Guest Editorial: Plotting a course to a better national energy policy
Summer's here and with the higher temperatures comes higher gas prices, only this year the prices are well above what we're used to paying. Fuel expenses are hurting families and businesses across America, and people in Emery County are among the hardest hit in the nation. This week, for example, the cost of a regular gallon was above $3.26 about 35 cents higher than what a gallon cost the same time last year. There are many factors contributing to the skyrocketing gas prices: increased demand for gas from rapidly industrializing countries like India and China, lack of domestic oil refining capacity, and dependence on foreign sources of oil.
To combat this problem, we need to use many different tactics. Recently, I've launched three legislative measures which I believe will bring down energy prices, improve our national security, and provide cleaner fuel for our environment.
Electric cars: I just introduced a bill promoting Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicles (PEDVs), which include pure battery electric, extended range electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and plug-in fuel cell vehicles. The bill would provide significant tax credits to consumers and manufacturers of PEDVs, as well as utilities that power them. The provision is patterned after the CLEAR ACT, which I authored as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which is currently providing financial incentives for consumers to purchase alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles.
Oil refining: AAA reports that the current surge in gas prices is largely due to ongoing problems at the nation's oil refineries, and I recently introduced a bill to make it easier for refineries to address these problems. The bill would provide tax credits to companies expanding their refining capacity so they could recover the enormous cost of expansion quickly.
Although this legislation offers tax incentives, over time it will not cost the U.S. Treasury any tax revenue. It would allow refineries to change the timing of the depreciation of their equipment, but not the amount. Meanwhile, it would increase the size of our tax base by encouraging industry to build new refineries and increase capacity. Geothermal energy: I've also joined legislative efforts to promote greater use of geothermal energy, electricity collected from naturally generated heat inside the Earth. Geothermal is one of the cleanest, most effective sources of renewable energy we can access, and Utah has one of the largest underground hot water reservoirs in the nation.
I am cosponsoring the National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007, which will authorize new funds for research and application of geothermal energy, with the goal that by 2030 geothermal should constitute at least 20 percent of the total electrical energy production in the U.S. These steps will not bring quick fixes, but they will bring lasting results. As our nation grows and our energy consumption increases, we must continue to keep Utah communities supplied with affordable and reliable energy resources. Proceeding with geothermal energy, electric cars, and increased refining domestic capacity will help us move from the fossilized ideas that have created this energy crunch to the renewable promise of our future.