RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif., October 13, 2014 – Energy and the environment are inextricably combined, yet they are rarely discussed within the context of a national resource policy. Then again, we really do not have a national resource policy or any other clearly articulated policy for that matter. Let’s fix that by crafting an intelligent resource policy that inures to the benefit of our Nation’s core interests for both our generation and future ones.
Today, we have an energy policy that has been nebulously defined as “all of the above” in reference to our ability to use every form energy, which apparently includes those that may not presently exist (as will be discussed in Part 2).
Correspondingly, the Executive Branch has encouraged the EPA to expand its authority to the point where it essentially circumvents the authority granted singularly to the Legislative Branch by Article I of the Constitution. If a “cap and trade” bill fails to pass Congress, the EPA simply crafts regulations and enforcement provisions that attempt to accomplish the same objective, only without the safeguards of legislative representation.
The two major parties have also elevated the discussion as only they can: With name-calling and claims that “well-settled science” supports their respective positions, which may change depending upon an environmental condition best described as the shifting of political winds. This allows them to exploit emotional arguments as opposed to factual ones. While this does not solve the problem, it has proven to be exceptionally useful in luring money and votes from zealous constituents as well as engaging the ongoing support of certain lobbyists.
Speaking of solutions, neither Party has offered particularly viable ones. In fact, their more extreme elements have staked out equally absurd positions.
The far Right prefers to ignore the fact that Man’s energy consumption unquestionably has an impact on the environment, while the far Left pretends that the global ecosystem is somehow magically within the regulatory control of the United States.
As was the case with the development of a foreign policy in the first article of this series, we do not have the luxury of embracing extreme positions in designing a reasonable resource policy. We must craft a policy that is reality-based rather than politically-biased, one that acknowledges its impact on other facets of our society rather than one that pretends to operate in isolation.
As we did in our first application of The FREEDOM Process™, let us begin that task with an acknowledgment that every federal Oath of Office includes a phrase that describes a specific action while requiring a commitment to it; namely, an official taking the oath is under sworn obligation to “defend the Constitution of the United States.” Therefore, every policy of every Administration must be constitutionally grounded. Our resource policy is no exception.
Additionally, our Nation’s resource policy must be rationally-driven rather than ideologically-based. Constraints such as time and physics cannot be ignored. A distinction must be drawn between controllable and non-controllable elements, and a balance must be struck between what is technically achievable versus its short and long-term impact on other facets of our society.
Keeping those parameters in mind, let us create a succinct resource policy statement that can be clearly articulated, viably executed, and consistently applied; one that reflects the values of our Republic and can help restore and maintain a balance between energy and the environment both at home and abroad.
The Resource Policy statement of The FREEDOM PROCESS™
In order to form a coherent, integrated resource policy, the United States shall constantly evolve and balance its energy and environmental interests in a manner that is consistent with the responsibilities and authority granted to it under the Constitution. Such policy shall acknowledge any temporal and engineering constraints and seek the most effective and efficient path to transition from a dependence upon non-renewable energy sources to renewable ones as well as from a dependence upon foreign resources to the ability to achieve energy independence. It shall also recognize the difference between controllable and non-controllable elements when formulating regulations, require the fair and efficient application of such regulations, and prioritize the same on a basis of their expected impact on health, safety, environmental preservation and other societal considerations. In addition, it shall use all reasonable efforts to educate and influence the rest of the world with respect to each nation’s fiduciary duty to function as a steward of the environment, which it shares with every other nation.
If we parse this straight-forward resource policy statement, we can gain an understanding of how it might be applied in practice. (Part 2 of this series will address the international aspects of this resource policy.)
The opening phrase, “In order to form a coherent, integrated resource policy…,” states the purpose of the policy.
It continues, “…the United States shall constantly evolve and balance its energy and environmental interests…” This identifies the necessary components (i.e., the inevitably intertwined policies of energy and the environment) and describes how they need to be addressed to achieve the objective (i.e., “constantly evolved and balanced”).
The final phrase of the first sentence defines the framework within which this must be accomplished: “…in a manner that is consistent with the responsibilities and authority granted to it under the Constitution.” The policy must follow the law regardless of how passionately some might feel about the environmental aspect of its energy component.
The resource policy statement continues: “Such policy shall acknowledge any temporal and engineering constraints and seek the most effective and efficient path to transition from a dependence upon non-renewable energy sources to renewable ones as well as from a dependence upon foreign resources to the ability to achieve energy independence.”
It is important to “acknowledge any temporal and engineering constraints” that exist. This mitigates the risk of introducing superfluous regulation and the associated damage it can cause. A well-conceived resource policy must be practical rather than theoretically sublime.
It also must reflect a path that intelligently transitions consumption from “non-renewable energy sources to renewable ones.” While “temporal and engineering constraints” preclude a regulatory demand that is chronologically unrealistic, a transition road map must be developed because, by definition, non-renewable energy resources will cease to exist at some point in time. Correspondingly, we have an obligation to serve as stewards of the environment for “ourselves and our Posterity” as the Preamble suggests.
In order to fulfill the legislative intent of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution (i.e., to “provide for the common Defence [sic] and general Welfare of the United States”), our Nation’s resource policy must also insulate us against any undue influence by foreign powers. It must wean us “from a dependence upon foreign resources to the ability to achieve energy independence.”
We have the means to become energy independent. We also have the capability to become the leader in emerging non-renewable energy technologies that will help preserve the environment. We must construct an approach that advances that cause and retains the industry associated with it. If we can accomplish this, the United States will be positioned to address a myriad of issues that have historically led to political unrest at the global level.
The resource policy continues by calling upon us to “…recognize the difference between controllable and non-controllable elements when formulating regulations, require the fair and efficient application of such regulations, and prioritize the same on a basis of their expected impact on health, safety, environmental preservation and other societal considerations.”
This has import on several levels.
- It limits the use of resource regulations to controllable issues involving energy and/or the environment.
- It requires that such regulations be prioritized on a basis of their discernible impact on health, safety and other aspects of our Nation’s general welfare.
- Correspondingly, this precludes them from being promulgated to promote an ideology, pander to or attack a particular constituency or lobby, or expand the powers of an agency or branch of Government beyond what is defined within the Constitution.
- It requires that such regulations be clearly communicated and administered fairly within committed time frames.
- It demands that such regulations not be structured to advantage or disadvantage any particular group or to create a disproportionate hardship upon other equally valid social concerns (as will be discussed in Part 2).
- In addition, it suggests that such regulations have stated objectives subject to termination provisions if evidence indicates that those objectives are not being met.
Regulations are critically important to the degree they preserve, protect, and defend life, liberty and property. They represent a vital element of a civilized society. However, they should be challenged when they extend beyond that limited role. They are not meant to be used to generate revenue, unjustly favor one entity over another, or placate a particular agenda. Whenever they are abused, they should be challenged and struck down.
So far, we have limited our discussion to the internal impact of the resource policy and, more specifically, to the nexus of interests pertaining to energy and the environment. This is not to ignore its international impact or other aspects of environmental preservation and improvement but rather to concentrate on the competing elements that require the greatest balance. Part 2 of this series will explore the international facets of this resource policy and how it ultimately influences other vital factors of The FREEDOM Process within the United States.
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TJ O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every other Tuesday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows (check local cable listings for the channel in your area or watch online at 8:00 PM and Midnight PM Eastern / 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific. His segment appears about 35 minutes into the program.