Click the image above to order the Junkman's: Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams.
Lights out, America?
Thursday, February 7, 2008
By Steven Milloy
The lights may soon go out in Washington, DC -- and it could happen where you live, too.
“Electric power has already become painfully expensive in Washington and its suburbs. Now, local utilities,
say, it could become something even worse: scarce,” reported the Washington Post this week. Maryland,
for example, may face rolling blackouts as early as 2011 or 2012 on summer days.
The core of the problem is that the region’s ability to meet its ever-increasing demand for electricity is
being short-circuited by environmental activists who are doing every thing they can to make it as difficult as
possible to generate and transmit power.
“Environmental groups say the region should try harder to save energy before it goes out looking for
more,” the Post reported. “The cheapest power plant out there is the one you never have to
build,” one activist told the Post.
The euphemism the environmentalists use for this strategy is “conservation.” But “rationing” is
perhaps the most honest descriptor.
... continues below advertisement:
The environmentalists’ new tactic in their war against us meeting our basic energy needs focuses on
coal-burning power plants, which are at the top of the list of carbon dioxide emitters. “Increasing
electricity almost inevitably leads to more global warming emissions,” an activist told the Post.
And the activists have used global warming fears to great effect.
“Stymied in their plans to build coal-burning power plants, American utilities are turning to natural gas to
meet expected growth in demand, risking a new upward spiral in the price of that fuel,” the New York
Times reported this week.
Since environmentalist-fomented opposition to coal plants is rising around the country -- including a new
policy by major banks Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley to discourage coal-plant construction --
utility executives say they have little choice even though the boom in natural gas demand will send
electricity prices even higher, according to the Times.
Once again, “environmental groups argue that utilities should focus on cutting demand for power, rather than
building new capacity,” the Times reported.
One possible way out of the global warming-angle of this mess, is to capture and sequester carbon dioxide
emissions of power plants. Although this column recently
reported about the difficulty and expense of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the Bush
Administration has nevertheless been participating in a project called FutureGen, a futuristic, zero-emission
power plant. The federal government was slated to pay for 75 percent of FutureGen’s costs.
But just last week, the Department of Energy announced that it was pulling out of FutureGen, after costs
skyrocketed from $800 million to $1.8 billion. Undersecretary of Energy C.H. “Bud” Albright told FutureGen
officials that the agency wasn’t interested in “building Disneyland in some swamp in Illinois.”
With FutureGen off the drawing board, at least for the time being, there are no significant CCS projects
ongoing in the U.S. -- meaning that carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants won’t be captured
in the foreseeable future.
Without a plan for CCS, environmental zealots will then be able to continue their anti-energy jihad against an
essentially defenseless coal-based electricity producers and their consumers.
Of course, coal-based electricity producers and consumers aren’t really defenseless. They could (gasp!)
challenge the dubious notion that manmade carbon dioxide emissions drive global climate -- click
to view a video on this subject -- rather than just accepting politically correct myths that have been
rammed down their throats without, so far, meaningful opportunity for debate.
It’s an idea that’s worth considering, especially given the apparent lack of understanding of the climate
issue, even among those who aspire to be president.
In response to a question on global warming during the last Republican presidential debate before the Super
Tuesday primaries, for example, Sen. John McCain declared that, “I applaud [efforts] to try to eliminate the
greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Now, suppose that [I am] wrong, and there's no such
thing as climate change. And we adopt these green technologies… Then all we’ve done is give our kids
a cleaner world.”
But if we rush to blindly adopt greenhouse gas emission controls, we could disrupt energy markets and cause
much economic harm. And in real life, a poorer world tends to be a dirtier world. Moreover, since carbon
dioxide is a colorless and odorless gas that naturally makes up a very small part of our atmosphere and since
manmade carbon dioxide is an exceedingly small part of total global carbon dioxide emissions, it’s hard to
see how reducing emissions will make the world “cleaner.”
Sen. McCain continued, “But suppose we do nothing…and we don't eliminate this $400 billion dependence we
have on foreign oil. Some of that money goes to terrorist organizations and also contributes to greenhouse gas
emissions. Then what kind of a world have we given our children?”
Earth to Sen. McCain: U.S. coal-fired electricity doesn’t put a penny in the pockets of Middle East oil
producers or terrorists. In fact, inexpensive coal-fired electricity could one day power vehicles so as to
drastically cut down on gasoline use and the need for the oil imports that concern him.
If we don’t have serious debate on these issues, the combination of unscrupulous anti-growth
environmentalists and uninformed grandstanding politicians will certainly lead to lights out for America.
JunkScience.com is updated every weekday. Items from the main page are moved to the archives.
Links should be good for at least the date posted. After the posting date, link reliability depends on the
policy of the linked sites. Some sites require visitors to register before allowing access to articles.
Material presented on this page represents the opinion of JunkScience.com. Copyright -- 1996-200
JunkScience.com, Inc. All rights reserved on original works. Material copyrighted by others is used either
with permission or under a claim of "fair use."