Thursday, January 2, 2014

How conservative politics can help solve the energy question

Did a conservative politician just come to the table with a promising energy strategy? One that allows for both green and fossil fuels? Perhaps. Bob Inglis, who claims to represent "the reddest district in the reddest state of the nation" seems to have a plan that just might work. Inglis, a member of the Energy and Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank which claims to be a:
Campaign for Free-Enterprise
Campaign for Liberty
Campaign for Limited Government

Sounds pretty typical for a libertarian group, limit government and encourage a free market (which tends to not end well with energy). But with technology making the strides it has in recent years, their plan is starting to make sense.
The Reddest District of the Reddest State

The Plan

Inglis recently gave a TEDx talk in Jacksonville in which he outlined the key steps that he and the members of the Energy and Enterprise Institute believe would make for an effective energy future while limiting climate impact.

For those who choose not to watch, the plan of action can be summed up as:

  • Eliminates all subsidies for all fuels;
  • Attach all costs to all fuels; and
  • Ensures revenue neutrality to prevent the growth of government
  • Eliminate the EPA

While banning the EPA entirely seems irresponsible, the knee-jerk reaction to those involved in the energy debate might be an angry one. One would think that this is simply another oil-backed politician trying to make life more difficult for other forms of energy. But before the comments sections flare, let's take a look at the facts.


According to Bloomberg's Financial News, the governments worldwide appropriated approximately $45 billion for renewable energy. That number alone sounds insane, and could make for some great anti-renewable propaganda. But before attacking, let's play devil's advocate and ask if fossil fuels receive subsidies. The answer is yes, and according to the International Energy Agency, an autonomous organization of 28 developed nations, fossil fuels received approximately $410 billion in subsidies. An even more staggering number. But upon crunching some of the numbers, we see that these subsidies don't play favorite all that much.

Renewable receive roughly one-tenth the subsidies of fossil fuels because they represents roughly one-tenth of the United States' fuel sources (Institute for Energy Resource).

The discussion of the EPA could be left to an entire college course, but for starters, here are a few talking points to get the conversation started.

Inglis' support for policies addressing climate change costed him his seat on Capitol Hill in 2010, which he formed after spending time in Antarctica meeting and leraning with climate scientists there. A true shame too; Inglis appears to be a truly responsible and honest politician, something that D.C. can't seem to produce anymore.

Related: Warren Buffet making his voice heard with renewable energy

No one doubts that Warren Buffet is one of, if not the, greatest investors of all time. And as we learned in our basic economics classes, the best way to vote is to vote with your wallet. Given this, it may come as a surprise that Buffet recently invested $1 billion in wind turbines to be developed and used in Iowa, where wind is on the verge of becoming entirely profitable without subsidy. Buffet's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. is taking advantage of the natural resources in Iowa (read: flat land with nothing to block the wind) and improvements in technology made by Siemens and GE in one of the largest ever purchases of wind turbines, nearly 1000MW.

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