What a bizarre presentation it was! President Obama's State of the Union speech, that is.
After carefully building the case the necessity, even for the green economy and energy innovation, President Obama chose to launch them using four of the energy resources that historically have prevented such an economy from happening. While gently chiding those who "doubt the evidence" that global warming and destructive climate change is real, the first four energy resources the President extolled were the four most responsible for its happening, and most likely to guarantee it continues.
The President has already decided that war is peace in Afghanistan. And even though we still have to take off our shoes at the airport, and wonder if "someone" is reading this before I even send it, we all will soon have the freedom to choose as much political advertising from the corporate-person of our choice as we can stomach. But I digress....
I suppose then, this is all possible -- when ignorance is strength. And the Congress demonstrated how pervasive this ignorance is by their applause of such an Orwellian program. It is the Big-Energy lobbyist's wet dream.
In sequential order, the President's "clean" energy innovation called for: "...building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause.) ... making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) " continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. (Applause.)." Oh yes, and eventually, somewhere, sometime wind, solar and energy efficiency.
This seems to have been the exact same sequence and priority on energy we've seen in every piece of energy legislation for the past nine years, recalling the old Firesign Theater skit, "Forward Into the Past!!" Gosh, the more things change....you can believe in!
The President trumpeting "clean, safe nuclear" and "clean coal" as our economic and climatologic salvation bears a strong resemblance to a physician prescribing no-tar, no-nicotine, low-polonium cigarettes as a sure cure for lung cancer. Just think of all the jobs that would be saved and created if only they existed. Yes, there is a difference between a goal and a reality.
No, we did not hear the President spread hopium for a sustainable energy future by urging, "But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more wind turbine factories... (Applause.) solar thermal and photovoltaic production ... (Applause.) building weatherization and insulation to save consumers money and energy... (Applause.) And, yes, it means building a decentralized, 21st century energy infrastructure based on these renewables, and a decentralized, smart and secure power grid controlled by consumers and communities (mucho gusto Applause.)."
We heard instead energy business-as-usual, scripted by energy industry lobbyists, pandering to a gutless, heavily purchased and beholden Congress. In one of the most audacious and disturbing political bait-and-switches in recent memory, we heard the energy equivalent of "Arbeit macht frei!"
So what makes these four choices so especially ridiculous?
"Building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants..." has been a Holy Grail-esque quest for 50 years, a terrific sounding sound-byte goal,incapable of existing in the real world without breaking the banki. The President who canceled the flawed and expensive Yucca Mt. high-level radioactive waste repository (correctly, in our view), now calls for the creation of more such wastes without an environmentally responsible or acceptable place to put it. And surprise, he calls for reactors that do not even exist yet to address a climate crisis that must be aggressively addressed within the next ten years.
We have only so much time and money to spend, and we can only spend it once. Since these values are finite and fixed, money spent on nuclear is money not spent on truly clean, sustainable and renewable energy resources like wind, geothermal and solar resources which are available today, out of the box, off the shelf; and which do not produce major annoyances like nuclear waste, nuclear accidents and leaks, terrorist threats, and nuclear proliferation which currently threaten nations and the environment.
As the President's own Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, said at Earth Day 2009, "We may not need any [new nuclear OR coal plants], ever....You combine all those things [the largely untapped renewables, aggressive efficiency] together ... I think we have great resources in this country, and we just need to start using them."ii (NOTE: for the ESL readers out there: what this means is, these resources already exist; they are just not being implemented, excuse me used. --dk--]
In choosing the nuclear chimera (double-meanings intended), the President instead chooses Einstein's definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.
"...opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development" suffers from several of the same problems that make nuclear and so-called clean coal a problem: by perpetuating "business as usual" energy, you delay the implementation of truly "innovative energy" resources. But worse, in this case, you continue to reward and enrich those utilities and corporations that brought us the climate crisis in the first place; and who as deniers have fought tooth and nail stating that no crisis even exists all the while adding to the nation's carbon footprint. Heckuva job, Barack-ie!
"...advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies..." also suffer from a considerable over-abundance of non-existence. Here too, not only are these oxymorons likely to suck up valuable time and money better spent on implementing already-existing renewables, but considerable evidence exists that many currently under consideration will not work at all. Both suffer from scathing scientific and environmental criticism. Both have proven economic and environmental downsides. Both were mentioned by name in the President's Address, in contrast to wind, solar and geothermal energy which were mentioned zero, twice, and zero times respectively.