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.