Third Party & Independents Archives

Green Energy Future?

It is possible and doable for America to achieve both a sustainable and affordable energy policy, and the ability to produce an even healthier environment. Such a convergence is not on track at this time and threatens America’s future.

It is a mistake for the public to believe all the Green ads by the likes of Exxon/Mobil, the Coal industry, and Waste Management, Inc. who are spending 100's of millions a year to shore up their public image in the face of enormous controversy over their profits and subsidies, while maintaining their lobbying against measures that would truly move energy into the Green zone, though with diminished short term profitability.

The Waste Management corporation, for example, is a leading provider of comprehensive trash and waste removal, recycling, and so called "environmentally safe waste management services". They advertise regularly featuring their landfill methane recovery to add to our energy resources. I visited one such site North of New Braunfels, Texas recently. A literal mountain of trash and garbage many stories high, with pipes coming up out of the ground to funnel captured methane into holding tanks.

One problem, for miles one can smell both the methane and stench of garbage (bacteria emitted greenhouse gases from consuming organic wastes). Which means, these mountains of buried organic materials from soiled diapers to cat litter waste to yard clippings are in fact leaking enormous amounts of methane into the atmosphere. The capture methods are incredibly inefficient, and methane is a major atmospheric greenhouse gas. It is good they are capturing a percentage of the methane, but, the fact is they are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Advertising themselves as green, is misleading, bordering on a lie. I say bordering, because if Waste Management didn't collect our garbage into landfills, we would create dumps of our own in our own neighborhood empty lots, and no methane would be recaptured in these dumps. To truly address this issue, Waste Management would have to work to end its current line of business by lobbying for an American wide effort to minimize organic waste and maximize constructive organic waste recycling.

This is why Steve Spence at Green Trust writes of a professor Seymore Garte's book entitled, WHERE WE STAND: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet :

Garte points out the fallacies in standard right- and left-wing approaches—the planet is not in imminent danger of imploding, he says, but neither will it be saved by the free market—and shows how most improvements over the past 40 years have been the result of government intervention.

The Free Marketplace has only two priorities, survival against competitors and profits. All of their actions are motivated directly or indirectly by those two motives. Any measure that will increase the cost of doing business without the benefit of compensatory increase in revenues and profits, will be avoided and fought. This is a maxim of the free marketplace. Is is very important for the American public to come to understand this basic driver in the relationship between capitalist lobbyists and government. Because if elected officials rely on the capitalist lobbyists to form public policy, neither energy independence nor a safe ecological future will exist for our children.

Coal. Coal is dirty. Coal is organic waste (carbon based), which nature buried and sequestered millions of years ago. And here we are digging it up and sending all that carbon back into our environment. Coal proponents like VP Dick Cheney and Sen. Larry Craig, are singing the praises of carbon sequestration, which is a fancy way of saying we burn or synthesize coal for energy and capture the carbon emissions and rebury them in the ground.

Mining coal remains dirty and polluting. The concept of permanently burying trillions of tons annually of coal waste gas underground without leaking back into the air of our children and grandchildren is a 'pipe dream'. We may clean the smokestacks and recapture CO2, but, burning coal releases a host of other toxic gases and they aren't on the radar in the new Energy Bill proposal.

Congress and the Bush administration are approaching this problem completely backwards. They are taking the present situation of global pollution and climate change and asking what can we do to improve it without offending or costing anyone too much. The approach that is needed is the JFK man on the moon approach. This approach specifically sets the goals that will meet the needs of the next generation for a safe and dramatically reduced cost basis for independently produced energy, and works back to the present, with investments in the research to meet the milestones to getting there, as well as making the sacrifices of choices that will keep the time table intact.

The American people may as well wait for Santa Clause to deliver a better future if they intend to await Congress and the corporations that black mail and bribe Congress to deliver such a future. Such a future will require homeowners to create their own energy with small capital investments. Such a future will require mass transit quadrupling, and dramatic changes to city and housing planning with jobs and business in the hub of housing, allowing folks to walk to work again or ride a bike. Such a future requires home based recycling of family wastes and dramatically altering packaging into reusable and recyclable products by residents at home. Such a future requires paring dependence on fossil fuels to an absolute minimum and mission critical use only.

General Motors waited until it was long past its window of opportunity to compete with foreign manufacturers delivering on smaller, lighter, and more economical vehicles for one simple reason. Annual profitability and investor demand for profits per share demanded it. So it will be with the oil companies, that the ravages of global climate change will be well upon us and them before they will accept more costly and less profitable measures. And they will never give up their position as supplier of energy for a profit in favor of individual produced energy production measures.

The people, the voters, must demand that better future for their children. That will require not a new president, but a new Congress populated by representatives committed to the voters, not the corporate lobbying interests. We all have a far more important vote this Fall than who will be president. For whoever is elected president will have to fight Congress tooth and nail to save our future.

Posted by Jeff Wyans at April 14, 2008 10:38 AM
Comments
Comment #250525

Jeff,

Let me get this straight: the present energy supply is dirty, smelling, and polluting. There are proven ways of making it better, albeithwith a significant investment of capital. But, you are advocating scrapping all of it for a totally new source? Pray tell how long before this “magic bullet” is discovered,developed, and operating?
And, what do we do in the mean time?

Actually, there is room for both present day technology(and efforts to clean it up) and the search for new ways of supplying our energy needs.

Also, I believe your comparison to our man-on-the-moon effort is flawed. When JFK made the commitment to put a masn on the moon, there was no other way of getting there, therefore nothing had to be modified or replaced. When it comes to our energy supply, that is not true.

To me. the best way to look for new sources is to encourage research with grants, tax breaks, incentives, etc. Then get the government out of the way,turn our best loose and let them go to it. I can almost guarantee that a breakthrough will be made.

