Drilling for Clean Energy?
Bipartisanship, perhaps an oxymoron already, brings us an apparent oxymoron: "Drilling for Clean Energy" from Representatives Jim Marshall and Roscoe Bartlett, writing in the WaPo:
...a strategic plan to use the remaining value of our federally owned oil and natural gas reserves to fund a clean, affordable and independent energy future for America, a goal worthy of short-term environmental concessions and risks.
Their idea is to open up ANWR and offshore for drilling, but under changed financial terms that would capture more of the revenues for the federal government, and ensure that the money goes to develop solar, wind, nuclear, and "better" biofuels.
Now, some questions (and not all are rhetorical, some are genuine requests for those who know to chime in):
Are Marshall and Bartlett hell-bent on drilling, and just trying to seduce and undermine the opposition?
Why talk of "short-term environmental risks" only? That sounds kind of minor, not really worthy of consideration by our wise, far-sighted legislators. Aren't there also important long-term risks, such as total destruction of civilization as we know it?
They discuss the estimated federal revenue ("trillions of dollars"). What happened to the environmental risks? Aren't they worthy of discussion? What about the contribution to global warming? Is there any way to estimate it? What would the units be? Kilograms of carbon emitted yearly at an estimated burn rate for the oil and gas, as a percentage of yearly global emissions? Degrees centigrade of warming per year, with a comparison to the expected warming if the oil and gas remained sequestered?
What about estimates of the other risks (oil spills, habitat loss, what else?).
What about the federal leases already granted but never drilled? Shouldn't this plan be applied to them first? How do the estimated yields compare? How about the environmental risks there; are they bigger or smaller?
Marshall and Barlett write:
The United States can be virtually free of fossil-fuel use within a few decades -- if we pursue this goal aggressively.
Isn't it a good thing that a future without fossil fuels is part of a bipartisan vision? But how many decades is "a few"? How many decades before the U.S., indeed the world, ceases to be recognizable because of global warming?
Is this more or less important than Sarah Palin's uterus and propensity for bullying librarians?