I hope President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address, announces an energy plan that will help restart the world’s economies in 2016.
I don’t have much confidence that will happen – every president since Nixon has promised an energy plan and not delivered one – and, because for the past year, President Obama has single-handedly led the charge to restrain worldwide economic growth by demanding that fossil fuels are, in essence, declared illegal.
The Industrial Revolution began in approximately 1760 and was fueled in large part by coal. It allowed average families to move beyond a life of subsistence farming, with tools and clothing that were largely made in their homes. Only the wealthiest (the “One Percenters” of the day) could afford to purchase anything approaching a luxury item.
Coal providing the power to run steam engines proved far more efficient than water wheels (or wood) allowing towns and cities to flourish near water used primarily for shipping, not primarily for power. Wood is coal 300 million years before its time.
The first commercial mining of coal occurred near Richmond, Virginia in 1748, helping to import the Industrial Revolution to the New World.
President Barack Obama’s single-minded focus on global warming aims to reverse the past 268 years of human history and, in the developing world, will mean that economic development will be delayed for generations, if not halted altogether.
The population of the world at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was about 791 million. The total population of the earth is today 7.2 billion (India and China alone account for 2.66 billion of them).
It is clear to anyone who considers the problem of feeding, housing, providing transportation and communications, heating, cooling, and purifying water for a population that is more than 900% larger than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution requires more forms of energy, not fewer.
Since I began the Pickens Plan in the summer of 2008, I have said we should use any form of fuel available to provide for our economic growth. That includes not just natural gas, coal and oil; but also hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and solar.
Natural gas has become cheap enough to be able to replace coal in many power plants – dramatically reducing greenhouse gas and particulate emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, in 2014 coal accounted for 39 percent of electricity production; natural gas 27 percent, nuclear 19 percent. Wind accounted for 4.4 percent and solar 0.4 percent. All others made up the rest.
What the President should call for in his last State of the Union Address is a comprehensive energy plan that includes allowing the United States to continue to lead the world by both the free import and export of all sources of energy.
If he wants to demonstrate real concern for the developing world, a major part of his energy plan should look for ways to export our technology – in addition to our resources – to teach the developing world how to make the best use of the resources they have, and how to be good custodians of the air and water while doing it.
That’s my hope for the President’s speech.