Wednesday, July 13, 2005

what my Senator said

On June 30 I posted an email I sent to my Senator and Congressperson. I have since gotten responses from them. Both referred to the Energy Bill as the solution to the problems I brought up. Senator Isakson (R-Georgia) said:

As you may know, for the 10 th consecutive year the Congress is attempting to pass a comprehensive Energy Bill. It is foolish for the world's largest consumer of energy not to have an energy policy. We need to embrace the President's Hydrogen Engine initiative, expand the development of clean coal technologies, and return to a sound nuclear energy policy. These proposals coupled with further exploration of our own reserves and the development of renewable energy sources will assist in lessening our dependence on foreign oil. With the proper development of all forms of energy we can lessen the load on oil and have more reliable and affordable energy.
I would post Congressman Linder's response but I fear I threw it out. It was along the same lines.

Here are the problems with this approach:

Hydrogen: "It is only an energy carrier that must be produced from a primary energy source, such as natural gas, coal, nuclear fuel, wind or solar radiation. … There are no huge technical obstacles to making hydrogen and using it as a fuel. But a hydrogen economy would be more expensive and use more primary energy than other options. Moreover, it would require many hundreds of billions of dollars to build a storage and transport infrastructure. We should not accept President Bush's statement that hydrogen will replace oil without examining other options that are more economical and for which the technology and infrastructure already exist."

Coal: "Coal inventories at many power stations are historically low...and rail disruptions have delayed shipments of coal at a time when demand is soaring from higher oil prices."

Critics of Clean Coal say that "clean coal plants are no cleaner than older retrofitted plants" and that "the coal industry is capable of supporting its own research and development," rather than "waste millions of taxpayer dollars each year on duplicative research that the coal industry should conduct with private sector funding or that has already been done."

Nuclear: "The cost of new nuclear power has been underestimated by a factor of three, according to a British think tank." Not to mention the threats of plutonium in terrorist's hands, nuclear accidents and disposing of nuclear waste.

Conservation: This is the missing ingredient. But promoting it would be tantamount to challenging Cheney's assertion that "the American way of life is non-negotiable." Apparently politicians fear that would be political suicide. But would it? "A March 2003 Gallup pole indicates that 60% of Americans want a solution to our energy problems focusing on conservation of existing supplies over greater production of oil and gas and 73% of Americans favor increased fuel efficiency standards for cars." Maybe the real problem is the politicians' alliance.

This may mean that the burden of solving our problems will fall on us. Self-reliance at the local level looks only more important in the light of the lack of leadership on these issues. Say hi to your neighbor this week.

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