Now that the U.S. House has voted on H.R. 2454, the American Clean Enenergy and Security Act of 2009, and the Senate is loosely scheduled to take up their version of the legislation later this summer, a number of corporate media outlets have written something up on the effort to do something about how energy use will shift. One such article, “Energy legislation could bring deep change” is one such article. Unfortunately, like many other articles, it messes up on a number of key points.
Let’s start with the biggest problem: it omits any analysis on what would happen if the legislation hadn’t passed. Leading up to the vote, very little of this kind of information could be found via the largest media entities, which is an incredible disservice to news consumers. How are people to determine if the projected costs are worth incurring if they don’t have any similar numbers on what costs of inaction would be? The information is available through a number of reliable, non-partisan outfits. Today’s “journalism” is disappointing.
Next, read this paragraph:
Not all the higher energy costs would show up in people’s utility bills. Households, as well as business and factories — including those, for example, making plastic for toys — could use less energy, or at least use it more efficiently. The poorest of homes could get a government check as a rebate for high energy costs. That money would come from selling pollution allowances for industry.
Um, using energy more efficiently means that less energy is used for the same activity. That’s a pretty basic concept that isn’t unique to this context of energy. The fact that the article messes this point up is particularly glaring: the greatest amount of short-term cost reductions will be found by implementing higher energy efficiency technologies that are available today. Indeed, so much energy efficiency is available for us to take advantage of that total energy usage should decrease in the next 20-30 years, even with additional population. Our electricity system, for example, wastes the vast majority of energy it is supposed to deliver to users. That electric grid needs to be completely replaced with newer, better, more efficienct technologies. So households and businesses should have every reason to support this portion of the legislation – decreasing energy demand will decrease energy costs. Will energy utilities pass those savings along to us?
The article goes on to point out that the complication to carbon sequestration from coal plants will be citizens’ hesitation to do so “in their backyard”. This is absurd since there has been no demonstrated technology capable of even capturing the carbon from coal plants on a utility scale in the first place, despite being researched for over 20 years. Where to store something you’re not even collecting is a ridiculous question. Moving on to cite potential citizen complaints about that stored product is even more ridiculous. The icing on this cake is no similar statements are provided for nuclear waste after the article points out that the nuclear industry will receive billions more dollars in funding. That’s a product that is being generated today, and indeed nobody wants in their backyard – for obvious reasons. Until the nuclear industry can demonstrate it can safely store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands to millions of years, they shouldn’t expect taxpayers to foot the bill to subsidize their energy production.
The article doesn’t point out that the true costs of nuclear power aren’t included in the electric rates charged to consumers – Americans that don’t receive nuclear power are included in the corporate subsidization of taking care of the details under the rug. These kinds of practices must stop. Let’s get every energy source put their true costs on the table – as the mis-labeled “free market” is supposed to do. Let’s get the government assistance out of the way and let each technology truly compete against one another. Americans would quickly realize that clean energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal look pretty darned attractive in the long-term. The article’s refusal to mention anything close to this is telling.