Optimism is in our national DNA. That makes the fact that 64 percent of Americans (Rasmussen) believe our country is headed in the wrong direction a deeply troubling testament to the depth of our nation's economic hardship. Without a doubt, many in Washington — either through design or neglect — seem resigned to writing our national epitaph rather than restoring the foundations of economic promise.
But they're wrong. The case for our economic comeback already has been written. The rapid development of new technologies and techniques for the cultivation and use of abundant domestic energy sources once again promises to power a new American century. But our nation's economic comeback depends on access to affordable energy.
Energy — like anything else — is more affordable when it is more abundant. Time and again, extreme environmental interests have attempted to micromanage the market, resulting in dangerous boondoggles like Cap and Trade and Solyndra. We can't fix our energy problems by inventing false markets like Cap and Trade or by subsidizing renewables while penalizing traditional, domestic energy.
We don't need false markets; we need free markets. The right strategy is to develop more domestic energy, reduce government red tape and promote greater affordability for consumers. Such a strategy incorporates a more commonsense, market-driven approach. We don't need to shortchange ratepayers or drive up the price of electricity and fuel by foisting impossible renewable energy standards on businesses and then demanding that consumers choose between "expensive" on one hand and "unworkable" on the other.
Beware environmentalists bearing gifts. In Florida, former Governor Charlie Crist's energy program was based on inventing fictitious markets and establishing utterly unattainable standards for renewable energy. Florida wasn't alone; the model had been replicated in states across the country, pushed behind-the-scenes by environmental interest groups. Despite its focus on developing alternative energy sources, Crist's plan was functionally an "all eggs in one basket" approach to energy policy because it attempted to disrupt the marketplace and cheat consumers out of their right to make decisions. Worse still, Florida's consumers ended up paying the price for government's misguided attempts to micromanage their economic decisions.
Pursuing diverse and affordable sources – both above ground and below – will mean reliable energy options for all Americans. That's an "all of the above" energy strategy. And that's the right formula for an economic comeback.