The Corner

Invincible Energy Ignorance

One of William F. Buckley’s favorite phrases was “invincible ignorance,” and though it has lots of domains among liberals, energy ignorance has to rank high up in the hierarchy. CNN’s Roland Martin lets out a typical blast in a column today demanding that the U.S. “get off oil.” He delivers such analytical gems as:

Embracing non-oil energy alternatives — wind, natural gas, electric and solar — can absolutely create jobs in this country, and we should require Americans to make their homes more energy efficient with products built by Americans. What’s wrong with that? How can the United States create solar technology and then allow the Chinese to become the leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels? No one alternative energy source can replace oil.

Actually, none of those sources can replace oil, because none of them power automobiles. But it is typical to hear people say we need wind and solar to help break our dependence on foreign oil.  

In fact, we did “get of oil” once in the recent past — we quit using oil to generate electricity starting in the late 1970s. In the mid 1970s, oil generated over 20 percent of our electricity. High prices changed that. Now oil generates less than 1 percent of our electricity. What did we use to “get off” oil? Coal and nuclear power mostly. Oops.

Steven F. Hayward is a visiting professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He writes daily at Powerlineblog.com.

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