CNN Money Says Energy Independence Sucks

As everyone knows, in the future, we shall all ride in automatic go-karts powered by our own sense of self-satisfaction. But in the meantime, there’s quite a bit of hub-bub about America becoming “energy independent”. Justin Fox over at CNN Money examines whether or not this is a good thing, and makes some salient, if a tad obvious, points:

Investing in R&D and handing out scholarships for science and engineering students are good things, mind you, and many of those calling for energy independence are driven by similarly wholesome motives. But I’m a big believer that words count, and the words “energy independence” are potentially disastrous ones.

To put it most starkly: We could have energy independence tomorrow if Congress simply slapped a huge tariff on energy imports (would $250 per barrel of oil do it?). Meanwhile, skyrocketing fuel prices would shift the economy into reverse, throw tens of millions of Americans out of work, and what oil and natural gas we have left under our territory would be rapidly depleted.

Largely, his point is that “energy independence”, strictly speaking, can be attained easily by much higher taxes on oil or by switching over to America’s less clean resources such as coal. What Justin cautions is that we don’t really want energy independence… what we want is economically optimal energy. It’s an interesting clarification on a moist buzz word being tossed willy-nilly about.

Link: Energy Independence Is A Disaster In The Making over at CNN Money.

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  1. Andrew W says:

    Good clarification, if sillily put. Energy independence isn’t a virtue if it simply replaces one very high cost with another. The goal is to have a source of energy not dependent upon calamitous things like high taxes, radical protectionism, or warfare in Islamic countries.

    I’m very much looking forward to future posts on self-satisfaction-powered go-karts. Yes please.

  2. mrscolex says:

    Quaint, but it’s sidestepping the issue of the ultimate endgame: an economically justifiable means for the largest country in the world to self-sustain its own energy needs.

    Energy is the Achilles heel of the American economy, and as citizens we had to have our cages rattled before the government really started even attempting to listen. Ironically, it wasn’t that long ago that truckers were pulling strikes across the country for gas prices that are exactly the same as they are now. Nothing like slapping 3 dollars a gallon to make you “appreciate” 2 dollars a gallon, now we’re all used to it. The gas companies subtly win.

  3. ValkRaider says:

    No.

    I *want” energy independence. No matter what the cost.

    Initially, it would be drastic – yes. But the increased costs and reduced supplies would force technology advances and behavior changes that would be substantially more beneficial over time than the initial shock we would suffer at first.

    We have to wean ourselves off of energy addiction. High prices will do that.

  4. CTSLICK says:

    So why can’t alternative fuels like E85 be pushed to the forefront. Oh yeah, I remember…the oil companies can’t make money off of it.

  5. OkiMike says:

    Why does the tariff have to be slapped on immediately? It could come over a period of a year while the current Administration released all of the “alternative energy” researchers from that dank, dark room in the basement of the White House where they are being held prisoners.

  6. Mr. Moto says:

    CTSLIK – The main problem with E85 is it will increase in the cost of corn dogs at the fair.