August 18, 2022

The United States Should Put More Faith In Energy Innovators Than In Regulators.

4 min read
The United States Should Put More Faith In Energy Innovators Than In Regulators.

The recent West Virginia v. EPA decision by the Supreme Court is seen by many progressive climate campaigners as a significant defeat for the cause. But the real problem is that energy and climate policy is too often established by the executive branch. To enable the private sector to satisfy the energy and environmental needs of the American people, congressional leadership is required.

High gas prices and energy costs are at the top of most Americans’ thoughts right now. Energy expenses have increased by about 35% from a year ago, primarily due to higher oil prices. As a result, many families, especially low-income ones, experience money constraints. Nearly 24 percent of Americans skipped paying for necessities like food and medicine to pay an energy bill, and about one in six Americans struggled at least once to pay their energy payment.

To be clear, President Biden’s actions are not the only cause of the current energy problem. Massive energy supply and demand imbalances brought on by the epidemic led to price changes that occurred considerably faster than the market could adjust. Additionally, there is a genuine price premium brought on by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.The United States Should Put More Faith In Energy Innovators Than In Regulators.

However, rather than calling the fire department, Biden added fuel to the fire by halting the Keystone XL pipeline, temporarily banning oil and gas lease sales on federal lands, and announcing climate restrictions at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Additionally, the policies of the Biden administration are flawed for broader, systemic reasons that contribute to America’s dysfunctional energy and climate policies. Our elected authorities have given unaccountable, non-elected agency officials far too much power. Regulatory ping-pong has been used to influence major decisions that have an impact on energy investment for all types of resources and technology.

The pen and phone strategy for energy and environmental policy has not been very successful for either party. Lawyers and lobbyists are kept busy by the administrative state’s cyclical shifts in direction every four to eight years, but businesses find it challenging to plan, invest, and develop.

Not only has excessive dependence on the executive branch been ineffective, but a well-intended delegation of authority with ambiguous guidelines and inconsistent enforcement has frequently stymied advancement in the economy and environment.

Energy affordability, emissions reduction, and climate resilience have frequently suffered from an overburdening regulatory state. The “not in my back yard” movement, regulatory stalemate, and drawn-out legal battles all cause delays in or outright obstruction of resource extraction, energy infrastructure, and renewable energy projects. The Department of Energy estimates that it takes 7.6 years on average to relicense a hydroelectric facility. That is longer than it takes to renew a nuclear plant’s license or acquire a new hydro license.The United States Should Put More Faith In Energy Innovators Than In Regulators.

53 utility-scale wind, solar, and geothermal projects were developed between 2008 and 2021, according to a report published in the journal Energy Policy in June 2022. According to the study, 79 percent of the projects encountered at least two opponents, 34 percent encountered significant delays and difficulties obtaining permits, 49 percent had their plans permanently abandoned, and 26 percent had their work resumed after being put on hold for several months or years.

Furthermore, when authorities are resistant to change, it is difficult to adjust to changing circumstances. Consider the Nebraskan Offutt Air Force Base as an illustration. The flooding at the base in March 2019 was covered in a report. “Approval for the levee construction was hindered by many regulations from the Army Corps of Engineers that took six years to navigate,” the base wrote, “despite the fact that the base knew flooding was a problem when water came close to the base’s runway eight years earlier.”

When you are unable to construct, how do you rebuild better?

Consumers and environmental campaigners should both be frustrated by barriers to energy investment and development. We must construct more quickly and more clearly if we are to take meaningful climate action. Costs will continue to decline and the adoption of emissions-free technologies will advance at a faster rate if inventors are given more freedom than regulators. Since developing nations would be responsible for the majority of present and future emissions, America’s comparative advantage should be in how to innovate and offer cheaper greener options.

It will take considerable resolve from Congress to alter the current situation. Congress should reclaim its own sense of agency rather than delegating decision-making to agencies. While maintaining environmental protections and public involvement, modernizing permitting should create a more dependable, effective procedure for managing our woods, erecting solar panels, and developing more climate-resilient infrastructure. Importantly, legal change that liberalizes markets and updates outdated laws would give people and companies more inexpensive, dependable power.

As some detractors have suggested, rethinking energy and climate policy is not “anti-government.” Instead, it entails making sure that the significant sum of money the Department of Energy already invests in R&D and deployment is wisely spent while placing less reliance on regulators and more faith in innovators.

The West Virginia v. EPA case should serve as a reminder that Congress needs to establish its power once again and provide the groundwork for innovative solutions to both our energy demands and the threat of climate change.

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