Point one: Solutions to fueling our nation's future
Bypassing partisanship with Zach and Trevor
After hearing countless debates and following up on several politicians' promises, seniors Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta and Trevor York have grown tired of discourse, deciding to settle America's arguments with compromise. In the first of an ongoing series, the two discuss the country's energy sources and any alternatives that they see as feasible.
Growing tired of increasing discourse in America, columnists Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta and Trevor York have decided to combine their efforts to discuss key issues the nation is currently facing. In this column, the two seniors will put aside their political differences, compromising for the better.
Energy: that one topic that always comes up during debates in which candidates typically try to choose a stance that pleases everyone. But let's be honest, you can't please everyone, as various environmental groups have pointed out to us. You could do green energy, except that windmills kill too many birds and wouldn't supply enough energy. There is hydropower, but that would result in ecological damage.
Well how about oil, that's pretty cheap. But environmentalists won't like that one bit, more drilling in America makes a majority of nature-loving people cringe. Obviously, you can't please everyone, however, there are steps that can be taken towards a more energy-efficient America.
Oil: America's eternal dilemma
The Keystone Pipeline has been one of the most controversial energy subjects in recent months. This conduit would transport oil sludge from Canada tar sands to Texas refineries, where it would then be sold on the world market.
This plan, of course, has its problems. First off, the pipeline would travel over the largest water aquifer in the United States. The Ogallala Aquifer provides water to eight states and there is a moderate chance that the Keystone Pipeline would pollute it.
In the past year, there have been two leaks from underground pipelines specifically. One leak was in the Kalamazoo river; this line leaked over 800,000 gallons of oil into the river. Another underground pipeline also leaked into some rivers in Canada as well -- this would have gone undetected if it had not been for a local citizen discovering it.
The pipeline has the potential to pollute water in eight states and there is also a realistic chance of this occurring. There are preventative measures that would use advanced technology, but these same measures failed during a spill in Canada last year. This is a setback, but isn't the pipeline still worth it? No. There is another horrible consequences that this "job-creating" pipeline could disturb: private property rights.
Since the pipeline would cut through the Midwest, many farmers would be forced to sell their land and move elsewhere, which could create large problems for a majority of people in the area.
"While green energy is the way of the future, the needs of today should not be sacrificed for the policies of tomorrow. We should obviously pursue alternative energy fervently, but we must also allow a transition period from oil." --Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta and Trevor York, '12
Yet some still say that the tradeoff is worth it. Republicans, for example, believe that, although the pipeline is hazardous, it would still create thousands of jobs.
So basically they are saying that harming the environment is worth it as long as jobs are created. If that's the case, then why doesn't the government get rid of all of it's environmental laws?
Think about it: without environmental laws, we could create so many more jobs. Of course, the sky would be grey most of the time and our rivers would be completely polluted, but, on the other hand, there would be jobs. So the tradeoff is worth it, right? Wrong.
It's not easy being green
While the Keystone Pipeline is clearly not the correct solution, something must be done to deal with America's energy situation in a responsible manner. Democratic politicians have proposed a robust increase in green energy in addition to tougher sanctions on offshore oil drilling.
While there may someday be an alternative energy source far superior and cleaner than oil, green energy subsidies do nothing to further this goal. First of all, if an energy source cannot survive in the free market without subsidies, then it will never become an effective solution to America's energy needs. Furthermore, once government aid runs out, green energy companies may be unable to continue their efforts and be forced to file for bankruptcy like Solyndra, a manufacturer of cylindrical panels of CIGS thin-film solar cells that had received millions of dollars from the federal government.
In addition to being a distortion of the free market, energy subsidies of any kind, whether it be ethanol or even oil, encourage corruption. Politicians could offer tax-payed subsidies to green energy companies who would then donate to their campaigns, making politicians dependent on special interests rather than the American people.
While caring for the environment and ensuring the efficient use of America's natural resources is certainly important, a massive, ineffective federal government is not the solution. The best resolution is to allow states to deal with energy subsidization, making it competitive. If Texas chose to subsidize oil while Massachusetts focused on solar power, Americans could simply move to the state whose policies they preferred.
Though both Diaz de la Cuesta and York agree that oil is not the key to America's future, they recognize that a period of relief is needed to fully switch to an alternative, or "green" energy.
As for specific green energies, one possible solution that is more widely used in Europe is nuclear power. While there is some danger to nuclear waste, it is still more environmentally-friendly than oil and more cost-efficient than wind or solar. By reducing the obscene amount of regulations, nuclear could someday replace oil as a superior free-market energy source. While there is nuclear waste, it is still more environmentally-friendly than the side effects of oil.
An important thing to keep in mind is that oil is still America's main energy provider. While it may not be the most environmentally-friendly energy, limiting local drilling would simply outsource oil production to countries like Nigeria that don't care about their environment. More specific safety policies should be placed on large oil companies to better prevent leakage.
Yet, the spirit of capitalism should not be hurt by these regulations. Consistency is the key factor in regulations; companies should have a set of policies that they know to be true and unchanging.
While green energy is the way of the future, the needs of today should not be sacrificed for the policies of tomorrow. We should obviously pursue alternative energy fervently, but we must also allow a transition period from oil.
For more columns, read the Feb. 9 article, Notable figures a trademark of Colligo Studio, or the Jan. 26 article, Mending a generation of mediocrity.