ambitious goal of producing a third of its power from renewable energy resources by 2020, a United States Senator from that state is now actively working to block the development of solar power in the Mojave Desert. Joining with environmental activists, the senator is pushing for Congress to reclassify the land as wilderness or as a national monument to block solar energy development in perpetuity. In a letter of protest to the Department of the Interior, this senator said: "I urge you to direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to suspend any further consideration of leases to develop former railroad lands for renewable energy or for any other purpose."
- In 2009, the United States Congress responded to the demands of environmental defense lobbyists and placed 2 million acres of federal land off limits to any form of energy development. The large amount of lands included in the package and its new land designations prompted a leading environmental lobby group to note: “The scope of the bill cannot be overstated.” This brings the federal government’s total blockade to 109 million acres.
- During consideration of the 2009 legislation, it was well known that the legislation would block access to major sources of fossil fuels, including access to 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Wyoming alone. Realizing that the Senate was intent on restricting access to fossil fuels, I offered an amendment that would have preserved access to renewable energy on these 2 million acres of land. My amendment read: “nothing in this Act shall restrict the development of renewable energy on public land, including geothermal, solar, and wind energy and related transmission infrastructure.” The amendment was killed by a vote of 65-33.
I could give a dozen more examples. Over the past five and half years, the greatest threat to the development of renewable energy has not been Big Oil, but rather Big Government.
In The News
“Tax, Spill, and Spend”
Dr. Coburn appears on CNBC’s Kudlow Report to Discuss President Obama’s address to the nation, tax policy, and Washington’s spending addiction. Watch here.
“Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn criticizes Obama health care rule”
“New rules proposed by the administration Monday could mean up to 127 million people in private plans could lose them, Coburn, R-Muskogee, said.” Read more:
As the largest land owner in the United States, the federal government owns and controls nearly 1 of every 3 acres in the United States, including the majority of land in the following states: Nevada (85%), Alaska (69%), Utah (58%), Oregon, (53%), and Idaho (50%). Arizona (48%), Wyoming (42%), Colorado (37%), Montanan (30%), California (45%), New Mexico (42%), and Washington (30%) are also significantly dominated by federal land ownership.