By a regular person with nothing but reasonable Energy Costs to gain.
Just last week I posted From The Energy Front: Florida House Says DRILL. It has brought out pretty good discussions here and elsewhere. One post I really would like to highlight. I was discussing this issue over at the Tom Sullivan Radio Listener's Club, when another member, Christian Carpenter posted the following.
I think we need to come to a national consensus as to why we need to change our energy policy. I know this sounds obvious, but I don't see that on a national level. Maybe I'm just not paying attention.
Some people just want to get off foreign oil, so that we aren't dependent on nations who use the profits to fund terrorism against us, which I strongly agree with. Some are completely against the use of any and all fossil fuels because they believe it damages the environment. Some don't think we need to change at all. I think if we identify a national consensus as to why, then that might help steer us in the right direction. I know that may sound obvious, but when I see, hear and read the news, often I see people arguing over a misunderstanding and are actually arguing the same points. They continue to argue just because one's a democrat and the other is a republican, or whatever and they won't give in to be perceived as defeated.
I personally am for whatever works and maintains our standard of living. The environmental issue, to me, is a non-issue for a couple of reasons. First, I don't believe in AGW, so, as far as I'm concerned, there is no reason to switch from fossil fuels to alternative sources. Additionally, I don't think fossil fuels are as limited as some experts say they may be. As far as I can tell, the natural cycles and processes that initially created fossil fuels millions of years ago are still working today. I have no reason to assume the earth is not still producing fossil fuels today. Despite the fact that we are using known sources faster, we are still finding new sources of the black gold at a time when the "experts" are saying the world's supply is drying up. Further, we are now able to tap old sources, that were considered "dried up" because of new technology.
Now this is not to say I'm against alternative sources, but only that I think it should be market driven. If someone wants to continue researching it on their own dime, because they think it' worth while, God bless them. I think limited grants from the gov't would be worthwhile for that too.
If, after all your research and hard work, you present a car that runs on water and costs $20 a year to maintain and gets reasonable performance, and doesn't have to be leased only because it's actual cost is like a million dollars (like the hydrogen car from Honda), I'll be the first to jump on it and you'll be the next bazillionaire because you worked so hard to present something that people want rather than a hydrogen Yugo that the gov't has to force on you.
Second, oil companies have been, at least somewhat environmentally friendly for years and not necessarily because they love the environment, but because it's good business. Even if they aren't forced to clean up a mess, spilled oil is lost profits. That isn't to say the government shouldn't enforce reasonable safety standards on the oil companies, but that there is a motivation to not spill and pollute; lost money. Let's remember too, that oil naturally seeps up from the ground and ocean beds; nature creates her own little oil spills constantly. So to say the risk of even the smallest spills on the environment is too much to take doesn't really hold up. You are also 5 times as likely to incur and oil spill from a tanker than an oil rig. And the environmental "foot print" of the oil infrastructure has been shown to actually be beneficial to wild life in many cases.
For instance, when the Alaska pipeline was being put in, a lot of wild life experts were afraid it would adversely impact the animals along its path. After it went it, the opposite happened and the caribou population exploded. It turns out the heated pipeline plummeted the calf mortality rate of the caribou who huddled under them in the winter.
New wells have a very small "foot print" and most wild life pay them no attention as they graze the fields next to them. Having been stationed in Alaska, I was able to observe this first hand. The pipeline ran right near Donnelly DZ at Ft Greeley and every time I trained near there, non of the animals seemed to be bothered by the pipeline. That isn't to say that putting in oil fields will not have an impact on the environment, but I don't think it is nearly as much as a lot of environmentalists claim. And, I think if done in a reasonably educated way, will greatly minimize the impact to almost near zero.
As far as alternative energy goes, I'd like to point out that many AGW alarmist scream that we need to go to alternative energy to minimize or reverse AGW buy reducing CO2 output, but fail to see that some alternative sources, such as hydrogen and nuclear, put out lots of water vapor, which is a much more significant green house gas than CO2. They also fail to point out that the natural processes of the earth put out far more CO2 than all of man combined, all of which make up less than 1% of the atmosphere. Yet more reasons, I believe, AGW is much hype and very little substance.
As far as nuclear goes, I'm all for it. Like fossil fuels, you get a lot of bang for the buck and France (France people! Come on!) has a lot of nuclear power generated and it seems to work just fine. 3 mile island is always mentioned as an argument against nuclear, but I think it is a dated argument, no longer pertinent to the strides in technology and safety we've made today. Actually, I think, in many ways, 3 mile island is a success story in that, due to safety standards and technology, we prevented what could have been a Chernobyl.
Hydrogen is far from being practical, but let those who want to continue to research it if they like, who knows, maybe some day it will work.
Alcohol fuels take far more energy to produce than they put out. And most ethanol producers are now in financial dire straits because it's not profitable. Further, the amount of corn it would take to reasonably fuel this country would literally take up most farmlands in use. Then that would reduce the supply of food and raise their costs and cause shortages. Then in cases like Iowa, where much of the farmland was flooded, you'd have energy and food crisis largely based on the whims of weather.
Wind is almost laughable as a source. I live near Livermore and anyone who has seen the miles and miles and miles of windmills that have been there for 20+ years knows that it is not a serious form of energy. It is too inconsistent and doesn't in my opinion return the power for the investment. All of that land taken up, all of those huge windmills, and we still cannot generate enough power just for the residents in California. And, as Boone T Pickens found out, unless it's being subsidized by the gov't it's not really profitable.
Solar? I've looked into that for my house as well. Who wouldn't want there house to be energy independent from a free source of energy?! Well, here in the California central valley, where it stops raining in April and you don't see a cloud in the sky until at least late September, the estimates are about 30k-40k for installed solar panels and it only supplements the power from the grid. I don't think that is practical for the investment.
Battery powered cars? Beside the huge expense associated with them, I am told that the batteries actually cause more pollution to make them than if you just stayed with a gas car. That doesn't make any sense to me. They take energy to recharge, presumably from power plants that run on fossil fuels. They're far from putting out the same performance as gasoline engines and the have the potential to explode like a friggin' IED. As if gridlock wasn't bad enough, now we might have cars exploding on the freeway.
I think everyone has to get together to come to an agreement on if we should change, why, and that will steer us in direction of how and what. But, I don't think everyone in this argument (nationally speaking) is being totally honest in their arguments as to why we need to change. There is a lot of evidence suggesting that many who want us to change want us to do so, not because of environmental or energy reasons, but because of ideological and political reasons. Some of them have a lot to gain in this regard. We have a lot of freedom and prosperity to lose in this regard. And that's what bothers me the most about this. The President of the Czech Republic I think has a keen insight to this when he said, in so many words, that environmentalism, with all of it's proposed controls and potential damage to economic prosperity, is the new communism. I agree with him and until all intentions are revealed completely, I don't think we'll ever agree, as a nation, on a consensus.
I could not have said it better myself. This is an excellent post and proof that more and more average Americans, the everyday folks like me and you, are paying attention. Great post Christian. Thank you.