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John Holdren: Energy “Indispensable,” “Reliable,” “Affordable” (so how does this square with Waxman–Markey?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 19, 2009

[Editor Note: This updates an original post dated January 14, 2009. It shows a realistic, rationale side of Dr. Holdren that is often absent. The importance of affordable, plentiful, reliable energy should frame the debate in the U.S. Senate over energy/climate legislation.]

From time to time, John Holdren has acknowledged that plentiful, affordable, reliable energy is vital to human well being. Indeed, there is no going back to an energy-poor world. (Remember: caveman energy was 100% renewable.)

When Holdren or Obama advocates policies that risk making energy artificially scarce or less reliable, these words can be used to argue for nonregulatory approaches to energy policy:

“Virtually all of the benefits that now seem necessary to the ‘American way’ have required vast amounts of energy. Energy, in short, has been our ultimate raw material, for our commitment to economic growth has also been a commitment to the use of steadily increasing amounts of energy necessary to the production of goods and services.” 

    –  John Holdren and Philip Herrera, Energy (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1971), p. 10.

“When energy is scarce or expensive, people can suffer material deprivation and economic hardship.”

    –  John Holdren, “Population and the Energy Problem,” Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Spring 1991, p. 231.

“Energy is an indispensable ingredient of material prosperity. . . . Where and when energy is in short supply or too expensive, people suffer from lack of direct energy services (such as cooking, heating, lighting, and transport) and from inflation, unemployment, and reduced economic output.”

    –  John Holdren, Population and the Energy Problem,” Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Spring 1991, p. 232.

“Supplying energy to the economy contributes to the production of a stream of economic goods and services generally supportive of well-being.”

    –  John Holdren, “Coal in Context: Its Role in the National Energy Future,” University of Houston Law Review, July 1978, p. 1089.

“A reliable and affordable supply of energy is absolutely critical to maintaining and expanding economic prosperity where such prosperity already exists and to creating it where it does not.”

     –  John Holdren, “Memorandum to the President: The Energy-Climate Challenge,” in Donald Kennedy and John Riggs, eds., U.S. Policy and the Global Environment: Memos to the President (Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute, 2000), p. 21.

“Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.”

      –  John Holdren, “Meeting the Energy Challenge,” Science, February 9, 2001, p. 945.

Judging from the above, John Holdren is a candidate to join the master resource club. Now, can he come around to view energy and climate in non-alarmist terms so that government does not pick winners and losers at the expense of taxpayers, ratepayers, and consumers?

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