Over-Priced Utilities

Energy prices have never been higher in America than they are today. Energy costs for the average consumer have surged, nationwide. Most states are experiencing double digit price increases, even when inflation is taken into account. The only time in American history when energy costs have been nearly as high as they are now was during the 1973 OPEC oil embargo and the 1979 oil crisis following the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, both of which resulted in significant oil shortages. It would be reasonable to assume with energy costs so high now that we are experiencing another shortage, that there is not enough energy to go around. However, this is not the case – we in fact have a glut of energy from a wide variety of sources. Why on earth are energy prices so high?

One of the basic tenets of economics is that value is determined by the relative levels of supply and demand. Demand here in the US is dropping, and we are producing more oil than ever, but yet consumers are still paying record high prices for energy. And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that we are also producing more natural gas than ever, developing more and more sustainable energy options like hydro and wind power, and still running many nuclear reactors. America is awash in energy. By all rights, consumers should be enjoying record low energy costs.

Part of the problem is that there is significantly more international demand for gasoline than there has been in the past. China and India in particular are purchasing far more gasoline than they ever have, as they modernize and grow their economies. American oil companies remove oil from American land, and then force American consumers to compete with foreigners for access to our own oil. This drives the price up for everyone, so instead of achieving the energy independence we have been fighting for, we end up selling our oil to China while we keep buying oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.

America is also rich in coal. For many years, coal has fallen out of favor as an energy source, but with modern technology, coal has become a much cleaner fuel. While it releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide at comparable rates to oil, it can now be burned much cleaner, without the contaminants that in past decades contributed to air pollution and acid rain. However, instead of taking advantage of this abundant resource, coal plants are shutting down throughout the nation because their owners do not want to pay to upgrade the plants to be cleaner and more energy efficient.

Similarly, America has more expertise in nuclear power than any other nation in the world. While other countries are rushing to build more nuclear plants to benefit from the cheap electricity, we are decommissioning our plants. The government constantly refers to the goal of making sure America is energy independent, meaning that we can ourselves produce all the energy we need, but the government continually pursues policies that will make that goal more and more difficult to reach.

We need a government that will aggressively pursue energy independence and drive down the cost of energy for consumers. At the same time, we need to do as much as we can to pursue policies that will reduce the environmental impact of our energy needs by investing in greener energy sources. Our leaders have failed us by refusing to address our skyrocketing energy costs, and have failed future generations by refusing to reduce the environmental effects of our energy use. If you believe that we need leadership that understands the importance of energy, then join me and cast your write in vote for Art Drew for President in 2016.