Energy Wise

In the State of the Union President Obama said that he wants an “all of the above approach” to energy. Speaker Boehner’s response? He said that the president was impeding oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. If only he were. His lack of action on them is astonishing.

Shell has been approved for deep-water wells, and the Interior Department has even approved BP to do exploration for more wells in the Gulf! The excuse: The problem with Horizon was human error! At the same time, they have no new requirements for safety, including the problem with the valve that screwed up to begin with.

On natural gas, anyone who is paying even the smallest amount of attention would know that fracking is putting people’s health and lives in danger. And there is speculation that the number of gas wells in the Youngstown, Ohio area caused the earthquakes they experienced recently. Having grown up there I can guarantee you that area is not an earthquake zone. It has plenty of other problems, a combination of which is why I live in Denver now, but earthquakes were never among those.

If the coal companies are indeed using “clean coal” tech to reclaim Co2 emissions, more power to them. But remember where I said I grew up? Do a Google Earth search and you will see where Y-town sits. I know what coal mining does to the environment and the people who work in those mines. And the current tactics of the coal companies is to blow the tops off mountains to get to the coal reserves under them.

I am a believer in science, so I do see where new nuclear power plants are safer now than ever before. I emphasized “new” because the NRC is extending the permits of 40 year old plants. Those plants, when they were built, were designed to have a 40 year life span. Why is it acceptable to extend the permits to twice their life-spans?

But the two main problems with this can be summed up with the following: Fukashima Daichi  and storage. There are nuclear plants in California (you may recall that quite a bit of that state is earthquake country) which have the exact same design and safety plans of the Japanese plant that failed with such disastrous consequences.

And there is no real plan to deal with nuclear waste except to bury it. But state legislatures, in their best NIMBY mode, are fighting against that storage in their states, as well as transportation of the material through them. So the used rods in many plants sit in pools: exactly the way they were situated in F.D. And that worked out so well…

So, what is the alternative: wind, solar, electric? The short answer is no. I’ll explain tomorrow.


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