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Guest Commentary / November 23, 2022

Neglected Infrastructure and Worshipping the Golden Calf

The prosperity that the U.S. has enjoyed will be seriously diminished by the skyrocketing cost of energy.

By Mark W. Fowler

There has not been a major petroleum refining plant built since 1977 in the United States despite significant growth in demand. Nor have we built a new nuclear plant in decades.

At kitchen tables all over the U.S. and at high school and college cafeterias, young people interested in careers in petroleum, mining, and nuclear engineering are having second thoughts about their career choices.

Listen carefully and you will hear the sound of a former industrial giant weakening.

Bewildered parents who made a good life working as petroleum, mining, or nuclear engineers are telling their children that the future is too uncertain to follow in their footsteps. Oil and coal now presently available in the U.S. lie unharvested as President Biden begs unfriendly, unreliable foreign countries to increase petroleum output. The leadership of those countries spurn his entreaties, as they should. Nations live in a state of nature, meaning their leaders are expected and should attend to the best interests of their countrymen, just as the needs of the community are met by individual artisans, professionals, and merchants. How different would be our course if our president worked for the interests of Americans first, as he should?

There is rich irony in the present status of the “Green Movement” because Americans are the best at petroleum extraction. We can obtain the oil under our feet more cheaply and more cleanly than can possibly occur when the oil has to be harvested in the Middle East and shipped here. Venezuelan oil is of a dirtier grade than the oil we have. And ever present is the risk of a shipping catastrophe whether natural or man-made. The Middle East is notoriously politically unstable, and Iran is antagonistic to the West while it seeks nuclear weapons.

It is as though a drunken sailor is at the helm of energy policy, blindly lurching along, indifferent to obvious peril in pursuit of an impossible goal. We are facing an energy crisis because of the green ideology when two years ago we were a net exporter of energy and self-sufficient. At a time when the Biden administration pursues the chimera of electric vehicles and solar and wind energy, California officials are encouraging citizens to reduce their consumption of electricity and to not charge their electric vehicles. In the Northeast, heating oil prices are increasing by 50%, and citizens will have to make difficult choices and sacrifices just to stay warm. Many will have to go without food or medicine to do so. In the Southeast, a pending shortage of diesel fuel presages yet another increase in food prices and interruption in the economy.

Meanwhile, the president draws down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to artificially reduce the price of fuel before the election. What is so agonizing about all this is that this crisis is totally self inflicted by the action of the government. In corporate boardrooms, people are trying to make decisions about how best to make money. Investments in coal and petroleum, despite past profitability, will inevitably decline. Do you think the investors in the Keystone XL pipeline are willing to put more money at risk in anything having to do with energy?

Compounding this dilemma is that it has been decades since a new nuclear power plant has been built, and it takes years to build one. Prosperity is based on people obtaining what they need and want relatively inexpensively. The prosperity that the U.S. has enjoyed will be seriously diminished by the skyrocketing cost of energy.

Sustaining viable economic investments requires maximum freedom to invest, assess, making mistakes, and changing course in light of new information. While government has a role to play in maintaining public safety, excessive red tape makes economic progress expensive, difficult, and in some cases impossible.

It is difficult to understand why the Israelites, having been so gloriously delivered from the harshness of 400 years of slavery, decided to worship a golden calf while Moses was delayed. The short answer is that some were led astray by idolatry. Our society is now engaged in the idolatry of “green energy,” and the American way of life will be diminished. The limousine liberals who will not suffer much, if at all, as a result of these policies are leading us down the wrong path. While there is time, we should utilize the resources we have and renew the nuclear and fossil fuel industries.

Where is Moses?

Mark Fowler is a former attorney and board-certified physician. He can be reached at [email protected]

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