How the United States can become energy independent
It’s no secret that the United States’ key to energy independence lies in its need to break away from a fossil-fuel based economy.
Why should wars be fought over raw fuel sources when energy can be derived much closer to home with little conflict? And, why should carbon emissions from fossil fuels push the world much more quickly toward the brink of climate change?
The need to find alternative energy sources immediately is staring us in the face. Some leaders have seen this as in California where the state Air Resources Board, because of a law known as AB32, is developing a plan to force polluters to drastically cut carbon emissions or pay for credits to emit them. The Obama administration is in favor of such a plan on a national scale.
It’s not as easy as it may sound since industrial interests claim such measures will cripple a country already in the throes of a deep recession.
However, if the economy is truly stimulated and plans are realized for many more “green” jobs, the needs of the economy and environment could be met.
Like the need to boost the economy after all the fiscal chaos during the past year, the need to switch to alternative fuels has been apparent. Just look at what happened in the 2008 energy crisis.
Last year’s spiraling petroleum prices, the significant drop in gasoline use brought on by fewer drivers on the road and subsequent drop in fuel prices shows how volatile the situation is. The demand for fuel was high. So, the price soared. When consumers could not pay for near $5-per-gallon gas, they cut their use sharply. What was left was a more than $2 drop in price, a lot more public-transit use and fewer recreational car rides. Telecomuting became much more popular. Hybrid-fuel car sales surged.
What can be learned from that most recent sequence of events is that use of alternative forms of energy can affect the overall price of fuel. This is nothing new: Solar energy has been around for decades; wind power for use in homes and industry is common in Europe and is growing in this country; and ethanol can be produced without using edible food products.
None of these sources alone can make the United States energy independent. It will take a combined effort.
Some advocates of coal and nuclear power argue that their sources of energy must be included in the equation. But they want the public to ignore two facts: Nuclear waste can only be disposed of at a multimillion-dollar cost and even with new technology, coal still emits too much carbon pollution.
While the United States lags behind in wind power use and is trying to make sure ethanol won’t use up edible crops, technology is growing quickly in the 40-year-old field of solar photovolatics.
For example, a recent CNET article profiled MIT professor Emmanuel Sachs who is helping bring down the cost of solar panels that could be used in homes, which now cost between $20,000 and $35,000.
This is a perfect example of how the United State can achieve energy independence.