June 3rd, 2008


a few thoughts on energy

First, this cartoon from Red State Cartoons:

and a few thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson:

So we won’t drill off our coasts or in Alaska, we won’t build nuclear power plants, or develop shale and tar sands, or go into massive conservation modes or burn clean coal–but the House will sue Saudi Arabia? (Works and Days, May 20)

I don’t see how opposing ANWR helps anyone other than empowering those in the Middle East who intend us no good. If McCain won’t drill here at home, then he should push nuclear power and coal as transitions to the next generation of clean, renewable fuels. So far, the energy issue is wide-open since the voter doesn’t have a candidate who is clearly pro-production.

Rule Two. Find a way to branch off from Obama on the energy. Americans will support drilling off our coasts, in Alaska, burning clean coal, using nuclear, and developing hydro—if all that is balanced by calls for more conservation, and support for alternative fuels.(Works and Days, June 2)

For the last thirty years, we haven't built any new refineries in this country, and it's been almost as long since any new nuclear reactors have been brought on line. Yes, the politically-imposed inability to drill in ANWR and off the California and Florida coasts isn't helping, but the main problem is the lack of refining capability. The Republicans have never fought hard for it, while the Democrats have a large and angry constituency dead set against it. The same goes for nuclear power plants. Odd that France, that most European of nations, generates almost 80% of its electricity from fission reactors, while here in the birthplace of atomic power, only 20% of the electricity supply is nuclear. For all the song and dance about wind and solar, those two sources cannot (barring some incredible breakthrough in efficiency) begin to provide the megawatts in the concentrations necessary to power the offices and factories of America.
(Stephen denBeste discussed the scaling problems here.)

So. People will make adjustments, willy or nilly, but the price of gasoline and diesel isn't going to come down until we get some new refineries built or get enough additional generating capacity online so that a large-scale shift to plug-in electrics is practical. Given the lack of discussion on the issue by either Clinton, McCain, or Obama, I don't expect anything like that to happen in the next four years, no matter who gets elected.