Bennett outlines suggestions for energy policy
|Senator Bob Bennett|
While Senator Bob Bennett was in Carbon County last week for the rural economic summit, he talked with the media about many issues that affect eastern Utah.
One of the issues that is of concern to all people who reside on the back side of the Wasatch Front involved the senator's ideas on an energy policy.
"It's a very complex problem and with global warming involved in it, it makes it even more complicated," said the senator.
Bennett began by talking about global warming and its effect on the planet.
"It's clear that humans have added CO2 to the atmosphere, but it is less clear that C02 is responsible for an increase in temperatures," he stated. "I do, believe that there is a good chance it is however."
After discussing the issue with many scientists, Bennett said he found there are links to the warming of the planet and human activities. But he also said many of the same scientists were reluctant to give solutions, partly because a lot more research needs to be done and partly because many of the proposed fixes in the works are political rather than scientific moves.
"When I have asked some of them about their ideas on solving the problem and bring up some of the solutions that have been proposed, many of them just say they are scientists and they just don't know about those solutions," said the senator. "It looks to me that we should do everything we can logically do to reduce these emissions."
For Bennett, however, that doesn't mean not burning coal for power and industry, but by putting the blame for high C02 levels in the proper perspective.
"One of the things I have learned about this is that there are many sources of C02 in the atmosphere," he stated. "A good example of one that was not caused by man and is a huge source right now, were Hurricane's Katrina and Rita. Trees store C02 in them and, when they die and decay, they release that stored C02 very quickly as they decompose. Those two hurricanes mowed down and killed whole forests in the southeast and now those trees are decaying and releasing the gas into the atmosphere at a tremendous rate."
But despite the natural occurrences, Bennett also said any energy policy should put an emphasis on clean coal technology.
"We need to make a big investment in these technologies," indicated the senator.
In addition, Bennett believes that an energy policy should include an increase in the production of domestic oil and gas.
"We need to look at drilling in ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve) and along our shorelines," recommended the senator. "It can be done safely, while respecting the environment."
Bennett also said the country should work toward developing it's tar sands and oil shale resources as much as possible.
The kind of policy supported by Bennett would bode well for eastern Utah, where oil shale and tar sands resources are substantial.
Countries like Canada have taken advantage of their oil shale deposits producing millions of barrels of oil per day from them.
The neighbor to the north is also the largest importer of oil into the United States and the largest exporter in the world.
|Residents of Carbon County can see large wind turbines being erected in the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon as an example of how wind power is becoming more and more viable in an energy starved world. Senator Bennett stated that wind and solar power should be a big part of our future, but that he would also like the country to do more with tidal power to generate electricity.|
However, present technologies to accomplish the task often require large amounts of water, something the local area is not blessed with, especially during drought years.
Oil conservation is also important so supplies can be stretched, use reduced and with that prices would come down as well, pointed out Bennett.
Some of the conservation could be done with better CAFE standards, or having automobile manufacturers make more efficient vehicles.
"We shouldn't care what kind of car you want to buy. But if someone buys a car with mileage that is above, say point A, we should be giving tax credits for that," said the senator.
"Of course, tax credits don't help poor people much because they don't pay as much tax, so any tax credit for efficiency should, in that case, be applied to the purchasers down payment," continued the U.S. senator
Bennett indicated that the development of different types of energy sources are also very important.
"We really need to look closely at nuclear power," said the senator. "People worry about the waste from a plant, but we could increase reprocessing to eliminate some of that problem."
Bennett explained that he likes the idea of solar and wind energy for electricity production as well. But he thinks the country is missing the boat a bit by not looking more closely at tidal power.
"I really think that the action of tides and the generation of power from that should be something we seriously consider for giving us a substantial source of energy," he said.
One of the things Bennett pointed out that he doesn't like in energy policy is the cap and trade process.
Under the process, for instance, consumers can pay money because they produce certain kinds of pollution and that money will be used to mitigate the impact somewhere else.
"I saw this huge pickup in Salt Lake that had a bumper sticker on it that said the carbon from that truck is being mitigated by so much money the owner had paid to some organization to plant trees," said Bennett. "But how does an individual know that is being done with the money they pay?"
Bennett brought up the example of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who is a farmer and has a lot of trees located on his property.
During a recent conversation, Lugar told Bennett that he had been approached by representatives of some type of conservation company. The representatives wanted to pay him an unspecified amount of money so the conservation company could claim that the trees on his farm were located on the group's reserve.
The conservation company was not planting new trees, explained Bennett. The representatives only wanted to pay a small amount of money for trees that were already in the ground and had been there for years.
"I think cap and trade - the way it works today - is the perfect chance for a scam," concluded Bennett.