Posted by: Old Grouch at April 14, 2008 11:32 AM
Comment #250526

I completely agree that working backwards from the goal is the best way to address the environmental situation.
I think that it is important to understand that when it comes to the environment the government must take a stand. Things like fuel efficiency regulations and emmissions standards are very important and do drive business, by giving them new opportunities to innovate.
However I do not agree that we should blame oil companies, they are as you said driven by profit. We cannot fault them for that, it is the essence of business. We as the consumer can only be blamed. Most people arent willing to organise or participate in a car boycott or a walk to work demostration. We can demand that they clean up their acts and make it so greener can equal profit and that the can justify a switch to their stockholders.
I think they are doing things to clean up their act, and I don’t believe it is all song and dance. But I would agree it may not be enough.

So what should tomorrow look like?

I think the biggest problem is, do people really want these alternatives? In Beijing many people use the public transit system which is huge. They have many of the things you advocate, bus lanes subway lightrail bike lanes sidewalks pedestrian overpasses, etc . However, as soon as a person can afford a car, they buy one. In America is there any economic incentive to walk to work or ride a bus? The monetary savings is low, compared with the environmental savings.
How many people think they are “above public transit”? That is a major issue.

Posted by: Jason Ziegler at April 14, 2008 11:36 AM
Comment #250529

Jeff

“though with diminished short term profitability” = “at higher consumer prices for energy”. Not to say that may not be a good trade-off, but it is a fallacy that for profit companies will be able to cut their profits and meet their shareholder expectations. That’s why we have regulations. The solution (if one is needed) is political in nature - convince the voters that the higher cost is worth the result. Seeing the level of complaints by the general population about the cost of gasoline makes me think change will be a long time coming.

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at April 14, 2008 12:10 PM
Comment #250533

Jeff,

It’s a really nice thought, being green and at the same time lowering our dependancy on foreign oil. But it ain’t gonna happen. Consider the following conversation:

1.) We need more oil. How about drilling in the ANWAR?

2.) Nope. Think about the impact on animals!

1.) OK…the how about off-shore drilling?

2.) Nope. What if there’s a spill? No way!

1.) Well, how about wind power? Windmills are green.

2.) Unh-uh. Ted Kenney’s GOT to have his view.

1.) Uhhh…how about wallpapering the Nevada desert with solar panels?

2.) Two words. Gila monster! You’ll ruin the natural habitat of (enter favorite snake, spider or animal here). Won’t happen!

1.) There’s always nuclear power.

2.) Are you crazy? Are you out of your mind? NO WAY!

1.) What if we invest in developing nuclear fusion?

2.) Forget it! We need that money to fund (enter favorite cause or pork project here)!

1.) There’s alternative fuel…

2.) That pollutes more than regular fuel! And besides that, people are starving and we need that corn to feed them!

1.) How about hydrogen to power our cars?

2.) Waaaaay too expensive! Besides it will take YEARS to have hydrogen service stations nationwide!

1.) Uhhhh…I uhhhhh….

2.) Come up with something! Give us some ideas! We need energy and we need it NOW!

1.) (Starts slobbering and babbling incoherently)


So much for “green” power.

Posted by: Jim T at April 14, 2008 12:40 PM
Comment #250534

In regards to Waste Manangement, didn’t most of the methane simply vent directly to the atmosphere before they implemented capture methods? Thus, even poor capture methods are an improvement. Can someone give me a little more incite here?

“The Free Marketplace has only two priorities, survival against competitors and profits. All of their actions are motivated directly or indirectly by those two motives. Any measure that will increase the cost of doing business without the benefit of compensatory increase in revenues and profits, will be avoided and fought. This is a maxim of the free marketplace.”

First, this is a bit of an oversimplification. All companies should be mindful of long term viability. How do they maintain profits in the long term if they destroy their customers homes/lives?

Second since industry consumes roughly 30% of the energy, wouldn’t it be wise to lobby corporations as shareholders and consumers to improve their energy efficiency? Corporations have large pools of capital which give them an advantage for investing in expensive energy improvements. In the long term, saving energy improves profits. From experience, I know these companies don’t realize some of these improvements exist, let alone are profitable. These investments have the additional advantage of bringing down the price of energy improvements for the average American.

I don’t have actively lobby anyone to enforce energy improvements/development. I get to vote every day with my hard earned dollar. The recent ethanol/food debacle has made me weary of asking the government to attempt energy policy beyond encouraging research and development.

American coal mining and coal power plants are very environmentally friendly compared to their Chinese counterparts. By importing Chinese goods, we are voting with our dollars that this is acceptable behavior. This is the primary shortfall of increased U.S. environmental regulation. It pushes our industrial production to foreign countries which lack comparable environmental standards. The end result is lost jobs in the U.S. and more toxic emissions with lower efficiency somewhere else on the planet. Is it really responsible to save our children’s future at the expense of foreign children?

Posted by: Mr. Haney at April 14, 2008 12:50 PM
Comment #250552

Great Article, Good to see something other than an article about John McCain or Barak Obama here on Watch Blog (I know this is important but their are many other important things going completely undiscussed).
A good add on to this is why is Brittan building the first tidal power plant for R&D? If the US was really interested in getting off of fossil fuels this would be a great power sourse (potential) we seem to have a very long coast of both the left and right side of the country. We could divert millions out of the terrorist hands by reducing our purchase of Oil by getting more electricity form local sources and converting a portion of our vehicles to electricity only.

Posted by: timesend at April 14, 2008 4:48 PM
Comment #250553
It is possible and doable for America to achieve both a sustainable and affordable energy policy, and the ability to produce an even healthier environment.
I think so, but not in this current dysfunctional political climate. Not as long as too many voters repeatedly reward too many irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.
Such a convergence is not on track at this time …
No, it isn’t.

