- Politics and Social Issues
Efficient Energy Policies for the U.S.
A great debate over the inefficiency of the United State’s energy policies is underway. In the past, there were energy policies put forth as an effort to meet the needs of the country. However, there has yet to be an energy policy that will ensure the nation’s needs are met in full. If the U.S. would like to meet its energy needs then energy policies that promote the use of renewable resources should be enacted.
For example, biomass, hydropower, geothermal, and wind power are some renewable resources that can be used to benefit the United States. In addition, if the U.S. were to drill for more oil offshore the United States would not have to depend so much on foreign oil. Thus with energy policies that promote renewable resources and more efficient oil drilling, the U.S. can ensure that the energy needs of the country will be met.
Increased Interest in Energy Policy
With the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the War in Iraq, the United States’ interest in energy policies has increased significantly. This increased interest in energy policy has caused a debate within the nation as to which resources will be more beneficial to both the economy and environment.
Three recently debated energy policies to be enacted in the U.S. were “the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Advanced Energy Initiative, and the Twenty in Ten Initiative” (Energy Policies of IEA Countries). These three energy policies were also up for debate prior to being passed. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was debated for several years and once it was passed, the policy aimed for new directions for the use of clean energy.
The Advanced Energy Initiative is focused on increasing the use and development of advanced technologies in an effort to change the way Americans power their businesses, homes, and automobiles. The third United State’s energy policy named the Twenty in Ten Initiative aimed to reduce the gasoline consumption of the United States “by 20% over the next ten years” (Energy Policies of IEA Countries).
Wide Use of Nonrenewable Resources
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, Advanced Energy Initiative, and the Twenty in Ten Initiatives have not yet brought the U.S to the efficient state of energy use that the nation desires. In order for the U.S. to move toward efficient energy use and resources requires an energy policy with the use of more renewable resources.
Currently, the most used energy resources in the United States are nonrenewable resources such as oil, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear power, and coal. Oil is a widely used fossil fuel that is also a danger to the environment. When oil spills out sea it damages the ecosystems of the surrounding ocean life.
Petroleum oil is another widely used energy source in the United States. It is partially effective at supplying the nation with energy in that it powers automobiles however its use also emits harmful gases into the atmosphere. In like nature, natural gas is effectively used to heat homes but it also “produces greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming” (World Energy Supply).
Hazards of Some Nonrenewable Fuels
Coal also poses concerns, for example, coal miners can develop the black lung disease from mining underground. Additionally, the burning of coal “causes emission of sulfur dioxide particles, nitrogen oxide, and other impurities” (World Energy Supply) which can pollute the air and cause acid rain, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuclear power is another nonrenewable energy source that supplies the nation with power but is also a danger to the health of those who are in an area near to a power plant. The environment can also be damaged by the spill or improper disposal of radioactive substances. Oil, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear power, and coal are more widely used to power the U.S. but these energy sources are nonrenewable.
The current use of these energy resources is hazardous to the nation’s environment which supplies more reasons as to why the U.S. should use renewable resources. More environmentally conscious energy policies rely on renewable resources as opposed to nonrenewable resources.
Types of Renewable Resources
Renewable resources are energy sources that can be replenished in a shorter amount of time compared to nonrenewable resources which can not be replenished. “Renewable energy can be increasingly important for providing many key energy services” (Policy Recommendations for Renewable Energies).
A number of renewable energy resources available to today are solar energy, wind power, geothermal energy, biomass, and hydropower” (Energy Is the Ability To Do Work). However, not all renewable energy resources are efficient. For example, solar energy is collected through solar panels which can turn that energy into a secondary energy sources such as electricity and heat.
The negative side to solar energy is the fact that the solar panels are expensive to produce. Solar panels also require large surface areas in order to meet the regularly needed amount of electricity. There is another renewable alternative which is wind power.
Wind Power and Geothermal Energy
The use of wind power from windmills is becoming a more widely used efficient energy resource. It was not until recently that wind power could be harnessed with “ten or more windmills in a grid” (World Energy Supply). Even though wind power is growing in popularity, wind power should be a greater part of the nation’s energy resources considering it is an abundant renewable source.
Wind power is only “7 percent of the United States energy supply” (Energy Is the Ability To Do Work). Like wind power, geothermal energy uses the earth’s resources. Geothermal energy uses heat or rather the steam form within the earth’s surface to power turbines and generate electricity.
Geothermal energy is practically limitless therefore it is an energy resource that can be harvested for centuries to come. In comparison to solar, wind, and geothermal power, hydropower and biomass are the energy resources that rank at the top or renewable resources.
Hydropower and Biomass Fuels
The clean electricity produced from hydropower is a large component of American renewable energy. Hydropower generates power from a hydro turbine in a dam. One well known example of hydropower is the Hoover Dam which generates a low costing clean energy. Biomass like hydropower is one of the most used renewable resources in the U.S.
Biomass is produced from organic elements like plants, firewood, etc. A type of biomass is ethanol which is produced from corn. Biodiesel is another biomass which is created from vegetable oil. Both ethanol and biodiesel are types of energy sources known as biofuels. However, there is an obvious downfall to biofuels manufacturing process.
Biofuels that are produced from foods like vegetable oil and corn will cause the price of such foods to go up because of their increased use. Biofuels such as methane which is made from refuse like landfill waste, etc. are better alternatives.
Off Shore Drilling
Biomass, wind power, geothermal, and hydropower are the renewable energy resources that should be promoted in energy policies in the United States. Yet one other consideration for an energy policy is off shore drilling. Drilling off shore can save the U.S. more funds compared to buying oil from foreign countries.
There has been much debate over drilling for oil offshore and as the debate continues U.S. dependence on foreign oil continues to climb with an estimated “37% in next 20 years” (Fanara). Fewer restrictions on offshore drilling will cause the U.S. to be more independent and less dependent on foreign oil.
With the implementation of energy policies that focus on increasing use of renewable resources and fewer restrictions on off shore drilling, the United States can cut prices and help reduce damage to the environment. Improvements in energy efficiency will make sure that the nation’s energy needs are met.
Global Clean Power
References and Further Reading:
- Energy Information Administration. “Energy Is the Ability To Do Work.” Eia.doe.gov. n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2009.
- “Energy Policies of IEA Countries.” International Energy Agency. 2007. Web. 5 Oct. 2009.
- Fanara, Andrew. “Global Trends and Opportunities for Energy Efficiency.” Datacenter Dynamics, Londo.2007. Web. 8 Oct. 2009.
- “Policy Recommendations for Renewable Energies.” International Conference for Renewable Energies, Bonn. 4 Jun. 2004. Web. 5 Oct. 2009.
- World Almanac Education Group. “World Energy Supply.” Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. 2006. Web. 5 Oct. 2009.
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