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America’ Major Environmental Challenges Essay

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Updated: Jun 6th, 2020

Environmental Impacts of Energy sources in the US

The major energy challenge facing Americans today is the environmental impacts of the energy sources utilized in the US. Energy impacts on daily lives of Americans as well as the overall economy of the US. It also affects several aspects of the US’s foreign relations. The high energy consumption and production from non-energy efficient sources pose great environmental challenges and as such it is important to meet the increasing energy demand in the US in a carbon-constrained environment (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008).

Policy and technological changes

The US should adhere to international agreements and policies which aim at controlling carbon dioxide emissions so as to reduce the increasing energy-related costs in the US. This calls for improving the US Department of Energy’s polices on carbon capture as well as sequestration. It has to invest on advancing its energy efficient technologies in order to improve the adoption and use of clean coal plants. To achieve significant greenhouse gas emissions, the government has to invest more on innovation and deployment of technologies.

Besides, the government has to review the policies regarding adoption of energy efficient technologies power production from fossil fuels and support public as well as private sector investment in research, technology development, demonstration and implementation. Policies and technological efforts have to be reviewed to fully align them to the US and the international environmental goals. The government has to acknowledge that the US and the international community still require fossil fuels and therefore regulation procedures as well as policies governing new technologies like coal-to-liquids conversion plants have to be reviewed so as to enhance CO2 sequestration and to reduce the costs associated with sequestrating large amounts of CO2.

Policies and technologies should be targeted at reducing environmental impacts from heavy-oil reservoirs as well as oil Shales that are currently being exploited throughout the US. Storage reservoirs must adopt long-term physiochemical changes. The government has to consider developing more effective policies that would protect fragile as well as ecologically sensitive regions where energy exploitation and production as well as carbon storage takes place. This means that carbon management solutions including finding more geological storage sites have to be developed and adopted to achieve a carbon efficient environment (International Risk Governance Council, 2008).

Obstacles to implementation of policies and new technologies

In implementing policies that would enhance adoption of new energy efficient technologies, it would be difficult to deal with environmentalists who believe that fossil fuels pose great risks to the environment and human beings and therefore should be completely abolished (International Risk Governance Council, 2008). Again, those who own energy production companies as well as manufacturing companies not excluding politicians could also oppose the strict policy measures and low-carbon innovations due to the costs involved in achieving green production and emissions. Besides, politicians could argue that by investing on carbon capture and sequestration, the government would be spending large amounts of money on a small range of technologies.

Responses to classmates’ posts

One reaction was that energy policy and the energy industry has to effectively communicate risks to the public concerning the risks associated with Carbon Capture and Sequestration since fossil fuels will continue to be exploited over the next 50 years so as to achieve public acceptance. Policy regulators and production companies have to be transparent and inform the public immediately they realize that a potential risk is looming.

On the contrary, such efforts could also face negative response from the public as well as environmentalists. A significant population or interest groups are likely to use weaknesses realized during the development of technologies or policy development to campaign against carbon capture and sequestration.

Another proposal was to balance stability with predictability by developing energy policies which are flexible and can adapt to the environmental changes using new scientific information based on technical findings. This means that the regulatory bodies have to provide scientific as well as technical answers to regulatory concerns that address environmental impacts of carbon capture and sequestration. Demonstration therefore has to take place in different geological settings while ensuring harmonized monitoring as well as cross-comparison of technologies.

Licensing of storage sites could pose a great challenge since available lands are used for various economic activities. Environmentalist and critics may argue that the particular geological sites chosen could spread the risks to other surrounding regions and therefore endangering other environmental aspects and components. They may even seek court injunctions.

Reference List

International Risk Governance Council. (2008). Regulation of carbon capture and storage. Web.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2008). DOE Deputy Secretary outlines new energy challenges facing the US. Web.

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