The best energy alternative

I wrote this guest essay a few years ago for the Canadaigua Daily Messenger in upstate New York. It was in response to another guest essay, published a week or so before, that opposed local oil and gas development without suggesting realistic alternatives. Because I'm not referencing it here, I've removed the beginning section that mentioned the original essay, but the rest is pretty straightforward: the best energy alternative (as with most consumable resources) is usually the locally produced one. The essay begins below:

"Our society demands cheap energy and will get it somewhere. We'll also do our best — whether we choose to accept this truth or not — to distance ourselves from the inevitable negative impacts.

Whether it's strip mining and mountaintop removal in Appalachia, addressing nuclear issues in New York State or any of the numerous global impacts of renewables, every energy source has downsides. We are indeed risking the protection of our health and natural resources, as Mr. Freedman so rightly warns, but only when fearmongers like him choose to focus on a few of those downsides from some of our energy alternatives and ignore the rest.

The true advantage of domestic energy production is that it's done domestically. We can watch it, regulate it, understand its needs, impacts and benefits and actively work to harness it to our communal benefit. We can be confident about exactly how the energy we use to turn on our lights is created, and we can rest assured that, since it was produced locally, it used the least amount of resources possible to reach us.

We can't do that with sources such as wind and solar that require resource inputs like rare earth metals, which are largely acquired from poorly managed, environmentally disastrous mines in Third World (ed: "developing" would have been more appropriate) regions. Even people unhappy with our domestic regulatory frameworks must agree our regulators are vastly superior to almost all of their foreign counterparts.

The same concepts form the backbone of progressive consumer movements that demand locally and responsibly produced products. Yet those are often the same people most aggressively campaigning against common sense, world-class oversight and American industry when it comes to energy production."