And the U.S. is not alone.
China is destroying its environment fast.
Much of Siberia is contaminated.
A large part of the problem is that world population is growing by 211,000 per day!
That is all births minus deaths.

The world population is 6.7 Billion.
In 2006, there was 1.15 acres of arable land per person, world-wide (i.e. 7.68 billion acres / 6.68 billion people).
By 2039, there may be only 0.59 acres of arable land per person, world-wide (i.e. 7.68 billion acres / 13 billion people).
And arable land is disappearing at a rate of 38,610 square miles per year.

Such a convergence is not on track at this time and threatens America’s future.
Yes, the threat is real. So why are some in our government importing the impoverished, less educated, and less skilled by the millions per year?

Currently, there is rioting in half a dozen nations as food prices continue to rise.
And rising energy costs exacerbates that problem.
The U.S. is being blamed for the food shortage due to ethanol.

I’m afraid the environment, and these other abuses, and resulting economic conditions will get worse, as long as too many voters repeatedly reward too many irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates: one-simple-idea.com/CongressMakeUp_1855_2008.htm

Posted by: d.a.n at April 14, 2008 5:10 PM
Comment #250554


At least half of the voters in this country are also shareholders, large and small. We have made our bed with the corporate capitalists. They have us completely under control. We couldn’t walk away from it if we wanted to.

We are totally dependent on the foreign goods that we need to enhance our daily lives because we no longer have the ability to produce those goods in America. We don’t produce the TV’s, the DVD players, the clothes, the shoes or the pots and pans. Because of this,one could argue that we have already done a lot to make America greener. However, the gains that we have made in reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants have been more than offset by our dependence on foreign goods because we have lost the ability to green up the manufacturing process and the energy needs of those goods. Some have argued that it is unfair for America to dole out the expence to reduce greenhouse gases if the Chinese aren’t going to do the same. IMO, that arguement is hypocritical.

Don’t expect a government Marshall Plan for alternative energy sources unless it is more profitable to the energy corporations than the current system. Any government plan that might reduce profits will have an adverse effect on the profit sharing arangement that our corporations have with our politicians.

Posted by: jlw at April 14, 2008 5:24 PM
Comment #250555

Unfortunately, I think there is more of Mr. Peabody’s coal company in our future. We will probably end up drilling in ANWAR too if oil continues to go up in the same way. If it happens, it should be tied to the strictest practicable CAFE standards.

Recycling is a dirty smelly process, a tire recycling plant is one of the worst things I ever smelled. Many things that are recycled haved to be washed, which can also be a pollution source. Nobody wants to set aside land for waste disposal that could be used more profitably. Housing is even built over some landfills, and I wonder if these will be the Love Canals of the future.

It looks like Drremer found us a greener. People discussing something worth talking about! Let’s see if this thread dies after 20 posts.

Posted by: ohrealy at April 14, 2008 5:31 PM
Comment #250556
Don’t expect a government Marshall Plan for alternative energy sources unless it is more profitable to the energy corporations than the current system. Any government plan that might reduce profits will have an adverse effect on the profit sharing arangement that our corporations have with our politicians.
Sad indeed.

Guess we’ll have to learn the hard way.
The voters are culpable too.

You’d think, out of all of this massive bloat, the severely bloated government could come up with the money and a plan to research and solve this problem. It won’t be easy. And private corporations (especially oil companies) are not likely to be of any help.

And what does the Department of Energy do with its budget of $31.3 Billion per year (year 2005)?

And that is just the tip of the severely bloated iceberg …

    (01) $57.3 Billion (year 2005; with 4,487 federal employees) for the Dept. of Education (Executive Branch)?
  • (02) $371 Billion (year 2005; with 2 million federal employess) for the (www.defenselink.mil/sites/) Dept. of Defense (Executive Branch)?

  • (03) $40 Billion (year 2005; with 180,000 federal employess) for the Dept. of Homeland Security (Executive Branch)?

  • (04) $66.8 Billion (year 2005; with 67,000 federal employees) for the Dept. of Health and Human Services (includes Medicare and Medicaid) (Executive Branch)?

  • (05) $Billions for subsidies for farms (some owned and operated by corporations) ?

  • (06) $Billions for welfare for foreign nations ?

  • (07) $Billions for the war on drugs?

  • (08) $19.1 Billion (year 2005; with 109,832 federal employees) for the Dept. of Agriculture (Executive Branch)?

  • (09) $5.8 Billion (year 2005; with 40,000 federal employees) for the Dept. of Commerce (Executive Branch)?

  • (10) $31.3 Billion (year 2005; with 16,100 federal employees) for the Dept. of Energy (Executive Branch)?

  • (11) $10.8 Billion (year 2005; with 71,436 federal employees) for the Dept. of the Interior (e.g. land management, Indian arts, park services, minerals, etc.) (Executive Branch)?

  • (12) $22.0 Billion (year 2005; with 109,000 federal employees) for the Dept. of Justice (e.g. FBI, Attorney General, ATF, prisons, Tax Division, etc.) (Executive Branch)?

  • (13) $11.9 Billion (year 2005; with 17,347 federal employees) for the Dept. of Labor (Executive Branch)?

  • (14) $10.3 Billion (year 2005; with 30,266 federal employees) for the Dept. of State (Executive Branch)?

  • (15) $61.6 Billion (year 2005; with 60,100 federal employees) for the Dept. of Transportation (Executive Branch)?

  • (16) $10.8 Billion (year 2005; with 115,897 federal employees) for the Dept. of the Treasury (Executive Branch)?

  • (17) $51.0 Billion (year 2005; with 219,000 federal employees) for the Dept. of Veteran Affairs (Executive Branch)?

  • (18) $Billions for the dysfunctional Judicial Branch (e.g. Supreme Court, Courts, etc.)?

  • (19) $Billions for the dysfunctional Legislative Branch (e.g. Senate, House of Representatives, President of the Senate, etc.) ?

  • (20) $Billions for the hundreds of Independent Agencies (e.g. National Science Foundation, NASA, Federal Reserve System, etc.)?

  • (21) $Billions for the dozens of quasi-official Agencies (e.g. Smithsonian, Technology Reinvestment Project, National Consortium for High Performance Computing, etc.) ?

  • (22) $Billions for the dozens of Federal Boards, Commissions, and Committees (e.g. Appalachian Regional Commission, Commission of Fine Arts, U.S. Institute of Peace, etc.) ?

  • (23) $Billions for the hundreds of Tangential Non-Government Agencies (e.g. Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, The Food and Drug Law Institute, CSPAN, ) ?

  • (24) $Billions for the for these (acuf.org/issues/issue35/050503gov.asp) top 10 ways the federal government wastes money?

  • (25) $Billions for the hundreds of redundant programs:
    • 342 economic development programs;
    • 130 programs serving the disabled;

    • 130 programs serving at-risk youth;

    • 72 federal programs dedicated to assuring safe water;

    • 50 homeless assistance programs;

    • 45 federal agencies conducting federal criminal investigations.

And unfortunately, as the economic conditions worsen, environmental conditions will worsen too!

At any rate, the voters will have the government that they voters elect.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 14, 2008 5:42 PM
Comment #250558
ohrealy wrote: Nobody wants to set aside land for waste disposal that could be used more profitably.
There’s a good chance we will be mining our garbage dumps in the future.
Jason Ziegler wrote: I think that it is important to understand that when it comes to the environment the government must take a stand.
That may require that the voters to take as stand first.
Old Grouch wrote: To me. the best way to look for new sources is to encourage research with grants, tax breaks, incentives, etc. Then get the government out of the way,turn our best loose and let them go to it. I can almost guarantee that a breakthrough will be made.
Similar to the Manhattan project. The effort to refine uranium and plutonium was massive.

If something isn’t done, energy vulnerabilities will lead to other shortages (e.g. food water, metals, etc.), which could lead to higher food prices, food shortages, unemployment, which could lead to wars over resources.

Consider the current tensions over oil, as the demand continues to grow drastically.

  • Posted by: d.a.n at April 14, 2008 5:59 PM
    Comment #250560
    Such a future requires home based recycling of family wastes and dramatically altering packaging into reusable and recyclable products by residents at home.

    I’ve been laughed at about the ideas I’ve had concerning this priority. My idea requires the homeowner to save the last empty bottle of dishwashing liquid instead of throwing it away and expecting the grocery store owner to buy dishwashing liquid in fifty gallon drums.

    Another humorous solution was using cloth diapers instead of disposable ones. The largest volume item in a landfill is disposable diapers. Powerful cons emerge from this discussion, though. Sewage was the most prevailant.

    Of course, my four-wheeled ten-speed was the most robust humor generator!

    Let’s start with some simple cost cutting measures. Somethings that one person would do and not be notices at all but if everyone did would provide enormous savings.
    For instance…
    The check stub. Such a waste of money cutting trees and making the paper and the ink and printing it and the envelope with the plastic window. All wastefull. All unneccessary if we had a consumer based tax system instead of a worker based tax system.

    A consumer based tax system would also facilitate a tax on fossil fuels and the driving public would be able to afford that tax because the addition of the 20% of their wage taxed away added to their take home pay and also the addition of almost that same amount taxed from the the employer, would amount to a raise of 40%! What’s a little fossil fuel tax when you just got an 40% raise?! What’s refilling a bottle at the grocery store compared to $15.00 an hour going to $21.00 an hour?!

    Maybe only concentrating on and only modifying our energy policy is inadequate. An overhaul requires all parts to be replaced not just a few.

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2008 7:05 PM
    Comment #250561

    “109,832 federal employees for the Dept. of Agriculture”, should be sent out to pick strawberries.
    “60,100 federal employees for the Dept. of Transportation”, should all be out driving buses.

    On “water wars”, desalination should become a majority priority. I have always thought that there could be some use for partially desalinated water as well. Stephen Colbert had a guy on during water week with a machine that could take anything out of water. How about giving people like that grants to do useful things, instead of paying people to sit at desks staring at paperwork or computer screens?

    In FL, some towns have separate water meters for non-potable water to be used for watering lawns and plants. You pay a lower rate for this water than for the water you use inside your house.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 14, 2008 7:24 PM
    Comment #250563

    School Busses could be used for public transportation when they’re done delivering school children!

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2008 7:32 PM
    Comment #250565

