Every American can be an Energy Entrepreneur

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“America has an opportunity to set an example for the world by creating a true free market for energy, replacing the current marketplace that is riddled with rules written by polluters and designed to reward the use of the dirtiest fuels.”

       - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. 

For his entire career, RFK Jr. has advocated for a free-market approach to energy and environmental issues. In a true free-market system, private corporations are supposed to pay for their own costs. But today, many big corporations internalize their profits as they externalize the costs of their environmental damage, meaning that the American public ends up paying instead of the polluters. 

Globally, the fossil fuel industry receives about $7 trillion per year in subsidies. A portion of that enormous sum comes from direct subsidies like tax breaks. But most comes from indirect subsidies, which companies receive when they externalize the cost of the damage they cause to air, water, and common resources, as well as human health. 

In places like western Pennsylvania, fracking companies poisoned the water supplies, forcing local residents to buy bottled water instead of drinking from their own wells. Those areas now incur higher rates of cancers and other adverse health conditions. But the local people, not the corporations, were left with the bills.

The fossil fuel industry imposes many other costs on the public. Every freshwater fish in North America has been poisoned by mercury, primarily from coal-fired power plants. Adirondack lakes have been sterilized by acid rain, and hundreds of Appalachian mountains have been obliterated by mountain-top-removal mining. Americans suffer high rates of asthma and other chronic illnesses due to air and water pollution. Our country is continually caught up in wars fought over control of the oil supply. 

The big industries that should be held responsible for these kinds of external costs do not pay for them. American citizens do.

As President, Kennedy will support public policies that require fossil fuel companies to internalize their costs. Then the free market will be able to do its job of punishing waste — pollution is waste — and incentivizing efficiency. 

At the same time, Kennedy will support the development of emerging energy industries that have fewer external costs, including wind and solar. He believes the federal government has an important role to play in encouraging these nascent industries by building infrastructure to unleash what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “America’s industrial genius.” 

Kennedy will do so by upgrading and enhancing our nation’s power grid. The current grid is divided into 50 different public utilities that operate under arcane rules written by the fossil fuel industry to favor their dirty, poisonous “fuels from hell” and prevent competition from cheap, clean, green, and patriotic “fuels from heaven.” 

The United States has abundant wind and solar energy, but we need a better grid to connect the wind power centers of the Midwest and the solar power centers of the desert Southwest to places where that energy is needed. Just as President Eisenhower built the national highway system to drive down the cost of transportation, Kennedy will build a nationwide grid to drive down the cost of electricity.

Kennedy’s policies will allow Americans to sell energy back to the grid from rooftop solar panels and from wind and geothermal sources located on their land. Every American can be an energy entrepreneur and every home be a power plant, rather than relying on Saudi Arabian oil and Appalachian coal.

RFK Jr.’s innovative, free-market approach to energy stands in stark contrast to the policies of Presidents Trump and Biden. President Trump’s “Drill Baby, Drill” plan left no room for sensible environmental protections, and only added to the massive subsidies that oil, gas, and coal companies receive. 

President Biden, too, has lavished huge subsidies and tax credits on energy companies, enriching their billionaire owners, and he has even subsidized Big Oil companies for false environmental solutions, while simultaneously opening millions of acres of public lands and waters to oil and gas drilling.  

President Biden is also subsidizing and “fast tracking” thousands of offshore wind turbines along the East Coast, an expensive and inefficient boondoggle that is causing horrendous damage to the ocean environment, fisheries, and marine life, including whales and dolphins.

Kennedy will focus instead on land-based wind in states like Montana, North Dakota, and Texas where wind energy is cheap, abundant, less environmentally costly, and welcomed by communities that benefit from local energy development. 

He will minimize the environmental impacts of wind, solar, and electric vehicles by incentivizing development of the next generation of battery and storage technologies, which will rely less on environmentally destructive mining for rare earth metals. Replacing lithium batteries with batteries that use sodium, a more abundant and easily obtained mineral, is one such promising technology. 

Kennedy’s free-market plan will take America’s energy and environmental policy in a new direction. He will unleash a wave of energy innovation and entrepreneurship that will revive our economy and improve our environment, giving Americans access to the cleanest, most efficient, and most environmentally friendly forms of energy possible.

 

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