The national debate over energy sources, global warming, environmental protectionism and the economy has taken a lengthy hiatus while the nation convulses over health care legislation. A number of recent articles point out the absurd positions that some of the more radical advocates...from both ends of the political spectrum...have found themselves in.
The Obama administration's baby steps towards utilizing nuclear energy as a source of "clean, renewable" power by agreeing to guarantee some construction loans for nuclear plant construction were greeted with a chorus of protest from anti-nuclear groups. The same tired old arguments about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl meltdowns were trotted out. Absent, however, are the statistics about a world wide safety record of 26 years since Chernobyl which was built by the former Soviet Union with 1950s/1960s technology during the height of the Cold War. The question of storage of spent nuclear fuel is always presented as a deterrent. The question has been definitively answered by knowledgeable earth scientists (geologists, mining engineers and physicists) with the Yucca Mountain facility but implementation has been stymied by politicians. The anti-nuclear power groups' arguments are "circular firing squads" because nuclear power generates no greenhouse gases; requires no government subsidies...unless construction loans are in default and the guarantees are invoked; is renewable and is price competitive with coal and natural gas.
Apparently, Colorado is now "backing" the conversion of coal fired power plants to natural gas as a method of reducing CO2 emissions and "cleaning the air." Less than one year ago, the Colorado governor and Democrat Party controlled legislature rammed through new Oil & Gas Commission rules and regulations restricting drilling and oil and gas operations. Previously, the Governor and (former) US Senator, now Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar joined to halt or severely restrict the leasing of Federal and State lands in western Colorado that are intrinsic to developing the natural gas reserves that will be needed to fire those refitted and new power plants. Again, a somewhat circular argument seems apparent.
A new "study" by an Oregon based environmental activist group says that Colorado shouldn't use the $30 million federal grant designated for cutting and removal of our beetle killed pine forests. They object on the grounds that roads will have to be built to access those blighted areas. They argue that the dead, dry forest areas are no more susceptible to fires than the unaffected forests; that temporary roads will be more harmful to wildlife and the environment than a forest fire. Forest fires, incidentally, "emit" huge amounts of CO2 as well as tons of particulate matter.
Op-ed pieces in local and national publications tout the "thousands, even tens of thousands" of jobs that will be created by placing our faith...and tax dollars...in the new energy economy. Apparently, the key is to mandate that ever increasing percentages of our electrical power be from wind and solar. The state and federal government will then subsidize companies to build and install turbines and panels ranging in size from hundreds of feet tall and hundreds of acres down to "residential" scale. There is little mention of the coal mining, oil and gas, pipeline, nuclear plant construction and electrical power grid system jobs that will be lost. The "new energy economy" advocates persist in arguing that the spectre of man induced climate change (global warming) is "settled science" and justifies any and all measures to forestall or prevent it. Climate change predictions, similar to earthquake predictions, are only accurate to the degree of saying, "they will occur in the future." Measurements, historical records, fossil and rock records all can be used by advocates standing at any position in the "circle of debate" as "absolute proof" of their argument.