Lawmaker promotes New Jersey renown for energy silliness

Dec. 14, 2015
Although New Jersey is no focal point of American energy expertise, the state has taken a proud stride toward renown for energy silliness.

Although New Jersey is no focal point of American energy expertise, the state has taken a proud stride toward renown for energy silliness.

Expertise tends to concentrate in states with many inhabitants professionally engaged in the commercial production of energy. Of those, through no fault of its own, New Jersey has relatively few.

Silliness, though, can attach itself to any jurisdiction.

New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made a silly objection to energy legislation that would, among other things, expedite permitting for pipeline and electricity projects and end the ban on exports of crude oil.

Despite a promised veto by President Barack Obama, the House passed the bill, which Pallone complained displays "an unerring devotion to the energy of the past."

However silly, condemnation of oil and gas as "energy of the past" isn't new. Obama starting fussing about "yesterday's energy" in 2011.

Since then, the US has become a leading producer of oil and gas thanks to technology that's anything but "yesterday's." Even Obama has eased his smear of oil and gas as fuels of bygone generations, although he certainly hasn't quit trying to curtail their use in favor of costlier substitutes.

The House legislation in fact makes a practical attempt to update US energy governance and infrastructure in service to modernity.

For Pallone, though, it doesn't do enough for "solar, wind, or any other clean energy technology," as though those energy forms receive no help elsewhere in the statutes.

The real objection is that the bill removes obstacles to realization of newly expanded potential to produce oil and gas. That development horrifies environmental extremists but promises to improve life for everyone else-even though combustion of the associated hydrocarbons does emit greenhouse gases. Adults balance good with bad.

Energy judgments that obsess about drawbacks and ignore benefits-such as scale and affordability-lack meaning.

And energy judgments that assert temporal standards applicable more to fashion or automobiles lack seriousness.