Regardless of how much wind and solar energy is produced for electricity, the U.S. will continue to import millions of barrels of oil per day to power our cars, trucks, and planes for the foreseeable future. So far, electric cars have barely even gained a foothold. Neither Nissan nor GM could even hit their goals of selling 10,000 electric cars in 2011. Given that the average age of the 240.5 million cars and light trucks being driven in the U.S. is 10.8 years, wind and solar will not be meaningful transportation fuels until the 2020's at best.
Developing clean energy will barely make a dent in America's dependence on imported oil from unreliable sources. Supply concerns inflating the price will be a major factor in the price of gasoline going over $4 a gallon once again this spring after refineries switch over to summer formulations.
While there is no question that clean energy is preferable to burning fossil fuels, its potential is often wildly over stated by environmentalist. Gail Tverberg provides a summary of the Obstacles Facing U.S. Wind Energy
Blocking oil project development is hindering job growth. As reported by The Olympian,
a study by Wood Mackenzie, an energy consulting firm, found that U.S. policies that encourage the development of new and existing resources could, by 2018, increase domestic oil and gas production by millions of barrels a day and support a million new jobs. Another study, by IHS Global Insight, estimates that returning permitting approvals to their historic levels before the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would generate 230,000 jobs in 2012. And these are mainly blue-collar jobs that could make a huge difference for millions of American households.
Continuing to pursue policies that slow down the issuance of leases and drilling permits, increase the cost of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas and delay the construction of oil sands pipelines are having a detrimental effect on jobs. If these obstacles are not addressed, we’ll be missing out on creating the millions of jobs needed to bring the economy back to pre-recession employment levels.
The environmental benefits of halting oil projects, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, are often wildly overstated. In particular, claims that energy investments should be focused on wind and solar ignore the fact that oil is required to power 99% of cars, light trucks, and planes. At least for the remainder of this decade, clean energy is not a substitute for oil. Touting the benefits of clean energy is not a logical rationale for halting the development of oil projects.
The efforts of environmentalist to reduce the supply of oil available via North American sources is more economically damaging than environmentally beneficial. The efforts of the greens would be more productive if they focused more effort upon educating consumers on reducing demand, and stopped spouting propaganda that suggests clean energy is a substitute for oil.
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