This commentary originally appeared in The Midland Reporter-Telegram on September 2, 2014. 

Texas and the entire country stand at an historical crossroad of two incompatible forces. On one side is the game-changing upsurge in oil and gas production achieved through technological innovations first developed in Texas. On the other side is federal climate policy to supplant oil, natural gas, and coal – now supplying over 80 percent of U.S. energy.

Simply put: The transformative power of energy now faces the coercive power of government. If not denied by the political powers, the energy opportunities created by the shale revolution would confer profound benefits for human welfare and geopolitical stability: jobs, increased income, rebirth of “made in America” manufacturing, and national security — including a basis for geopolitical security in Europe — now perilously dependent on oil and natural gas controlled by Vladimir Putin. 

The federal government’s increasing regulatory efforts to decarbonize our energy supply are not only economically damaging, they are also are futile. EPA’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan would mandate a re-engineering our nation’s entire system of electric generation to lower CO2 emissions by only 30 percent. Yet, this would only reduce supposed global warming by an immeasurable 0.01 degrees Celsius in 2050 according to the science endorsed by EPA. When this inconvenient data was brought to EPA’s attention, the agency admitted its power plan won’t stop global warming, but said it will symbolically demonstrate to the “international community” that the United States is willing to make sacrifices.

This is how EPA would justify a complete overhaul of the electric power supply of the United States, deep-sixing the coal power on which 40 percent of U.S. electric generation depends? EPA has announced it will soon propose CO2 regulations on refineries. And consider the Sierra Club's “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign — modeled after their regrettably successful “Beyond Coal” campaign now used by EPA as a regulatory template.

It’s time to get real about energy and distinguish myth and theory from hard facts. To this end, the Texas Public Policy Foundation is convening a Summit in Houston this September. Called “At the Crossroads: Energy and Climate Policy Summit,” this gathering will include internationally acclaimed speakers to help those with most at stake to take stock of the scientific, economic, legal, and moral  issues surrounding this pivotal issue of our generation. When the hard facts about energy are set beside the politically manipulated, speculative science of man-made global warming, energy — and those who produce it — are the winners for mankind.

One of the Summit’s most compelling doyens is Mark P. Mills of the Manhattan Institute. He recently offered a poignant reminder of the world’s need for energy realism. “Every realistic scenario,” Mills writes, “sees the world consuming more, not less oil and gas in the future. As for alternative energy, even if the hyperbolic goal of supplying all new global demand were met, the world would still consume 40 billion barrels of oil and natural gas annually.”

Mills takes stock of “the astonishing quantities of hydrocarbon resources” that U.S. entrepreneurs have unleashed only within the last few years. According to Mills, the volumes of this newly gained energy abundance would not only revive the U.S. economy but could end the Russian and Middle Eastern monopoly on oil and gas, so needed in Europe and elsewhere. He offers a refreshing dose of realism by showing that 2 million barrels of American oil sent to Europe per day would reduce by one-half the European Union’s dependence on imports of Russian petroleum. U.S. production has increased by three million barrels per day in a mere four years. If the federal government would allow even modest access to the oil and gas on the millions of acres of public land, the United States could handily afford to export to our European allies now caught within dangerous new geo-politics created by Russia.

Energy is indeed at a crossroads. The choices our state and country make in the next few years will define not only our energy future, but also the economic future of our nation.

Kathleen Hartnett White is Distinguished Senior Fellow-in-Residence & Director, Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation