GAS PRICES TOO HIGH? BURN CLEAN U.S. COAL
By Dennis T. Avery
President Bush’s corn ethanol mandate has nearly doubled the world’s food prices, while producing only a tiny amount of low-grade automobile motor fuel.
The Senate is meanwhile debating the Lieberman-Warner bill, which would deliberately tax gasoline and every other fossil fuel more and more heavily until we stop using them. That’s to “save us” from global warming.
The most foolish “solution” of all — the new law that lets us sue Arabs (we have zero jurisdiction) to force them to produce more oil, while we sit on billions of gallons of oil and thousands of American jobs, refusing to drill in our own backyard.
The most logical answer to high gasoline prices has to be coal. We have centuries’ worth of coal, and we have clean-burning systems, such as fluidized bed combustion. But we’ve been retiring the old coal-fired power plants, and burning scarcer oil and natural gas in our power plants. That has driven up both natural gas and gasoline prices. Hybrid cars conserve a little oil, but shifting the power plants to “clean coal” would conserve a lot more of it.
Instead, the Eco-Department of Kansas has just forbidden the construction of two new coal-fired power plants because they would emit greenhouse gases. Governor Sibelius has backed up the environmental regulators.
Texas has been forced to drop plans for several new coal-fired plants as well.
Kansas and Texas are naïve. In Europe, they’re openly burning more coal already. German coal burning was up 3.5 percent last year, never mind Kyoto. Britain is building a whole generation of new coal-fired plants to keep the lights on with a minimum of Middle East oil and Russian natural gas.
California wins the Hypocrisy Medal, as it brags about its small carbon footprint, while letting Arizona and New Mexico burn California’s coal just over the border, and paying the transmission costs back to California.
In the longer run, when we come to our senses, nuclear power will be a big player; but it will take a long time to get new nuclear plants on line. Nor is it clear what they will cost, even if we can rein in the Green lawsuits that seem to have paralyzed both the courts and the Congress.
Don’t blame Big Oil. Countries own their oil — and the U.S.A. won’t let U.S. workers produce it in this country. Don’t blame the Arabs for the Greenpeace plan to scuttle “clean coal,” along with every other viable energy source. Don’t even blame Congress, which foolishly tries to represent our own ambivalence about cars, energy, and “conservation.” Is leaving coal in the ground part of conservation? And what are we conserving it for, if we refuse to use it as energy?
The crowning irony is that NASA now says the Pacific Ocean has entered a 25–30 year cooling phase. The last time this happened was from 1940–1975, when we had moderate, erratic global cooling. The climate science shows a 79 percent correlation between our temperatures and sunspots, but no correlation with CO2. This means CO2 cannot be the dominant factor in our climate. So, the high gas prices, the reliance on foreign oil, the loss of American jobs in the oil and coal fields and potential jobs in the nuclear field are all for naught
Political Economy -- Philosophies, Systems, & Public Policies:
Government, the Economy, & Economic Prosperity
The Earth's Natural History, Global Climate Changes,
& the Future of Human Life & Civilization on the Planet:
Science, Ideology, & Public Policy
Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., and is the Director of the Institute's Center for
Global Food Issues (www.cgfi.org). Formerly he was a senior policy analyst for the United
States Department of State, where he won the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement. He is the co-author, with
atmospheric physicist Fred Singer, of the book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years (Blue Ridge Summit,
Pennsylvania: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). Avery's book, Saving the Planet With Pesticides and Plastic: The Environmental
Triumph of High-Yield Farming (Washington, D.C.: Hudson Institute, 1995), continues to be popular as a readable overview
of realistic agriculture for the future and for today. Readers may write Avery at Post Office Box 202, Churchville, Virginia, 24421.
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