The energy we use as a society is an interrelated function of technology, availability and price. In essence, we use the most affordable, most abundant and least technologically challenging forms of energy, primarily oil, gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric.

However, environmental groups empowered by government mandates and regulatory obfuscation, driven in part by junk science and fear-mongering, have pushed us toward new experimental and alternative forms of energy.

This, despite the fact these alternatives are not altogether cost effective, technologically feasible, or even readily available.

The more technologically difficult energy is to develop, convert and transport or transmit, the higher the price. In an economy based upon free-market competition, it becomes virtually impossible to get consumers to buy much of anything if it costs several times more than something else that works just as well for them.

So, in order to get consumers to pay more for energy supplies, environmental activists did several things.

First, they convinced the public that expensive change was good. They did this by convincing people we were destroying the planet with global warming through the use of carbon-based fuels, such as oil, gas and coal.

They convinced people that recycling nuclear fuel rods was not a good idea, nor storing that which cannot be recycled, thus casting shadows on this otherwise ecologically benign source of energy.

They convinced people that hydroelectric dams were bad for spawning fish migrations.

Finally, they sought to convince the world we were actually running out of oil, and therefore we need to make the change eventually anyway.

Another thing they did was to create a regulatory environment that actually bans the development and utilization of our traditional energy sources. Hence, no drilling off the coast of California or Alaska. No more dams. No more nuclear power plants.

The passage of Assembly Bill 32 means no more electricity from existing coal sources. Further, they successfully lobbied state government to require that our energy suppliers’ portfolio of sources be comprised of 30 percent renewables, regardless of the cost or availability.

All this, despite the fact the traditional sources are abundantly available and are the most cost-effective in regard to the price of fuel and the amount of energy derived per dollar invested.

This is not how a free-market economy is operated, and we will suffer the consequences of higher energy prices and energy shortages as a result. That is because, for instance, wind and solar do not produce seven days a week, 24 hours per day, because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

Further, these energy sources are extremely land-intensive, which means we would have to quit growing food in order to convert enough farm land to have sufficient sized solar and wind farms.

Without the government mandate, the regulatory prohibitions affecting the competitive sources of energy, and subsidies that come from the consumers, these alternatives could not compete in the market place.

One of the most inconvenient truths is that we are not running out of fossil fuels. In fact, one thing that has the enviro crowd really worried is the new technology available to inexpensively develop oil that is embedded in deep rock formations, called shale oil.

To get oil out of the shale, the rock must be minutely fractured, typically by a water jet. The enviros are claiming the process poses threats to water quality and even earthquakes. No proof whatsoever, just more hype to make you afraid of sources we have been using for decades with virtually no damage whatsoever.

Andy Caldwell is executive director of COLAB and a 43-year resident of the Central Coast. For contact information, visit the COLAB website at