While driving through West Texas recently I was struck by the stark reality of energy policy and production in the United States. Between Abilene and Midland, Texas, there are thousands of windmills. The wind was blowing but most of the windmills sat idle. Virtually no workers or productive activity could be seen among the thousands of windmills towering over the prairie. As I drove closer to Midland, Texas, which is located in the middle of the Permian Basin oil patch, it was an entirely different scene with much activity as oil field workers tended wells, many which have long passed their peak production.
Alternative energy does not produce the good paying American jobs that oil and gas production does. The recent turmoil in Egypt and the Middle East underscores how important it is to develop the extensive energy resources abundantly found in North America.
Michigan lawmakers should repeal the legislative ban on directional drilling under the Great Lakes. Although it would also require federal action, a repeal of the ban would indicate that Michigan officials are intent on managing the state's natural resources. When the Michigan Legislature banned directional drilling in 2002 it was acting on politics and not science. The Michigan Science Advisory Board had previously issued a report that concluded directional drilling under the Great Lakes could be conducted safely if a few precautionary policies were enacted, such as not locating the well heads closer than one-quarter mile from the lakes.
If Michigan elected officials continue the recent trend of placing the state's natural resources off limits to development, the prospect for new jobs will be will reminiscent of the idle windmills in West Texas.