    In Maine Township, IL, the PACE buses are used for the high schools. Separate buses go to Maine East and Maine West, and 2 regular routes go right through Maine South before and after classes. In neighboring Niles, they have four free bus routes, which go all over the town. These are easily accesible to people in the neighboring parts of Des Plaines, Glenview, Morton Grove, and Park Ridge. Bus routes here generally go to shopping malls and other employment centers.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 14, 2008 7:54 PM
    Comment #250566
    ohrealy wrote:
  • “109,832 federal employees for the Dept. of Agriculture”, should be sent out to pick strawberries.
  • “60,100 federal employees for the Dept. of Transportation”, should all be out driving buses.
  • What should we do with a this Congress that does the following daily while our troops risk life and limb, go without armor, medical care, and promised beneifts, while nation-building and policing Iraq’s civil war:
  • Vote for $107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail or Vote for body armor for troops without body armor ?
  • Vote for $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck or vote for more funding for disabled veterans ?
  • Vote for $150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud or vote for more armor for Humvees and military vehicles ?
  • Vote for $84,000 to find out why people fall in love or vote to secure the nation’s near wide-open borders ?
  • Vote for $1 million to study why people don’t ride bikes to work or vote to fix the levees in New Orleans ?
  • Vote for $19 million to examine gas emissions from cow flatulence or shore up the plundered Social Security and Medicare systems?
  • Vote for $144,000 to see if pigeons follow human economic laws or vote for funding for flu vaccines ?
  • Vote for funds to study the cause of rudeness on tennis courts and examine smiling patterns in bowling alleys or improve public education ?
  • Vote for $219,000 to teach college students how to watch television or vote to use that money for scholarships ?
  • Vote for $2 million to construct an ancient Hawaiian canoe or secure the nation’s coastal ports ?
  • Vote for $20 million for a demonstration project to build wooden bridges or repair our crumbling infrastructure (bridges, roads, railways, tunnels, etc.) ?
  • Vote for $160,000 to study if you can hex an opponent by drawing an X on his chest or reduce election/voting fraud ?
  • Vote for $800,000 for a restroom on Mt. McKinley or vote for better medical care for injured soldiers and veterans ?
  • Vote for $100,000 to study how to avoid falling spacecraft or vote for funding better defense systems ?
  • Vote for $16,000 to study the operation of the komungo, a Korean stringed instrument or vote for funding to fight diabetes, aids, and other diseases ?
  • Vote for $1 million to preserve a sewer in Trenton, NJ, as a historic monument or improve existing water treatment and sewer systems?
  • Vote for $6,000 for a document on Worcestershire sauce or vote for better intelligence that would prevent us from going to war for the wrong reasons ?
  • Vote for $10,000 to study the effect of naval communications on a bull’s potency or vote for communications and aerial surveillance of our borders and coastlines ?
  • Vote for $100,000 to research soybean-based ink or vote for funding to increase produce production ?
  • Vote for $1 million for a Seafood Consumer Center or vote for reform for our ridiculous tax system ?
  • Not to mention the squandered resources to address our energy vulnerabilities, water supply issues, growing economic problems, and environmental problems.

    It seems a small portion of that pork-barrel and waste could fund the research and development to of alternative energy sources and ways to protect the environment too.

    But alas, that would make too much sense, eh?
    We do not lack for numerous and good ideas.
    Congress is where good ideas go to die.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 14, 2008 7:55 PM
    Comment #250569

    The problem always involves costs. Energy alternatives are more expensive than the current energy mix. We are not stupid. People have chosen energy mix based on convenience and price. Changes, at least initially will be less convenient and/or more expensive. A democracy has a hard time tolerating this. Already there are calls to lower the price of gasoline.

    Remember this. In 2006 the U.S. reduced its emissions of CO2. Nobody (not Clinton, not the Europeans – nobody) had ever done this before in a time of robust economic growth. How did George Bush do what others could not? He didn’t. It was the price. This year it looks like demand for gasoline will drop. Why? Price. We need to use what works.

    All the calls for bigger government are misguided. Big government programs gave us the current ethanol debacle. Jimmy Carter’s synfuels would have been an ecological disaster. Thank God it didn’t work. Government can and should set goals, but it cannot and should not try to manage the economy. A carbon tax sets the goal and then lets the innovation and intelligence of the people figure out the answer. This is always better than letting the politicians micromanage the show.

    Posted by: jack at April 14, 2008 8:34 PM
    Comment #250571

    d.a.n., any links on these two? “$150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy, $800,000 for a restroom on Mt. McKinley (Denali)” Hatfield McCoy might have something to do with Marshall U.

    I skiied at Brighton in Utah, in the Big Cottonwood canyon, the water supply for SLC, and they only had outhouses. I guess somebody must have had a job removing the waste, but I wonder where they put it.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 14, 2008 9:18 PM
    Comment #250572

    We could combine two functions into one by combining schools with workplaces.
    Each workplace can provide a schooling environment for the employee’s children. Parents would get on the bus with their children and their arms.
    Allow exemptions to the “School Tax” to the employer. Whereas, the School Tax is a miniscule tax on the sale or transfer of ownership of all intelectual property.
    Insist the employer provide an education that equals the expectations of the employer, of the parent, and of the community.

    That one gets a chuckle every now and then because it’s too simple.

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2008 9:25 PM
    Comment #250573
    Already there are calls to lower the price of gasoline.

    Not on this blog!
    Some here want to tax our smog! Our charcoal barbacue grill! Our fireplace! Our firecrackers!

    Tax it, and create another commodity made of smog and charcoal and fireplaces, and firecrackers. Buy it and sell it to control the people who use that smog, grill, fireplace, and firecrackers!

    That will guarantee energy independence for the human race.
    Right?

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2008 10:04 PM
    Comment #250578

    It would probably make more sense to take off the federal tax on gasoline than to give the second rebate or refund or whatever it is. Jimmy Carter wanted zero based budgetting, but people like Bob Byrd wouldn’t allow it. Tax simplification later lost out because the housing industry and other interests wanted to keep their deductions so we could end up with unaffordable mortgages. Homes near here are still 10 times the price they cost when they were built 30 years ago.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 14, 2008 10:42 PM
    Comment #250579

    Jimmy carter proposed a windfall profits tax and so does obama.
    Jimmy gave the windfall to the banks.
    The banks screwed the farmer and took his land.
    Now they’re taking urban homes with the help of emminent domain and the IRS.
    Many of you will blame the Republican party’s temporary reign in our country’s history for this.

    It doesn’t matter. It’s a steady progression towards them getting it done. We the people are not in the way.

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 15, 2008 12:02 AM
    Comment #250582

    Jeff Wyans, stimulating article to say the least. Some fine comments too following it, in terms of ideas.

    Government gave mankind space exploration. Government gave growth to the S.W. with the Hoover Dam. Government brought the people of Appalachia into the 20th century with electricity and the TVA. Government has screwed the pooch on many a program and issue, but, anyone who says government is not an answer or is the only answer, is naive. Government can do what capitalists refuse as too risky. Government can open new futures in this way as with space exploration. But, government is dependent upon confidence and support of the people in majority to continue its existence. A government that forgets that Jefferson’s admonition

    “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.
    will become the target of it.

    But, too, there are many governing agents in our complex society and nation. The corporations and so called “free market capitalists” who insist that safeguarding the nation’s future of change requires taxpayer sacrifices offered up to the capitalists in exchange, should also become the target of voter’s and patriots ire and revolutionary tendencies.

    The greatest task before America in successfully meeting the challenges of the 21st century is putting daylight between the groins of corporations and Congress. The only way to accomplish that task is by reducing the reelection rate of Congress persons from the 90% range to the 50 or 60% range, serving notice that voters have as much or more say in elected official’s careers as the corporate donors and lobbyists.

    Jefferson today, would likely prefer revolution at the ballot box over revolution in the Capital’s streets. Obviously, our politicians oppose revolution of any kind, save for the teeter totter of Republican and Democratic Party control. The more divided and less educated and informed the public, the safer our politicians in their political seats in Congress and safe pockets of corporations.

    It is up to the people to educate themselves and each other on how to surpass this challenge and threat to our children’s future; this multi-headed beast of entrenched incumbency which seeks to preserve power and wealth over the needs of the nation and the people. They will not go quietly from our Congress in Wa. D.C., but, they must go. And they must be replaced by patriots who will reestablish the proper priority, preservation of the nation through defense of the general welfare of all the people, served by effective and enduring solutions to today’s most daunting challenges like global climate change, energy consumption and scarcity, diminishing educational quality in world of increasing educational quality demand, and corruption in government by the office holders in government.

    The notion that if Exxon-Mobil were faced with reducing its profit by investing in our future, it would be forced to recover its profit to full measure by elevating the price of its products, defies supply and demand principles. Such elevations in price would further curtail demand as we are now witnessing in America.

    The idea that the people’s representatives could demand Exxon Mobil cut its profits by 20% and invest those profits in alternative non-fossil fuel R&D is anti-American and anti-Christian, and anti-Apple Pie, is absurd. Such a move would have market effects, not all of them positive in the short term. But, in the long term, America could be saved from the authority and influence of the likes of the House of Saud from which sprang Osama bin Laden, educated and raised in part on American oil dollar revenues.

    America needs to produce and create what it needs to sustain life here in America. It can import the embellishments for quality of life all it wishes with whatever largesse it can accumulate without much harm. America must however halt this export of our sovereignty to the highest bidders or wealthiest investors in China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, or India. By sovereignty, I refer explicitly to our ability to decide our own fate without undue influence or force applied by foreign or hostile actors.

    But, this means Americans must insist on buying American made products necessary to life and autonomy. Americans must be willing to pay a bit more for them. Anyone who promises a simple answer or single solver does not appreciate the complexity of what we face. Our solutions must be participated in by all sectors of Americans and the sacrifice to achieve those solutions must also be shared by all Americans wealthy and non-wealthy, powerful and non-powerful, alike, each in accord with their abilities to sacrifice without sacrificing their human dignity or basic quality of life one would expect of working American families.

    There is no more fundamentally important job in the world than to make a product necessary for life. There is no more fundamental service job as important as providing services to those who make the products necessary for life. In America, these are often the lowest paid jobs, our janitors, waste collectors, teachers, harvest pickers, baby sitters, clothing cleaners, food preparers, packers, and grocery shelf stackers. Without these and other worker products and services, our nation would come to complete chaos within a week.

    Yet, America prided herself on competition. The very competition that refused to elevate such persons’ pay and social status, preferring instead to mechanize their production and service and ultimately export that mechanization and production capacity overseas to the people’s of other nations working to sustain their growth in population numbers.

    Something went terribly wrong with this history of America to date. What went wrong was the implied promise never kept. That promise was that the person whose job was automated or exported, would in turn receive the education and training a wealthy society can afford to increase their occupational status, and continue on as a more prosperous American worker in new areas of production and service necessary if not to life, then to quality of life for oneself and fellow citizens.

    The corporations and the American politicians failed to live up to that implied promise. And we now find ourselves all dependent upon foreign leaders, nations, and workers for the products and services we need to sustain life, from water to food, energy to transportation, and increasingly even medical care (India’s tourist health industry). And American taxpayers were never supposed to owe foreign government’s trillions of dollars of debt and interest payments for generations.

    It was never meant to be this way. And Americans are increasingly demanding that we correct this most egregious breach of contract between politician and CEO, and the American workers and their children’s future in America.

    The road back to American growth and prosperity begins with the ejection of Congress persons and politicians whose reelections have been funded by the corporations and their lobbyists instead of the American workers. The road back begins with the election of politicians committed and dedicated to changing and diminishing this most intimate of relationships between corporate board rooms and Congressional backrooms where the quiet deals are made to exclude the American people and the nation’s future from the benefits of the legislation to be writ.

    What need have multi-millionaires and billionaires of demanding people, or even a nation to which loyalty and patriotism is sworn? None! And this answer is becoming ever more evident as these wealthy persons work the future growth of their wealth in American international corporation board rooms and Committee and Caucus rooms of Congress. When America goes under, these wealthy will move from America, having scavanged all they can from her dying carcass. If you were wealthy and America were dying, would you not move your family somewhere safer, somewhere growing, some place with a future? Or, maybe you would be the rare exception that would risk all wealth and children’s future in the name of loyalty to an America long past.

    Change begins with voting for a Congressional challenger and against a Congressional incumbent. The trend has begun, though small. We have but to see it through to tidal proportions which cleanses our democratic republic of these opportunists at our expense.

    Thomas Jefferson also wrote: “the people cannot be all, & always, well informed. the past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.”

    Translated into modern English, it says: Though the people will not always be informed of the workings of powerful persons making the decisions, they can and will know when those decisions fail the people. And if they do not act in loud protest and revolt in their own self interest against those decision makers, their liberty to improve their station and lot in life, and their children’s same liberty, will be lost.

    The vote for challengers or incumbents for Congress will decide whether America continues on its current path, or turns our course about, back to what was intended, with the people in control of who is elected, not the wealthy power brokers, corporate donors and lobbyists, Supreme Court, and/or super delegates.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 15, 2008 6:10 AM
    Comment #250585

    Vote what is right
    Vote Nader
    www.votenader.org

    Posted by: Richard Rhodes at April 15, 2008 6:46 AM
    Comment #250587

    “these wealthy will move from America”, probably not, but there will certainly be more money in offshore accounts.

    Vote Cynthia McKinney instead, Nader is the past.
    http://www.runcynthiarun.org/

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 15, 2008 10:05 AM
    Comment #250610


    “Energy alternatives are more expensive than the current energy mix. We are not stupid.”

    Jack: I think we are stupid if we believe the above statement. There are a lot of costs associated with the current energy mix that are not reflected in the cost of the energy. Citizens and tax payers pay these costs without considering that they are associated with the energy sources. There are environmental costs, health costs, the costs associated with explosions and fires, and many other costs such as transportation costs and food costs. Whosesale prices soared in March. How much does a recession caused by high energy prices cost?

    Posted by: jlw at April 15, 2008 12:19 PM
    Comment #250621

    Truth about Oil & Gasoline Primer

    Recent forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that sustaining a 3.6 percent rate of annual growth in the global economy to 2030 will require an expansion of 33 million barrels per day in global oil supplies. That is an increase of 40 percent. The growth in demand for natural gas worldwide is expected to be even larger, increasing by 68 percent by 2030. Despite significant growth of renewables and improvements in energy efficiency, more than half of the world’s energy demand will be met in 2030 by oil and natural gas, as is the case today.
    It may seem surprising that oil and natural gas earnings are typically in line with the average of other major U.S. manufacturing industries. This fact is not well-understood, however, in part because reports usually focus on only half the story—the profits earned.
    The latest published data for 2007 shows the oil and natural gas industry earned 8.3 cents for every dollar of sales compared to 7.3 cents for all U.S. manufacturing and 8.9 cents for U.S. manufacturing, excluding the financially challenged auto industry.
    Contrary to popular belief, and what some politicians might say, America’s oil companies aren’t owned just by a small group of insiders. Only 1.5 percent of industry shares are owned by company executives. The rest is owned by tens of millions of Americans, many of them middle class. If you’re wondering who owns “Big Oil,” chances are good the answer is “you do.” If you have a mutual fund account, and 55 million U.S. households do, there’s a good chance it invests in oil and natural gas stocks. If you have an IRA or personal retirement account, and 45 million U.S. households do, there’s a good chance it invests in energy stocks. When politicians talk about taxing “Big Oil” or taking their “record profits,” they should think about who would really be hurt.
    What is needed today are policy choices to increase, not decrease, energy production. Barriers to oil and natural gas production only contribute to volatile energy prices, slower economic growth, and lost American jobs.
    Our nation’s past history is replete with short-term energy “fixes” and searches for “silver bullets” to solve our nation’s energy problems. Price controls, allocation schemes, limitations on natural gas, picking winners and losers among fuels, and punitive taxes have all been tried by government – and none have worked to benefit the consumer.
    What we need is a public policy framework to ensure future energy security for our nation. We need elected and appointed officials who understand the energy challenges we face. We need a greater commitment to increased energy efficiency. We need to diversify our energy resources, drawing upon the full range of energy sources, including alternatives. We also need to increase and diversify our oil and natural gas supplies, both within this country and abroad. And, we need to enhance energy technologies, remaining on the cutting edge of advanced technology. We need to get it right on energy. Too much is at stake for our nation to do otherwise.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT
    www.energytomorrow.org
    www.api.org

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 15, 2008 2:29 PM
    Comment #250651

    There is a program on wind energy which showed a different king of turbine that doesn’t loook like a propellor, and can be used on roofs in metropolitan areas, “curved, galvanized steel shaped like the double helix of DNA. This special design means that they can generate renewable electricity in the densely-built urban environment, unlike their counterparts found twirling in the boonies.”
    from:
    http://www.plentymag.com/features/2007/09/a_mighty_wind.php

    The units are still pricey, but at least it’s starting to look like something more advanced than a windmill.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 15, 2008 8:47 PM
    Comment #250655

    The mighty wind is remarkable! $3000 for a residential unit? Not pricey. It would pay for itself in 2 years and make money after that.
    Sign me up!

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 15, 2008 9:52 PM
    Comment #250657

    This could be a major breakthrough. Another guy who has an internet company had to get a zoning variance to put a vertical version of the same type of wind turbine on his roof, which would seem more efficient than the horizontal one, but it takes more to brace it. The older windmill types are even more expensive because the stand has to be strong enough to keep it in place. I’ve seen them priced at 20K here:
    http://www.windycitywindturbines.com/products.asp

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 15, 2008 10:05 PM
    Comment #250659

    I could see the vertical version of the Mighty Wind replacing some trees on my property that are right next to my garage. I would be able to plug in my z.a.p.

