TOP TEN ENERGY MYTHS & SOLUTIONS
I started working on this during the preliminary
phase of the 2008 presidential campaign as I once
again witnessed the failure of the political process to
look in a substantive way at energy issues.
I realized we were likely headed toward a continuation
of the old politics of energy in which first one side and
then the other makes incremental gains in their agenda
while the nation suffers.
My hope is to help refocus and improve this
debate in the future. Writing this has been challenging
and it has forced me to take a ard, critical look at my
own views on energy and my performance as Energy
Secretary and to do the same with respect to the performance
The result is a book that tried to outline both the
failures of the past and a plan for the future, while recognizing
that there is plenty of blame to go around.
We Can Achieve Energy Independence:
America’s oil production is 5 million barrels a day but our consumption is nearly 20 million barrels a day. We are importing 60% of our oil. Until we end our foreign dependence America must use renewable energy and alternate forms of fuel.
If Gas Prices Rise Abruptly, It Must Be Due To An Oil Company Conspiracy:
Easy to claim that however the truth is oil and gas prices are only now catching up to the overall rate of inflation over the last quarter of a century, since most other liquids (milk, boutique bottled water, etc) already sell for well over $3 a gallon.
Global Warming Is A Hoax:
It’s unrealistic to think that we can ever know with absolute certainty that global warming is really happening since scientific proof involves controlled experiments. Nor is there any argument that the earth’s temperature has risen over the past three decades. The real question is whether the two are related. Regardless of which side you come down on, though, the notion that all the scientific evidence suggesting Carbon Monoxide is a potentially serious issue is a hoax is absurd.
Nuclear Plants Are Just As Unsafe As They Were At Three Mile Island:
Since the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, the nuclear industry has improved their safety regulations astronomically. Reactors run for years without having to be shut down. In the past twentyfive years all of America’s reactors have experienced less than 50 shut downs total. Which is why I have no hesitation saying it’s time America built more nuclear power plants.
Renewable Energy Is Universally Popular And Completely Safe For The Environment:
For all the seemingly great ideas like wind energy, there are arguments from other groups, such as animal rights organizations, which have an argument it is harmful for wildlife where the wind turbines would be places. For those that argue that solar is the way to go there is the argument that these large panels will block out light for the area underneath them thus having an effect various ecosystems. And hydroelectricity has its share of enemies for those who fear the environmental effects damming can cause. Essentially there is a cost, in many ways, to the argument that renewable energy is free energy that bears no environmental impact.
We Are Entering An ‘Age Of Natural Gas’ That Will Follow The Ages Of Coal And Oil, And It Will Largely Solve Our Energy Problems:
By some estimates we may have enough natural gas to last 125 years if we use that energy buried in the shale formations of the Barnett Shale formation and the huge Marcellus formation, among others, but we msst be careful as "bubbles" can occur, in this case, the speculated amount is greatly overrated. It's workth using but best not to put all our eggs in the natural gas basket just yet.
Raising CAFT Standards 30% Will Produce A 30% Reduction In Oil Comsumption:
When the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiench standards were first adopted they helped raise auto average mileage from 15.8 miles per gallon to today's 27.5, a 73% jump.
But our oil consumption has also risen 33% during that period and the number of miles Americans drive per year during this time frame has nearly tripled. Greater fuel efficiency may have actually encouraged some of this increase tempting drivers to travel more.
Electrical Transmission Lines Cause Cancer:
It is the NIMBY factor (Not In My Back Yard) that led to the myth that close exposure to power lines cause cancer. With this fear there has been a huge lag time since America updated its power line grid. It is now a frail and outdated grid (remember the 2003 eastern US and Canada blackout?). Electrical engineers are now refering to America's electrical grid as "a third world grid".
Time to upgrade.
All The Government Has To Do Is Choose The Right Energy Technology And Subsidize It:
We tried this idea with ethanol. Farmers loved this notion of another form of revenue until everyone saw how much energy was required to grow the crops that would be turned into ethanol nevermind the price of food going way up because of this. Even tropical farmers have been burning rain forests and switching crops in order to ship biodiesel to Europe and America, proving that for every magic bullet solution there are numerous hidden costs and consequences.
All We Need Is A New Manhattan Project To Solve Our Energy Problems:
The belief that we don’t have to build better power lines, dig for oil and natural gas, refine coal to be a clean energy source, or build more (and safer) nuclear power plants since all we need to do is put our top scientific minds in a room and let them figure this out is not realistic. Today, we don’t even have a theory that suggests where to look for some new source of energy we haven’t tried yet. There is no such “Manhattan Project” style easy fix in the offing. We must instead improve greatly what we already have.
About the author:
Spencer Abraham authored “Lights Out” from St. Martin’s Press.