COGAN?STATION - Now is the best time in America's energy history. New reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show the United States now produces 84 percent of its energy needs right here at home while usage of renewables has surged upward by 49 percent since 2005. More good news shows overall emissions are down by 11 percent and projected to continue downward. Pair those numbers with the impressive rise in technological advancements in both energy extraction methods and transportation and we begin to see just how many opportunities are ripe for our taking - both domestically and internationally.
Though the numbers look promising and our energy future looks bright, America's coal production has decreased by 21 percent and our overall energy portfolio lacks balance and diversity.
Unfortunately the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the direction of the President, is much to blame. Their burdensome regulations contribute to the industry's decreases and prohibit growth in renewable energies as well; a sector that would create more even more jobs.
While the Obama Administration continues to suffer one foreign policy blunder after another, it is imperative we examine this issue holistically. America's energy policies should not benefit nations that routinely undermine international law, security or commerce (see China and Russia). Unquestionably the EPA's overreach does just that. New regulations will lower the price of coal in international markets thereby increasing China and Russia's ability to purchase and burn even more coal. This, of course, will allow them to do so without any sort of sensitivity toward the environment. So any potential environmental gains made here at home will be regrettably undone abroad.
Considering these negative impacts, we must shift our thinking more broadly to fully examine the international implications of our energy policies. Stagnation of coal mining in America has a ripple effect at home and overseas. These job-crushing impacts thwarts wage increases and investments in new technologies that help make coal cleaner and safer.
Meanwhile, our European counterparts have increased their usage of coal as Russia tightens its grip on their oil and gas accessibilities. America has vast and well-documented coal reserves projected to sustain our energy operations for decades. Our energy production should be an 'any and all' strategy. Exports should reflect world markets and favor countries that share our values and interests.
Plus, the world still produces 40% of its energy from coal. America has never been better positioned to unleash and stimulate a global energy revolution.
Opponents of this view will regurgitate familiar talking points and lob overly simplistic criticisms to stifle public debate. Congressional leaders need to shift the debate towards energy diversification. That means striving for balanced production outputs in coal, oil, natural gas, wind, wave, solar, geothermal and nuclear. The President's administration should champion these as part of a robust and comprehensive energy portfolio that is treated equally among bureaucratic agencies. It is not the job of the EPA to pick winners and losers. The private sector and adherence to free market principles will bring about the clean and diverse energy technologies America needs.
Still those same opponents will advocate increases in taxation as a way to spur investments in technology intended to make energy production cleaner and safer. Taxes never create jobs or provoke technological innovation; the free market does that.
We must work to create policies that create a friendlier environment for revenue generation that stimulates job creation which lowers consumer costs and increases affordability for low income workers and retirees. Considering this, I find it regrettable the President and his fellow Democrats in the House and Senate refuse to join my Republican counterparts in protecting free market principles. This Administration consistently assaults private businesses while driving a narrative that inaccurately portrays them as untrustworthy and solely profit driven. That portrayal is not only overgeneralized but entirely inaccurate. Pennsylvania in particular is a great state for energy producers and to suggest their motives are evil in nature is incongruent with the President's claims to the energy's sectors successes during his recent campaign. History has proved consistently that private enterprise will relentlessly compete for market advantage over competitors. Just because energy producers are deemed "dirty" by liberals does not means those producers will refrain from the pursuance of cleaner energies if provided with a flexible regulatory and economic framework. Now is the time to unleash energy business so they can create affordable, clean, safe and renewable energy resources for our communities.
America has an unprecedented abundance of economic opportunity within our reach. If we are to seize it then we must embrace all forms of energy. If we are to regain economic leverage over countries who threaten liberty and democratic systems then we must embrace every resource available to us. If we are to truly be good stewards of our great lands and waters then we must refrain from scoring political points with special interest groups and crony capitalists. If America is to once again realize this great blessing of abundance then we must reimagine our approach to energy production. If we are to lead the world by example then we should live that example - not talk about it.
Massive additions to the job market and increased quality in national and global security are obtainable. Americans must end this cycle of self-sabotage and embrace our almost certain prosperous future.
Republican Tom Marino represents Pennsylvania's 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Mifflin, Juniata, Snyder and Perry counties.