BLOWING HOT AIR UP OUR SHORTS:
Federal Renewable Energy Mandates Make Good Ad Copy, but Lousy Policy
By Paul K. Driessen
We’re “the Saudi Arabia of wind,” he argues. We need to “overcome our addiction to foreign oil,” by harnessing wind to replace natural gas in electricity generation, and using that gas to power more cars and buses. If the U.S. Congress would simply “mandate the formation” of wind and solar corridors,” provide eminent domain authority to seize rights-of-way for transmission lines and “renew the subsidies” for this energy, America can make the switch in a decade, he insists.
Pickens’ $58-million media pitch makes good ad copy, especially in league with Senator Harry Reid’s absurd claim that oil and coal “make us sick.” However, his policy prescriptions would bring new energy, economic, legal and environmental problems – and a price tag of over $1.2 trillion.
Hydrocarbon fuels built modern America, gave us the technologies and living standards we enjoy today, helped us eradicate diseases that plagued earlier generations, and boosted U.S. life expectancy from 50 in 1900 to nearly 80 today. They still provide 85% of our total energy, and we could greatly reduce our reliance on oil imports, if we would simply end the outrageous policies that keep our nation’s abundant energy resources locked up.
We have enough oil, natural gas, oil shale, coal, and uranium to provide power for centuries. We have a growing consensus that we need to drill, onshore and offshore. But partisan intransigence and ridiculous environmentalist claims prevent us from utilizing these American resources.
Wind contributes more every year to our energy mix. But it still provides only 1% of our electricity – compared to 49% for coal, 22% for natural gas, 19% for nuclear, and 7% for hydroelectric. Moreover, we will need 135 gigawatts of new electricity generation by 2020, but only 57 GW are planned.
We can and should harness the wind. But 22% by 2020 is far-fetched.
Wind power is intermittent, unreliable, and expensive (even with subsidies). Many modern wind turbines are 400 feet tall and carry 130-foot, 7-ton, bird-slicing blades. They operate at only 20-30% of rated capacity – compared to 85% for coal, gas, and nuclear plants – and provide little power during Summer daytime hours, when air-conditioning demand is highest, but winds are at low ebb.
Using wind to replace all gas-fired power plants would require over 300,000 1.5-MW turbines, covering Midwestern “wind belt” agricultural and wildlife acreage equivalent to the acreage within the boundaries of the State of South Carolina.
Building and installing these turbines requires 5 to 10 times more steel and concrete than is needed to build far more reliable coal or nuclear plants to generate the same amount of electricity, says Dr. Per F. Peterson, Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and Chairman of the University's graduate-level Energy and Research Group. Add in steel and cement needed to build transmission lines from distant wind farms to urban consumers, and the costs multiply.
It also means many more quarries, mines, cement plants, and steel mills to supply those materials. But radical Greens oppose such facilities. So the Pickens proposal would mean letting existing power plants rust, and importing steel and cement, instead of oil.
Since adequate wind is available only 3 to 8 hours a day, we would also need expensive gas-fired generating plants that mostly run at idle, kicking in whenever the wind dies down. That means still more money, cement, and steel – and still higher electricity prices.
A successful speculator and corporate raider, who critics say never actually found oil, Pickens has large natural gas holdings that position him to make billions from selling gas for backup electricity generation – especially if drilling bans remain in effect, keeping gas prices in the stratosphere. Launching the enterprise with the backing of federal mandates and subsidies minimizes his financial risk and attracts semi-free-market investors, by putting the risks for his scheme on the backs of taxpayers. A $58-million ad campaign could pay 100:1.
Pickens says we can’t drill our way out of dependence on foreign oil. But that’s true only if we keep our best prospects off limits to drilling. Open ANWR and the OCS, and the situation changes dramatically.
Unfortunately, Greens and Democrats refuse to budge on these options – no matter how soaring energy prices batter poor families, workers, small businesses, Meals on Wheels, and the automobile, airline, tourism, chemical, and manufacturing industries. Environmentalists and partisan Democrats are equally opposed to oil shale, coal, and nuclear.
A single 1000-MW nuclear power plant would reliably generate more electricity than 2,800 1.5-MW intermittent wind turbines on 175,000 acres. Permitting more nukes would meet increasing electricity demand for a growing population and millions of plug-in hybrid cars.
Coal, too, offers affordable, reliable fuel for electricity and synthetic gas and oil, with steadily diminishing emissions. With 27% of the world’s total coal, America is the Saudi Arabia of this vital resource, too. America needs more coal-fired plants, to avoid the widespread brownouts that analyst Mark Mills says will be commonplace if we don’t build them.
Between 1970 and 2006, coal-fired electricity generation nearly tripled – while NOX emissions remained at 1970 levels, sulfur dioxide pollution fell nearly 40% below 1970 emissions, and fine particulates declined to 90% below 1970 levels. In a few years, power plants will emit only water and carbon dioxide, the two dominant greenhouse gases of Climate Armageddon hypotheses.
Al Gore, James Hansen, and various legislators claim fossil fuels are destroying the planet. But these charlatans are increasingly on the fringes, whereas countless experts point out that we have far higher priorities than speculative climate monsters; the economic costs of climate bills like Warner-Lieberman would be staggering; and the global CO2 and climate benefits of US economic suicide would be imperceptible.
32,000 scientists have signed the consensus-busting Oregon Petition, saying they see “no convincing scientific evidence” that humans are causing catastrophic climate change. The American Physical Society reopened its debate, because many of its 50,000 physicist members disagree that evidence for global warming is “incontrovertible.” The Manhattan Declaration has been signed by 200 skeptics “highly trained” in climate science. And Lawrence Solomon’s book, The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud, makes a compelling case against climate hysteria and the tactics of its practitioners.
China is building two new coal-fired power plants every month, to power electricity-hungry homes and businesses. India too is charging ahead with hydrocarbon-based energy. Its new National Action Plan on Climate Change disputes man-made global warming fears and says the nation is more concerned about saving people from poverty than from climate change. Oil-rich Arab countries are also looking at coal.
“Political leaders,” says journalist Barun Mitra, “can no longer afford to sacrifice the poor today for the sake of the rich tomorrow.” Neither in India, nor in China, Europe, Africa or the United States.
It’s increasingly obvious why Al Gore, James Hansen, and Harry Reid are becoming more hysterical by the day. People are catching on that the hot air they’re trying to blow up our shorts is no basis for economy-killing cap-and-trade rules or ecology-killing forests of unreliable wind turbines.
We need to safeguard access to the opportunities created by abundant, reliable, affordable energy. We need to safeguard such access as a fundamental right of people the world over.
The Earth's Natural History, Global Climate Changes,
& the Future of Human Life & Civilization on the Planet:
Science, Ideology, & Public Policy
Political Economy -- Philosophies, Systems, & Public Policies:
Government, the Economy, & Economic Prosperity
Paul K. Driessen is Senior Policy Advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality, the Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow, and the
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. Driessen is author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, which can be
obtained at www.Eco-Imperialism.com.
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor