Another Blow to Sensible Energy Policy: President Biden and Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve

Eschewing our own natural resources and over-relying on underdeveloped, intermittent generation technologies, is a recipe for disaster.

Last week, the Biden Administration struck another blow against sensible energy policy by cancelling seven oil and gas leases in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) using executive regulatory actions.

Claiming authority to cancel and suspend oil and gas leases issued in violation of statute or regulation, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued the order, claiming that the environmental review of the leases did not include sufficient analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Specifically, Haaland claims that the review did not “properly quantify downstream greenhouse gas emissions” or “adequately analyze a reasonable range of alternatives.”

As The Wall Street Journal editorial board succinctly put it, “NEPA doesn’t require climate analysis.”

The Journal also reported that, in her remarks, Haaland defended the Administration by claiming they are “based on the best available science and in recognition of the Indigenous Knowledge.” As a reminder, last year the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wrote a memo encouraging agencies to consult indigenous spiritual leaders and avoid “methodological dogma” while including “Indigenous Knowledge [sic] as an aspect of the best available science.”

While the Biden Administration is busy simultaneously prostrating itself on two dogmatic altars, Vladimir Putin’s reign of terror in Europe is receiving increased funding as oil and gas prices rise. On the domestic front, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced what is known as a Stage 2 emergency, the final stage before rolling blackouts as temperatures soar into the triple digits.

The trouble in Texas is due to an increase in demand caused by mass migration from states such as California and Illinois coupled with a suboptimal mix of reliable energy generation technologies. Wind and solar generation declined precipitously due to weather conditions, while the state’s de-emphasis on reliable, dispatchable power sources, such as natural gas, left the Texas grid on the brink of failing at a critical time when a lack of interior cooling could easily lead to heat deaths.

Reliable, affordable energy is the backbone of modern society. Eschewing our own natural resources and over-relying on underdeveloped, intermittent generation technologies, is a recipe for disaster. Developing and implementing new ways to produce electricity, such as small modular nuclear reactors and advanced battery systems, is within reach, but without full-scale deployment, it is irresponsible for governments to bet lives and our economy on, literally, which way the wind is blowing.

ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force has been hard at work for years discussing these issues, and there are two model policies that are particularly relevant to these issues. The first, a Resolution Supporting Reliable and Affordable Energy, calls on our government to support a strategic, near and long-term goal of maintaining our grid. The second, the Electric Generation Facility Closures and Reliability Act, prevents shuttering traditional power plants before new generation sources are online and ready to deliver power.

In Depth: Energy

It is difficult – and perhaps even impossible – to overstate the relationship between readily available access to safe, affordable and reliable energy and individual prosperity and economic wellbeing. This is because energy is an input to virtually everything we produce, consume and enjoy in society. Think for a minute…

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