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Yash Gupta
Business School Dean

Yash Gupta

Yash Gupta is Professor and Dean of The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Time for a real energy policy

Q: Republican leaders have built their energy policies around increased oil and gas extraction, dismissing environmental dangers. How should they respond to the Gulf oil spill if they want to preserve offshore drilling as a politically viable option?

If the Republicans want to display leadership on this issue, they first need to own up to the fact that "drill, baby, drill" hardly qualifies as a wise energy policy. Then they should work with the Democrats on a comprehensive, forward-looking plan that embraces multiple energy sources and weans us off oil.

The U.S. imports 11 million barrels of oil a day, a good deal of it from nations that don't share our values. Our oil habit adds to the strength of these nations, which in turn threatens America and our interests. I'd like to see our political leaders help us break this dangerous oil habit by spreading our energy burden among alternatives including wind, solar, and nuclear power. Our dependence could be greatly reduced by improving and expanding our mass transportation systems, and by continuing to give tax credits for home renovations that incorporate energy-efficient materials.

I realize that a tax increase would be unacceptable to many people, but serious thought must be given to an enhanced tax on gasoline. The revenues could be used to develop energy alternatives. In addition, such a tax could provide automakers with greater incentive to produce high-mileage cars. Perhaps most important, we might see a change in the behavior of U.S. consumers who have long taken for granted a plentiful and relatively inexpensive supply of oil.

Meantime, our political leaders should declare a moratorium on further oil exploration in environmentally sensitive areas until we have developed the ability to prevent such accidents or at least to control their impact. Our inability to do so has led to yet another heartbreaking catastrophe for the ecology, economy, and culture of the Gulf region.

Our leaders in Washington - Republicans and Democrats alike - have to put aside partisan politics and start acting like patriots. Craft an energy policy that looks beyond the next election. Forget about what's expedient and focus on what's best for the entire nation over the long haul.

By Yash Gupta

 |  May 4, 2010; 10:39 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I think that a tax on oil consumption is the only idea that will motivate americans to look for alternative energy sources. For instance, I noticed that electric and hybrid car choices expanded in the marketplace when gas hit $3 a gallon. Just think what would happen if gas went even higher. We will have to pay someday for our massive consumption of oil, either with environmental issues or with national security issues unless we look to alternative energy sources soon.

Posted by: Tracyleed | May 7, 2010 10:41 AM
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Concidentally, I just sat down in my classroom at the JHU Carey Business School to find this article retweeted by @JohnsHopkins. While I agree that "Drill, baby, drill" is not a realistic energy policy (Republicans don't seem to have ever had one), I don't think that calling for an enchanced tax is the way to go. We already pay roughly $.45 on every gallon of gas that we buy, and that was originally meant to pay for the upkeep of roads by those who use them (i.e., gas purchasers). Of course, given the deplorable state of our roads and the ridiculously high tolls we have to pay (especially here in the North East), clearly the existing gas tax is not meeting its stated purpose. While I agree with the Dean on his objectives overall (alternative/renewable energy is something we desparately need) I find it highly unlikely that enhanced and/or additional gas taxes would be used for those purposes.

Posted by: thomas_quinlan | May 4, 2010 4:04 PM
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Ontario’s Feed in Tariff for developing Offshore Wind resources on Lake Erie is attracting over $83 Billion in investment and generating over $253 Billion in Economic activity and 66,362 new jobs while creating manufacturing, Research and Development, Demonstration and Deployment activity.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/03/offshore-awakening

Virginia and other East Coast States can create new Energy and Jobs within a short time from Biofuels, Offshore Wind, Distributed Solar and Biomass (created by VA Farmers) Combined Heat and Power facilities as compared with the decades it takes for Nuclear, Gas and Oil and their drawbacks of Public Liability, Waste and Pollution.

Posted by: liveride | May 4, 2010 1:42 PM
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We currently use 25% of the world’s Oil while we have only 3% of it. No amount of domestic drilling will adjust that number even a percentage point or have any effect on the price of Oil on world markets. What will have the greatest effect is Using a lot Less of it (& ending Wall Street Energy speculation). Transportation Efficiency can reduce that by several points, domestically produced Biofuels reduce it several more points. Developing Freight Rail (such as along the I-81 corridor) reduces it a few more points. Here is where we get the greatest Bang-for-the-Buck and Job Creation without sacrificing other Multi-Billion dollar industries and White Sand beaches.

Drilling for a few million in royalties while putting our multi-billion dollar Tourism and Commercial Fishing industries at risk is not what we need (not to mention the gross environmental destruction). We need to invest in creating Millions of Jobs from Renewable energy technologies. Virginia has enviable resources for Biofuel, Offshore Wind, Distributed Solar and Biomass (created by VA Farmers) Combined Heat and Power facilities. These take intelligence and work beyond trying to find free gold in the Sea. Nothing is free without hard work and Investment.

Right now, Alabama Senator Shelby and other GOP leaders are stalling Energy Legislation that will fund our Domestic Renewable Energy Development and Free us from Oil and Coal Dependence.

Posted by: liveride | May 4, 2010 1:21 PM
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