Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunshine Today

Update: The postponment of the pipeline approval is official now, and attacks have already begun from GOPers on the issues of jobs and energy.  They are also asserting that this was a decision based on electoral politics.  With his crowing of victory, McKibben is playing into that perception.  It's worth mentioning that though the President made the final decision, the recommendation to postpone came from the State Department.  They want to consider all the factors.  From their statement: "After obtaining the additional information, the Department would determine, in consultation with the eight other agencies identified in the Executive Order, whether the proposed pipeline was in the national interest, considering all of the relevant issues together. Among the relevant issues that would be considered are environmental concerns (including climate change), energy security, economic impacts, and foreign policy."

While I've joined in the call to stop the pipeline, I recognize--as apparently environmentalists who seem capable of congratulating only themselves do not--the other considerations, and the questions that have not been answered.  One of these has to do with the impact on the Climate Crisis, if Canada decides to exploit their resource anyway and sell the energy to China.  I'd like to hear that addressed.  And it would be nice if the Obama administration got a little credit for taking the political heat for pulling back from a project that at least looked like it could generate jobs in hard times.  

Several news outlets are reporting that the Obama administration will postpone a decision on the tar sands pipeline from Canada for at least a year, which means among other things until after the election.  It will still probably emerge as a campaign issue but not as prominently, and perhaps a better final decision can be made outside the heat of that kind of politics.

Meanwhile, progress towards ending such dependence on fossil fuels continues.  California has passed a milestone in solar energy--one gigawatt installed, joining five entire countries in solar capacity.   Paul Krugman has added his economically inclined voice to, well, mine, in championing solar energy as the energy source of the present-becoming-future:

"We are, or at least we should be, on the cusp of an energy transformation, driven by the rapidly falling cost of solar power. That’s right, solar power. If that surprises you, if you still think of solar power as some kind of hippie fantasy, blame our fossilized political system, in which fossil fuel producers have both powerful political allies and a powerful propaganda machine that denigrates alternatives."

Which of course the Koch Brothers are all about, and the GOP, which is a mostly owned subsidiary of fossil fuel industries.  Krugman points out that one of the fossils with a new look--fracking--violates the principles that GOPers chant incessantly:

"So it’s worth pointing out that special treatment for fracking makes a mockery of free-market principles. Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy. They say they oppose having the government “pick winners,” yet they demand special treatment for this industry precisely because they claim it will be a winner."

But despite the fossils who prevent the scale of investment in solar energy that a sane nation would insist on, the cost of solar energy is dropping rapidly and Krugman writes that it won't be long before electricity generated by the sun will be as cheap as that generated by coal.  That of course won't stop the fossils from pouring their billions into disinformation and worse, but it will persuade the 99%.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed this is a gutsy call. Us canuks still have a lot to do to keep the tar in the sand.
most enviros here thank Obama and recognize the courage this has taken.
Thank you Mr. President

Cousin Lemuel

PS I'm in