Energy Policy Hopes for 2023

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energy policies 2023
Adobe stock photo By Maria Fuchs

There are a series of energy policies that need thorough consideration for the new year. These adjustments have the potential to put our nation on a path of positive and lucrative change.

The Restoration of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Firstly, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s (SPR’s) purpose is for emergency use. This includes natural disasters, war, or international incidents that impact the global supply chain. At its highest point in 2010, the reserve had 726.6 million bbl. of oil. The SPR contained 640 million bbl when President Biden took office. By September of 2022, it was depleted to 450 million bbl, a 30% decrease in our stockpile since the president took office. The SPR needs to be restored as quickly and efficiently as possible in preparation for a potential crisis.

Environmental Repercussions of Renewables and Energy

Presently, there is a popular concept circulating in environmental circles that all renewable energy sources are non-polluting and have no potential problems. Simultaneously,  all fossil fuels are depicted as irredeemable, can’t be improved, and should simply be shut down. However, the clean-up of wind power and solar sites does have environmental effects and costs.

It’s also crucial to consider the financial and environmental costs of disposing of old batteries. Much of the improvement in battery function in the past few years comes from the use of rare earth elements. The mining of which also takes a highly negative environmental toll. We also need to consider the implications on international relations of the high proportion of rare earth elements from the People’s Republic of China. The importance of rare earth minerals to the world’s economic well-being points to the negative consequences economically and balance of power-wise to the United States if China continues to maintain its place as the dominant player in this space. 

The Impact of Ethanol

Discontinuing the use of ethanol in gasoline is a no-brainer. Even many environmentalists with whom I have no other area of agreement in policy matters agree on this issue. Ethanol usage, especially made from corn, has a worse environmental impact than fossil fuel. The usage of water and fertilizer in corn production is exceptionally high. It is a highly inefficient use of resources to use good cropland to produce corn for ethanol rather than food. I also question the morality of using corn-based ethanol. It tends to drive up the cost of food and make inefficient use of the land and other resources. Doing away with the ethanol requirement could make a considerable difference since 40% of the US corn crop is now used for ethanol production

It is a human tendency to make the perfect the enemy of the good. The anti-fossil fuel advocates don’t want incremental improvements in fossil fuel efficiency and reduction in pollution. They demand immediate action regardless of the cost. They don’t want improvements in oil and gas; they want it gone, and if they can accomplish that by pricing fossil fuels out of existence, so much better.

Foreign Policy

The foreign policy implications of the Russian Federation and various middle eastern countries using their oil and gas supplies to serve their various policy aims have loomed large over the last 50 years. It makes sense to allow the oil and gas industry here in America the freedom of production so that we can reduce the influence and impact those countries have on the world economy. Similarly, we need to produce higher amounts of oil rather than risk the lives and limbs of our servicemen. Not only are people at risk, but so are billions, and in some cases trillions, of dollars in aid and weapons. Producing more oil will help fight the effects of influence earned from money received by potentially hostile countries.

When I was a commissioner on the Railroad Commission of Texas, I spoke out against the Russian attempts to manipulate public opinion by furnishing money and messaging to the anti-fracturing collection active in the United States and Europe. They did this not because of any concern for the environment, but because they wanted to reduce the production of oil and natural gas in the U.S., thereby increasing the Russian Federation’s market share and cash flow. Of course, I was attacked by the media at that time for those statements. However, Russia has been, and is, still using its oil and gas production market position as an important part of its foreign policy strategy.

The Importance of Security Reliable Energy Production

Energy production is probably the most important facet of the modern economy. That is why we need an “all of the above energy policy”. It’s imperative that we produce energy as cheaply and efficiently as possible. The competition will sort out the cheapest and most efficient forms of energy production in the long run. This should be left to the free market rather than governmental mandates. 

Government Requirements That Should be Terminated

Tax credits should be terminated for vehicle purchases be they ZEV, EV, or hybrid vehicles.  Requiring certain percentages of electric power production to come from renewable sources should be terminated.

Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. While these policy changes will not solve all the world’s energy problems immediately, I sincerely believe their adoption will improve the economy and efficiency of energy production in 2023. 

David Porter Texas Railroad Commissioner

Author Bio

David Porter has served as a Railroad Commissioner (2011–17) and Chairman (2015–16), as well as Vice Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (2016). Prior to service on the Commission, Porter spent 30 years in Midland, Texas, as a CPA working with oil and gas producers, service companies and royalty owners. Since leaving the Commission, Porter works as a consultant for oil and gas companies. He also serves as Chairman of the 98th Meridian Foundation, a nonprofit concerned with water, energy and land issues.



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