How we can restore an energy future that keeps the lights on

How we can restore an energy future that keeps the lights on

Reliable and affordable energy should be a fact of life in our country. And for most of America, it is. But under California ’s Green New Deal experiment, reliable power has become uncertain, with millions of people experiencing emergency power usage warnings across the state last month. The state itself forecasts a of 1,700 to 5,000 megawatts of power this year, with that shortfall expected to increase through at least 2025.

This is the ultimate outcome of the Green New Deal — a policy platform that picks winners and losers in clean energy and forces rapid changes without first building the infrastructure necessary to accommodate demand. GND policies also fail to take into consideration the full life cycle costs of renewable technologies. While the goal of sustainable, cleaner energy is one we all share, our country needs an all-of-the-above energy plan that unleashes American innovation, capitalizes on the potential of nuclear energy, and expands domestic energy production to secure America’s energy independence.

Domestic energy production, including oil and coal, is important because the United States is able to produce it in a cleaner way than any other country in the world. In the year before President Joe Biden took office and halted the sale of new oil leases on domestic lands, the U.S. was a net oil exporter for the first time in its history. The natural gas we export to Europe is 41% cleaner than current Russian natural gas pipelines to the same destination, and the light crude oil we produce in Wyoming has 50% lower life cycle emissions than heavy crude oil produced in Venezuela. Domestic production is good for our planet, our economy, and our allies across the globe who want to import American energy.

Our country has always been at the forefront of developing cutting-edge renewable energy solutions. The most advanced solar, wind, hydropower, and nuclear energy ideas were born here, providing abundant opportunities to export our innovation to the world. However, new technological breakthroughs take time. Government policies that force rapid transitions to only certain forms of energy forgo the benefits of an open marketplace to support the most efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable technologies, and they threaten our ability to keep the lights on.

This is exactly what has happened under GND policies in California and what could happen nationwide as the federal government imposes progressive energy policy changes on the public. Already, energy prices across the country have skyrocketed, domestic production has declined, reliance on dirtier foreign energy has increased, and America has become less energy independent and less secure.

Progressives’ refusal to embrace nuclear energy is especially crippling. Despite being the most reliable and highest-producing form of zero-emission energy, U.S. nuclear electricity generation in 2021 for the second consecutive year, producing 1.5% less energy for American households than it did in 2020. When California retired the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2013, the state’s total power availability dropped significantly and now powers an estimated 300,000 fewer homes even after the state “replaced” the plant with new natural gas-fired power plants.

That single nuclear station provided about 20% of the total power for southern California on a land mass of only 84 acres. By contrast, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the largest and most innovative solar plant in the world, takes up 3,500 acres of what was once pristine wilderness in California’s High Desert to produce 1.8 gigawatts less than the nuclear station. With modern technology, we could put roughly five nuclear plants in that same space and produce enough power to sustain the entire state.

South Carolina, on the other hand, leads in an all-of-the-above energy solution by using clean energy sources like nuclear energy. South Carolina’s Oconee Nuclear Station became the second nuclear station in the U.S. to have its license renewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an additional 20 years. It is clean, safe, and reliable and produces enough emission-free energy to power more than. In South Carolina, the nuclear energy sector provides half the state’s total electricity, 95% of the state’s total carbon-free power, and employs thousands of people in highly skilled and highly paid jobs.

In total, the U.S. avoided more than of carbon dioxide emissions in 2021 through our use of nuclear energy. That’s the equivalent of removing approximately 100 million cars from the road, more than all other clean energy sources combined. Nuclear must remain part of our energy matrix for both energy security and emission reduction purposes.

In Congress, we are fighting for American energy independence as part of our . We understand that the Biden administration’s ban on new oil and gas leases has led to skyrocketing energy prices that hurt American families who work hard every day to put food on the table and keep gas in the car. We also realize that America needs a regulatory environment that encourages long-term investment in energy production and an end to the regulatory war on pipelines and the supply of capital for energy projects. We are working to stop the assault on American energy and unleash domestic production.

With an all-of-the-above energy policy, we can ensure the public always has access to reliable, affordable, and clean energy. We must unleash American energy production and create a regulatory environment that encourages innovation in the energy sector, not one that deters it. Only by doing so will we bring energy prices down and make American energy independent again.


Jay Obernolte is a U.S. representative for California and serves on the committees on natural resources, budget, and science, space, and technology. Jeff Duncan is a U.S. representative for South Carolina and serves on the House energy and commerce subcommittees on energy, environment and climate change, and communications and technology. 

Images Powered by Shutterstock