ALEC Energy Principles
Mission: To define and promote a comprehensive strategy for energy security, production, and distribution in the states consistent with the Jeffersonian principles of free markets and federalism.
Introduction: A National Energy Strategy
Energy affects all aspects of American life. It is indispensable for economic growth. Access to energy and the supply of energy will only become more important in the future as energy demand continues to increase.
Energy Use Will Continue to Grow. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), overall energy consumption in the United States will grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2035 increasing from 100 quadrillion Btu used a year to 114 quadrillion Btu. Over the same period, EIA projects that electricity demand will increase by 30 percent and demand for liquid fuels (such as gasoline and diesel) will increase by nearly 14 percent. At the same time, the American economy is becoming more energy efficient – carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of GDP declined 41.3 percent between 1981 and 2005, and will decline 42 percent through 2035, and the American economy’s energy intensity – energy use per dollar of GDP – will decrease by 40 percent through 2035. While energy remains a critical component of economic growth, technological developments spurred by the market have improved efficiency and led to lower emissions, without government mandates or excessive regulation. The growth in global energy demand is expected to be approximately 65 percent lower through 2030 than it would have been without these improvements.
Air Quality Has Improved As Energy Use Has Increased. According to EPA, since 1980 gross domestic product has increased 124 percent, vehicle miles traveled have increased 103 percent, population has increased 33 percent, and energy consumption has increased 30 percent. Despite these increases, aggregate levels of air toxics have decreased 52 percent. Ambient levels of carbon monoxide are down 77 percent, ozone is down 21 percent, lead is down 94 percent and sulfur dioxide is down 68 percent.
Global Climate Change is Inevitable. Climate change is a historical phenomenon and the debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions. ALEC will continue to monitor the issue and support the use of sound science to guide policy, but ALEC will also incorporate economic and political realism. Unilateral efforts by the United States or regions within the United States will not significantly decrease carbon emissions globally, and international efforts to decrease emissions have proven politically infeasible and unenforceable. Policy makers in most cases are not willing to inflict economic harm on their citizens with no real benefit. ALEC discourages impractical visionary goals that ignore economic reality, and that will not be met without serious consequences for worldwide standard of living.
ALEC Supports Free Markets. ALEC supports free markets because markets are more effective than onerous regulation at achieving optimal economic and environmental outcomes. America’s economy is becoming more energy efficient and less carbon intensive, not because of regulation, but because it saves money to be energy efficient. Free markets in energy produce more options, more energy, lower prices, and less economic disruptions. Free markets will not necessarily produce the vision of a green economy desired by supporters of government intervention, but they will produce the best outcome among realistic alternatives.
ALEC Supports Affordable Fuels that Power Growth. Mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying. As the history of ethanol indicates, these special interests are difficult to eliminate and can long outlast the exposure of their inefficiency. Forced changes in the economy produce unnecessary costs and threaten reliability. ALEC opposes these mandates, and therefore opposes infighting among fuel sources. Reliable, efficient fuels that power growth have a role in a free market energy sector. The ALEC Energy Principles are an expression of the Jeffersonian ideals of free markets and liberty. These principles are especially important today. Far too often government policies restrict energy options and limit access to vital energy resources. ALEC will work to establish public policies that reflect these principles.
ALEC Energy Principles
Reliance on the market to develop and produce new technologies: The free market should be the principal determinant of which products reach the marketplace.
Opposition to mandates that limit or dictate energy choices: Government programs designed to encourage and advance energy technologies should not reduce energy choices or supply. They should not limit the production of electricity, for example, to only politically preferable technologies.
Reliance on existing technology: Energy policy should rely on technologies that exist, not on uncertain future technological advancements. Technological advancement will occur, but we cannot predict them ahead of time.
Access: North America has extremely large reserves of fossil fuels. Access to these resources should be expanded to provide America with low-cost and reliable energy. Barriers limiting the use of and access to public lands must be removed.
Fuel Diversity: Energy security requires a diversity of fuels to meet the demands of different geographic regions and different energy supplies.
Protection & Safety: North America’s energy infrastructure must be protected from terrorist disruption. Plan for nuclear waste storage must be finalized.
Environmental conservation and protection: Conservation is an important component of a sound U.S. energy security policy, but conservation alone will not meet the nation’s energy needs. There is a role for regulation in protecting the environment. The government should set minimum standards based on sound science, allowing the private sector to develop innovative technological solutions that meet or exceed those standards.
Regulatory reform: Streamlining of regulations is vital to maintain effective environmental protection. Regulations must be based on sound science and subjected to credible cost/benefit analyses. Regulations cannot be insulated by bureaucracy from citizens who experience their effects; legislative oversight and democratic accountability are critical components of our system of government. Duplicative regulatory processes among federal and state government must be coordinated.
Regulatory predictability: State and national legislation and regulation should result in predictability of process and enforcement resulting in the facilitation of investment certainty. The regulatory process should enhance, encourage, and expand energy production, transmission, and distribution.
Energy efficiency: State policies must allow free and competitive markets regarding pricing, technology deployment, energy efficiency, and selection of fuels and suppliers. Energy efficiency is enhanced most effectively through free market forces. State governments can conduct audits of their own energy usage and make appropriate market and cost-based adjustments to enhance efficiency in government-owned facilities.
Infrastructure: Reliable electricity supply depends upon significant improvement of the transmission grid. Interstate and intrastate transmission siting authority and procedures must be addressed to facilitate the construction of needed new infrastructure. New, expanded, and modified refineries, power plants, and transmission facilities require streamlining of siting and permitting processes.
Trade: State and federal government initiatives must promote free trade between nations. Government control should be discouraged to allow the market, not political machinations, to control energy resources.
Federalism: The federal government must allow states to develop their own approaches to energy policy based on their resources and demand. Misguided federal restrictions that ignore regional and local realities impose costs that are beyond the control of those whom they most affect. States know how best to utilize their land and natural resources, and their role in doing so must be preserved.