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 15, 2008 10:34 PM
    Comment #250663

    In CA, they are still promoting fuel cell technology, but you can’t fill up in very many places, so I don’t know why they are calling it a highway:

    http://hydrogenhighway.ca.gov/

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 15, 2008 10:58 PM
    Comment #250664

    http://www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/005933.html#250617

    Did ya see this one?

    Posted by: Weary Willie at April 15, 2008 11:43 PM
    Comment #250699

    Terrific article! Nice to finally see a Green writing for this blog.

    ohrealy, re: the mighty wind, very interesting. Thanks for the link.

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at April 16, 2008 11:51 AM
    Comment #250763

    This is the website for the company that makes the Mighty Wind:

    http://www.aerotecture.com/products.html

    The other companies that I looked at in California, Canada, and the UK all produce propellor type devices with advanced designs, that still look dangerous and unstable. The UK company wants 25000 pounds not dollars to install.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 16, 2008 10:41 PM
    Comment #250896
    David R. Remer wrote: When America goes under, these wealthy will move from America, having scavanged all they can from her dying carcass.
    First, not all wealthy people seek to abuse their wealth.

    However, these many abuses create many advantages for the wealthy, while hammering and exploiting most Americans.
    And those abuses did not all come about by mere coincidence.

    David R. Remer wrote: That promise was that the person whose job was automated or exported, would in turn receive the education and training a wealthy society can afford to increase their occupational status, and continue on as a more prosperous American worker in new areas of production and service necessary if not to life, then to quality of life for oneself and fellow citizens. … The corporations and the American politicians failed to live up to that implied promise. And we now find ourselves all dependent upon foreign leaders, nations, and workers for the products and services we need to sustain life, from water to food, energy to transportation, and increasingly even medical care (India’s tourist health industry). And American taxpayers were never supposed to owe foreign government’s trillions of dollars of debt and interest payments for generations.
    Yes.

    It was short-circuited by too much greed, apathy, complacency, irrational fear and fear mongering, delusions, ignorance, misplaced loyalties, misplaced compassions, and laziness.
    Not just too many corrupt, irresponsible incumbent politicians, but too many voters too, who that repeatedly reward those same incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.

    As a result

    • 90% of all elections are won by the candidate that spends the most money (and the main stream media is notorious for exacerbating this).

    • 99.85% of all 200 million voters are vastly out-spent by a mere 0.15% of all voters that make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more): www.opensecrets.org/pressreleases/DonorDemographics02.asp

    • Since year 1980, the voters have repeatedly rewarded the incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress with 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Incumbent politicians have many unfair advantages: one-simple-idea.com/FAQ.htm#UnfairAdvantages

    • Most voters don’t even know who their state and federal senators and representatives are, much less their voting records: OnTheIssues.org

    • Too many voters pull the party lever; many not even knowing who they are voting for, much less the candidates’ voting records.

    • Many voters think their politician is grand, even though most voters believe most politicians are crooked (e.g. like Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) who was re-elected, despite getting caught red-handed with $90K of bribe money hidden in $10K bundles in his freezer).

    • Some voters don’t like THEIR Congress persons, or THEIR party’s candidate, but they will never vote for a challenger, which is almost always in the OTHER party. This helps to maintina the incumbent politicians 93-to-99% re-election rates in Congress.

    • Too many voters are one-issue voters, making them easy to manipulate; most voters are easily bribed with their own tax dollars and have fallen for the myth that we can all live at the expense of everyone else.

    • Few voters know the size of the National Debt, much less the total federal debt, or the Social Security debt and liabilities, or the nation-wide personal debt (all nation-wide debt is about $53 Trillion which is 3.81 times the $13.9 Trillion GDP!).

    • Too many voters fall for the blame-game and partisan-warfare, because it is easier to blame the OTHER party than work to solve problems; foolishly emphasizing minor differences rather than working on unity to solve the many things most of us all already agree upon (the problem and the solution).

    • Few (if any) can name 10, 20, 50, 100, or 268 (half of 535) in Congress that are responsible and accountable. But then, perhaps that is because there aren’t any? So, why repeatedly reward them with re-election?

    • Many voters complain and give Congress dismally low approval rating, and most voters think the nation is on the wrong track (www.pollingreport.com/right.htm), but most voters still repeatedly re-elect and reward the same incumbents, giving them cu$hy 93% to 99% re-election rates.

    David R. Remer wrote: The road back to American growth and prosperity begins with the ejection of Congress persons and politicians whose reelections have been funded by the corporations and their lobbyists instead of the American workers.
    Perhaps enough voters will be less apathetic, complacent, lazy, and delusional when they are jobless, homeless, and hungry?
  • Posted by: d.a.n at April 18, 2008 3:38 PM
    Comment #251549

    The irony of this is that when you sum up the cost of current energy materials, non-green taxation, constant mining costs, all of the utility costs of repair and maintaining the current sources of energy, all of the monitoring of the enviromental hazards, the cost of cleaning ‘accidents’, and the wages of the electorates to discuss the costs of energy is ‘going green’ really going to cost that much more?

    I don’t think it is so much a cost issue as it is an matter of sloth.

    Is it so radical to say that our government and our companies won’t change to greener sources simply because it would be too much work?

    For example: not borrowing from social security, feeding starving nations with millions of tons of food we throw away, or even each individuals responsibility of raising their own kids to be good rather than just punishing when their older and lousy.

    I declare pollution to be a consequence of sloth. We could have easily fixed all this decades ago when we first started to notice it.

    We didn’t though, instead we just sat and watched it get worse. We will most likely continue to watch it get worse until it is a major crisis.

    I believe the saying goes ‘if it isn’t broken dont fix it’.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at April 27, 2008 2:38 PM
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