Around the world, nearly a billion people still don’t have access to electricity.
Though we take it for granted in the United States, energy isn’t a readily accessible luxury across the planet. It’s essential for clean water, modern medical care, refrigeration, transporting goods, and cooking without resorting to burning harmful chemicals indoors. It makes educating our children, conducting business, and heating and cooling our homes easier than ever before.
Nearly every activity essential to modern life depends on reliable energy. It has fueled more than 150 years of unprecedented human progress. Maintaining improvements in global health, wealth and prosperity should be the driving force behind our national energy policy.
However, both sides of the aisle have now released so-called “Green Deals.” These competing public relations documents do not serve the American people and ignore the debate we should be having.
That’s why solutions like President Trump’s new executive orders supporting American energy are so refreshing.
The question facing our nation, after all, is not how to combat the laughable and unscientific assertion that the world will end in the next decade (or even two or three). And even if some politicians believe that, they don’t remotely have a plan to replace 80% of all the power we use, the percentage that comes from fossil fuels, in that time frame.
The real question is how we ensure the developed world continues to benefit from affordable and reliable energy, and how we help electrify underdeveloped populations so that they may too experience the same level of human progress and prosperity the rest of us enjoy.
It is the United States, after all, that has dramatically escalated access, development, and use of all energy sources, particularly fossil fuels, and still maintains the safest air in the world. Yes, we can do both.
The president’s new executive orders get the ball rolling by securing and expanding America’s energy dominance. They remove ineffective and unnecessary barriers for existing operations and new infrastructure projects while prioritizing safety, responsible environmental stewardship, American job creation, and economic growth.
These measures mean the American people will benefit from lower energy costs, more good-paying jobs, and less dependence on energy that comes from dangerous parts of the world.
Over the last 15 years, the United States’ petroleum trade deficit, the balance of imports to exports, has declined by $350 billion. That’s billions of dollars remaining in the United States, bolstering our economy, instead of going overseas to unstable and hostile nations — and we’re on track to become a net energy exporter next year.
More can be done to keep America on the path to energy dominance. Rather than engage in tit-for-tat fights over “Green Deals” that seek to limit access to reliable energy, Congress can update and reform laws that make expanding our energy access unnecessarily more difficult.
It can start by ensuring the Endangered Species Act can no longer be abused to shut down responsible exploration. Congress should phase out the Renewable Fuel Standard that distorts the market for energy, and it should return power to the states where local agencies and officials are better suited to oversee land use.
Energy has fueled America’s greatest achievements: unparalleled economic growth, technological and medical advancements, increasing life expectancy and public health, art and literature, and more.
All this would not have been possible without efficient energy and electricity. Willfully limiting our energy supply through unattainable pipe dreams like renewable mandates do nothing to improve our quality of life, and could, in fact, move us backwards.
Even in Texas, which has the country’s most competitive and best-run energy market, grid operators are warning that this summer’s reserve margin – the difference between what consumers demand and what can be produced – could be at perilously low levels.
Our nation is fortunate that President Trump is willing to forego political correctness and buck the system. His support for the energy we all depend on to survive and thrive shows he understands the real world we live in, not the fantasy land envisioned by “Green Deals.”
The United States has always been a leader in energy development, efficiency, and innovation. Politicians who cave to the environmental Left’s climate change narrative miss the simple reality that economic freedom and access to affordable, reliable energy are what we need to spread prosperity, reduce poverty, and improve the human condition.
Having access to the energy we need is a much better deal.
This commentary originally appeared in RealClearEnergy on April 18, 2019.
The Honorable Jason Isaac is Senior Manager and Distinguished Fellow for Life:Powered. He previously served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.