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Who Needs Energy Independence? ^ | January 20, 2010 | John Stossel

Posted on 01/20/2010 6:04:23 AM PST by Kaslin

When you gas up your car, do you think that you're doing something evil? After all, I'm told that burning gasoline helps "murder the Earth," not to mention fills the coffers of terrorists and despots.

So we must move away from oil. Al Gore says, "The future of human civilization is at stake."

But I need the gas. I need to drive. I need electricity to light my home. What can I do? Is there an alternative? There is, I'm told.

"What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home? We have such fuels," Gore says.

"In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses."

In 10 years, he says, we can get all our electricity from these carbon-free sources.

Global warming hysteria is just one reason Gore and others push for alternative fuels. We're also told that America's goal should be energy independence. Today, we do buy oil from some very nasty people: dictators in Venezuela and the Middle East. What if they cut us off? That fear is one reason almost every president and presidential candidate -- from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama -- promised to end our "intolerable" reliance on oil imports.

When Nixon was president, we imported 25 percent of our oil. Since then, our "leaders" have wasted billions on subsidies for alternative energy. The result? Today we import nearly 70 percent of our oil.

Terrible as that sounds, I say, "So what?" Interdependence is just fine! And journalist Robert Bryce, author of "Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusion of Energy Independence," agrees. He'll be my guest on "Stossel" tomorrow night (Fox Business Network, 8 Eastern, and again Friday at 10).

Bryce points out that while Saudi Arabia and Iran are oil exporters, they are gasoline importers. "If even Saudi Arabia and Iran are energy interdependent, why wouldn't we be?" he says. "Energy interdependence" is just a way of saying "division of labor" and "comparative advantage."

Our biggest foreign oil suppliers are Canada and Mexico. Do they threaten us? Venezuela or Iran might, but they need the oil money. They would hurt themselves if they tried to cut us off.

Even if they did try, we'd still get their oil. All the world's oil ends up in the same bathtub. The dictator sells to someone who sells to someone who will then sell to us. Chasing energy "independence" is pointless. Free trade is better. It makes us richer and more secure.

Yet among those pushing for subsidies, along with Gore, is someone smart: oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens. He'll be a guest on my TV show, too.

You've probably seen Pickens in his television ads, saying: "I have a plan! We can unleash wind power to free up America's natural gas to power our big trucks and bus fleets. And save billions of American dollars."

But if we can save billions by using wind and natural gas, why do he, Vice President Gore and today's Congress need our tax dollars? If there is a good alternative to oil, it won't need subsidies. The free market will simply make it appear. Let the entrepreneurs compete.

Pickens' commercials say: "Over $700 billion are leaving this country for foreign nations every year. That's four times the cost of the Iraqi war. We need action."

But that's misleading. The $700 billion leave America for a reason. We get useful oil for the money. Trade is a win-win situation. There's no comparison with destructive war spending.

Pickens' website carries videos about how good government-subsidized windmills are for towns like Sweetwater, Texas.

Windmills may be great for Sweetwater, but that only looks at what's seen. What's unseen are all the people who are hurt because they are taxed to pay for Sweetwater's windmills. That money could have gone elsewhere. It's the broken-window fallacy identified by 19th-century French free-market economist Frederic Bastiat. Maybe Fox will let me break a window to make the point.

Pickens is wrong. We don't need government to choose which fuels to subsidize. The free market is the way to go.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: energy; johnstossel; oil; stossel

1 posted on 01/20/2010 6:04:23 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Chasing energy “independence” is pointless.

I would disagree with this. One can be independent and interdependent at the same time. Killing two birds with one stone. I also agree that windmills went out in the 20’s and 30’s except as well pumps, and they should have stayed out.

Had a trip through WY last week where I was privileged to observe literally hundreds of windmills sitting perfectly still. The generous subsidies are coming up for renewal and are getting a hard look. The windmill industry is running scared. They cannot be viable without subsidies, and when you consider the 35% efficiency, they never should have been given a second look. Now we have squandered billions, when we could have built a large number of power plants using coal oil or gas, and perhaps even had approval for some nuclear plants.

2 posted on 01/20/2010 6:21:08 AM PST by wita
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To: Kaslin
While Stossel's argument has free trade merit, there's also something to be said for employing Americans and keeping our dollars at home instead of in the "bathtub" where many hostile countries countries bathe regularly.

Energy independence does not necessarily mean wind mills and soalr panels alone.

3 posted on 01/20/2010 6:23:21 AM PST by DTogo (High time to bring back the Sons of Liberty !!)
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To: Kaslin

Windmills. *snort*

4 posted on 01/20/2010 6:28:32 AM PST by Dewey Revoltnow
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To: Dewey Revoltnow

Windmills have uglied up the landscape in Kansas along I-70 between Hays and Salina. Pisses me off. That used to be beautiful prairie scenery.

5 posted on 01/20/2010 6:30:06 AM PST by Dewey Revoltnow
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To: Kaslin

Mexico’s total oil production has been falling resulting in less crude oil to the US. This is expected to only get worse. They already dropped behind Saudi Arabia in US crude oil supplies.

Canada exports to the US are growing but are threatened by Carbon legislative proposals in both the US and Canadian governments.

Iran and Saudi Arabia along with other countries are building new and expanding their refineries, lowering their dependence on others and are planning to become net exporters of the more valuable refined products while also building up their chemical industry. Saudi will have much quicker and greater success. Iran has more financial struggles. Other OPEC nations are doing the same.

6 posted on 01/20/2010 6:30:57 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Dewey Revoltnow

Yes, but it’s your sacrifice for the good of the country. They don’t have to put up windmills at Martha’s Vineyard or Malibu now.

Thank you.

7 posted on 01/20/2010 7:38:00 AM PST by Skenderbej (People need to learn that no muhammadan practices his religion peacefully.)
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To: Kaslin

See this link... it gives an assessment of energy sources, and is devastating on the real value of wind in this regards.

WIND is all about making money NOW for the people putting the deals together and selling the equipment.

From an energy / grid standpoint - it is likely a scam.

8 posted on 01/20/2010 7:55:19 AM PST by muffaletaman
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To: DTogo

If a Saudi prince wants to gift some of his millions to a radical Imam preaching jihad, is that somehow a reflection on the American putting gasoline in his car or heating oil in his tank? No. We are wasting billions in low-density or inefficient energy substitutes because a lot of American voters have bought into this argument. The Saudi prince is completely responsible.

9 posted on 01/20/2010 8:06:08 AM PST by Tallguy ("The sh- t's chess, it ain't checkers!" -- Alonzo (Denzel Washington) in "Training Day")
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To: DTogo

If, instead of spending tax dollars on giant pin wheels, we allow people to spend their own money as they see fit, they will purchase more American products and services as well as foreign products, and if we employ Americans in the production of local oil resources, the additional oil in the market will lower the cost of oil, enable consumers to travel, and reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing and materials. This will lead to more employment of Americans.

10 posted on 01/20/2010 8:07:56 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (:: The government will do for health care what it did for real estate. ::)
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To: Jeff Chandler; Tallguy

My view of energy independence is “all of the above” with a focus on what’s most cost-effective first. More domestic drilling, refining, coal, nukes, nat gas, transmission, efficencies and renewables (where it makes sense/cents), etc. Agreed: employ American workers, companies, and equipment suppliers in doing so.

11 posted on 01/20/2010 10:23:10 AM PST by DTogo (High time to bring back the Sons of Liberty !!)
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