Fact or Fiction in the Energy Debate

In the past few days, the editorial pages of the New York Times have identified an alarming trend in the current energy debate. Increasingly, candidates and their surrogates are peddling delusions and fraudulent claims about how we can drive down gas prices.

Exaggeration and embellishments are a time-honored tradition in political campaigns, but bold deceptions about how America can solve this national crisis are dangerous. Bob Herbert likens them to the lies that led us into the war in Iraq.

What will it take for America to have an honest, sane conversation about our energy future? The facts, not the fiction. We need the whole story, not the easy applause lines.

When American voters are given the whole story—the whole range of energy options—they tend to arrive at a more nuanced, forward-looking position than the “drill here, drill now” crowd would have us believe.

A new national energy poll, commissioned by the League of Conversation Voters, the Sierra Club, and NRDC’s Action Fund, found that:

  • 83 percent of Americans favor investment in clean, renewable energy over increased oil drilling when presented with the full spectrum of energy options.
  • That is 20 percent more than supported increased offshore drilling

When people hear the facts, they understand that clean energy works. For instance,

  • The U.S. Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Agency says “access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”
  • Increasing fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles to 40 miles per gallon would save more than 10 times the likely yield of oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Figures like these should be forming the basis of the energy debate—not falsehoods and empty promises.