An op-ed by Brooke Moore, LiKEN Research Assistant
July 4, 2017
In terms of energy pollution, the vast majority of the adult population understands the dire effects that the burning of fossil fuels has on both the environment and human health. When reading through the Energy and Water Development section of the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Balance, I was shocked to see that the Heritage Foundation overlooked the scientific facts. The proposals listed below aim to outline the potential adverse effects the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint, if followed, could have on both society and the environment.
Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies
Eliminate the Department of Energy (DOE) Biological and Environmental Research Program – Page 42
The DOE Biological and Environmental Research Program provides the research necessary to support projects acted out by the DOE’s energy, environment and other projects. This research includes understanding carbon storage, the role plants and organisms play in the carbon cycle, biofuel, etc. An example of the research this program provides is on utilizing Bacterial Protein for a more efficient conversion of Biomass into Biofuels (DOE-BER 2016).
Biofuels are a widely debated topic, as they could provide a potential solution to the un-renewable energy crisis. This research provides a bacterial protein that breaks down biomass more efficiently, which in turn would make the creation of biofuels more accessible, effective and energy efficient (DOE-BER 2016). Such studies not only propel progress within the renewable energy field, but also offer alternative solutions that make the widespread use of renewable energy more realistic. Without any research in fields such as these, how will a future outside of fossil fuels be accomplished?
Eliminate the DOE Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability – Page 45
The Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability focuses on developing and maintaining the necessary technologies for energy and energy storage. This includes security measures in the case of a disaster, modernizing grids to withstand cyber attacks and protect energy reliability against extreme weather conditions. One example that pertains to a sustainable future and proves itself necessary is the integration of renewable energy. Projects this Office oversees include reducing peak load in order to reduce energy costs, supporting electric vehicles by providing plug-in electric vehicle operations on grids and increasing the clean distribution of renewable energies (Office (1) 2017).
If the Trump administration’s proposed budget were to eliminate this specific Office some consequences could include increased prices for sustainable energies (and thus a decreased use of them), increased pollution due to increased reliance upon fossil fuels and decreased energy security.
Eliminate the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – Page 46
The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is dedicated to researching and developing renewable energies that are more affordable, accessible and efficient on both a community and state-wide level. As we learn more about the harmful effects of fossil fuels, and the decreasing reserves of fuel, it is crucial to start transitioning towards alternatives. These alternatives include, but are not limited to, solar energy, wind energy and hydropower. Two particular areas this Office oversees that will affect individuals are their provision of Incentives and Financing For Energy Efficient Homes and education of the general public.
In terms of the former, these financial incentives include tax credits, rebates and energy efficient mortgages (Office (2) 2017). These programs make it easier and more cost efficient for individuals to shift towards more sustainable lifestyles including solar panels, insulation and green remodeling. These specific projects not only benefit the environment; they also make energy far more cost efficient for consumers. The government currently provides oil, gas and coal subsidies so why is the Heritage Foundation so keen on removing any sustainable energy rebates?
This Office additionally devotes a large portion of their responsibilities to educating the general public on ways for them to become more efficient, products that are more sustainable, and how to make these changes in a cost efficient manner. For example, the following webpage is dedicated to inform consumers how to choose more efficient and sustainable lights for their home: https://energy.gov/energysaver/lighting-and-daylighting-products-and-services
Another example is the blog the Office oversees that educates people on the harmful effects of idling cars when picking children up from school.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy strives to be at the forefront of creating a more sustainable society for future and current generations. By eliminating this Office we would effectively be eliminating one of our greatest fuels towards progress and, in turn, propel us further away from the ecologically conscious future we need.
Eliminate the DOE Office of Fossil Energy – Page 47
The Office of Fossil Energy covers a wide variety of tasks with regards to fossil fuels. These tasks include maintaining emergency fuel reserves, regulating the importation and exportation of fossil fuels and collecting data through research on the various energy sources. The Heritage Foundation stated that the Office’s extensive focus on research for technologies that reduce CO2 emissions from these sources was one of the reasons why they should be eliminated. However, this is the type of research our country requires if we are going to continue using fossil fuels in any way, as it allows for us to at least somewhat decrease their adverse effects.
Two examples of important research this Office provides are the research on carbon capture and international cooperation. The Carbon Capture Program was co-initiated by the Office of Fossil Energy (Office (3) 2017). This program is devoted to researching and designing new technologies that improve the efficiency and success of carbon capturing machines that will consequentially reduce both pollution and reduce cost (Office (3) 2017). Programs like these are imperative as they strive to create technologies that benefit both those who wish to use fossil fuel energy and those who do not.
The second example, international cooperation, is a larger over-arching task including various different activities. These activities include working with other countries on creating cleaner energies, collaborating globally on having energies be more secure and accessible to developing countries, and collecting international data on the harmful effects of methane and possible solutions (Office (4) 2017). International cooperation is what allows societies to progress at an expedited rate. By collaborating, we are receiving information from varying methods, techniques, environments, thought-processes, etc. This teamwork is what creates innovation, development and inspiration. It is much easier to work together than isolated, as what will we have to learn from if we cut off our connections globally?
If Offices such as these are eliminated the environment will not be the only thing to suffer. As a society we require a government that is forward thinking, altruistic, and concerned with long-term issues. Forgoing a sustainable future for one still reliant upon fossil fuels will only create more chaos and issues in the future when we are left without any alternatives. We need a system that favors those who wish to make a change and choose energy sources that do not degrade our environment or our health – whether it be through rebates or state-wide shifts towards renewable energy.
References in order of appearance
DOE – BER. “Publication Highlights – Bacterial Protein Shows Promise for Efficiently Converting Plant Biomass to Biofuels.” Genomic Science Program, 2016, genomicscience.energy.gov/program/berhighlights.shtml.
Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability. “RENEWABLE ENERGY INTEGRATION.” Energy.gov, 2017, energy.gov/oe/services/technology-development/renewable-energy-integration.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “INCENTIVES AND FINANCING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENT HOMES.” Energy.gov, 2017, energy.gov/energysaver/incentives-and-financing-energy-efficient-homes.
Office of Fossil Energy. “Carbon Capture R&D.” Energy.gov, 2017, energy.gov/fe/science-innovation/carbon-capture-and-storage-research/carbon-capture-rd.
Office of Fossil Energy. “International Cooperation.” Energy.gov, 2017, energy.gov/fe/services/international-cooperation.