Why the U.S. Government Must Be Involved in Energy Policy

by: Michael Fitzsimmons

Today there is a common misperception in America that government involvement in anything is “bad”. This is incorrect. The energy challenges facing the United States today require government involvement in terms of policy and funding. Energy self-reliance is an economic, national security, and environmental imperative.

In US history the government has been very successfully involved in many very large initiatives:

  • the cross country telegraph
  • the cross country railroads
  • the mission to land a man on the moon
  • the rural electric cooperatives and the REA
  • the interstate highway system

At the time, each of these projects was controversial and the cost and involvement of the government was questioned. Yet the cross country telegraph not only brought increased productivity via better communication, but also addressed national security concerns. So too the railroads. Kennedy’s mission to put a man on the moon yielded huge advances in low power electronics, computer technology, and communications. The rural electric projects not only provided comfort to rural citizens, but opened up large areas of the country to economic prosperity and increased production. Eisenhower’s interstate highway system solved transportation, economic and national security issues. All these initiatives cost federal tax payer money. Yet all these initiatives provided good paying jobs and have been paying dividends back to the US tax payers for decades.

The US has 5% of the world’s population and uses 25% of the world’s oil production. The US military alone uses 1% of worldwide oil production. At the same time, the US imports 70% of its oil requirements from unfriendly countries like Venezuela, Russia, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. This is enriching our enemies, funding both sides of the war on terror, and bankrupting our country.

Given the successful examples of government involvement, the dire realities of foreign oil dependency, and the current economic situation, US government involvement to retrofit and re-engineer our energy infrastructure is not only proper, necessary, and economically viable, but it is ultimately a matter of economic, national security, and environmental survival. I would even contend that this is necessary for the US to remain a democratically self governed country.

Speed is of the essence. Private sources of funding are not only unavailable but inadequate. The government’s BLM is the largest landowner in the country. On the land, owned by US citizens, lie huge reserves of wind, solar, natural gas, and oil energy. Only the government is in a position to declare eminent domain in order to quickly and legally build the transmission line infrastructure necessary to transmit wind and solar energy from source to consumer.

Instead of being scared of government intervention on energy projects, American citizens should instead be demanding government policy and funding prioritize:

    • building out wind and solar energy generation
    • building NGVs and natural gas/ electric hybrids
    • building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower-48
    • building out the electric grid infrastructure
    • battery research, development, and manufacturing technology
    • wind and solar energy storage technology

These programs will create good jobs, revive the economy, and create an energy infrastructure that will pay dividends for decades to come. The country will be more secure, more competitive, and remain free. Government involvement in energy policy and funding is required. Only by solving the country’s energy challenges will the US equity markets once again flourish and rationalize long term investment.