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The Issue

Energy is the “lifeblood of our economic system,” as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman noted.

Affordable, reliable, and plentiful energy is the foundation of economic growth and prosperity. People and businesses pay directly to purchase electric power and fuel for transportation, and the price of energy is a significant factor in the cost of the vats majority of goods and services traded in our economy. When energy is expensive, people and businesses have fewer resources available for food, education, health care, environmental stewardship, hiring more workers and paying them better wages, and expanding business operations.

Affordable energy, economic growth, and environmental stewardship need not be at odds with one another. Affordable energy and economic growth create the economic resources necessary for effective environmental stewardship. The energy sources that are most abundant and affordable are surprisingly environmentally friendly, especially given recent technological advances. In many ways, the best way to be pro-environment is to be pro-energy.

Energy issues are rising to the top of the agenda in many states, compelling elected officials to take positions on topics as wide-ranging as subsidies to biofuels producers and restrictions on mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. Energy issues often are complex and frequently changing, with changes in technology, prices, and policies adopted in other states and other countries all affecting what policymakers do.

How do we balance energy and environmental concerns with the individual rights and freedoms we hold dear? Those who say we most not utilize our least-expensive fuel sources are putting small and hypothetical risks ahead of better-understood costs and benefits. We know that coal, natural gas, and nuclear power can be used to generate electricity safely and cleanly. If we fail to do so, we risk supply interruptions and rising costs, which in turn will reduce economic growth and job creation.

Our Stance

Unhindered and unsubsidized competition among energy technologies is the best means to discovering tomorrow’s new energy sources. Elected officials should not try to pick winners, even though doing so may score points with one group or another in the short term. In the long term, the individual choices of people and businesses, not governments, will lead to a more diversified fuel supply, reliable energy technology, and environmental protection that is effective as well as efficient. Market-driven energy policies will generate the wealth necessary to maintain a healthy environment and provide our homes and businesses with affordable and reliable electricity.

Featured Subtopics

Man pumping ethanol fuel
Ethanol production is now known to have a “carbon footprint” as large or even larger than production of oil and natural gas. Diverting corn crops to make fuel has raised the cost of feed for cows, cattle, hogs, and even chickens, and raised the prices of other inputs for other crops.
Hydraulic fracturing well
Technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” have made oil and natural gas production America’s fastest growing industries.
Girl frustrated by stacks of books
Unnecessary and burdensome environmental regulations have negative health impacts that result from income being diverted away from health-promoting expenditures toward energy costs.
Wind turbines and solar panels
Renewable power mandates – often referred to as “renewable portfolio standards” – force expensive, heavily subsidized electricity on ratepayers and taxpayers while providing few if any net environmental benefits.

Additional Subtopics

  • Coal
  • Electricity
  • Hydroelectric
  • Mining
  • Natural Gas
  • Net Metering
  • Nuclear
  • Off Shore Drilling
  • Oil
  • Solar
  • Subsidies
  • Wind

Videos

Title: Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Complete Version)
Description: Today, “fossil fuel” has become such a dirty word that even fossil fuel companies feel compelled to apologize for their products. In Fueling Freedom, energy experts Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White make an unapologetic case for fossil fuels, turning around progressives' protestations to prove that if fossil fuel energy is supplanted by “green” alternatives for political reasons, humanity will take a giant step backwards and the planet will be less safe, less clean, and less free.

Energy Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on energy policy are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Heartland Staff Policy Experts