Fossil Fuel/Green Energy Confrontation Becomes increasingly Political

August 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Posted: August 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Economics <!–//| No Comments

It should come as no surprise that the increasing polarization between advocates of renewable energy and traditional fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) would increase in fierceness during the current hot-button election campaign.

To punctuate the increasing antagonism emerging between the two energy approaches, each side has found a home in the forthcoming platforms of the contending political parties. These will be made public at the respective GOP and Democrat conventions, around the end of August and into September. Although the current energy confrontation did not originally emerge as a political confrontation, but was centered around the global warming debate, both President Obama and presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, have taken diametrically opposed positions in their visions of America’s energy future.

As the former Massachusetts Governor’s platform has unfolded, the “87 percent solution” (coal, oil, and natural gas) has formed the centerpiece of his energy policy. This was originally presented by Professor Michael Economides, Houston University Economics Professor. Economides, a highly respected and published energy expert, predicts that the aforementioned “fossil fuels triad” will continue to form the basis of 87% of global energy usage well into the next century.

Economides looks at renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol, biomass) as peripheral. Although it will slowly grow, the Professor contends that, taken cumulatively, renewables will not exceed more than 13 percent in total usage for the rest of the century. Economides, and others who support his position, see no signs of renewables being weaned off government subsidies in the foreseeable future. Consequently, he claims that the outburst of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will move the U.S., Mexico, and Canada’s oil sands into the world energy leadership position of providing the powering resource for transportation, electric power generation, and such end-use derivatives as chemicals and plastics.

President Obama, on the other hand, is totally committed to renewables and has indicated an acceleration of this disposition, if re-elected in November. By effectively cancelling the Trans-Canada XL oil pipeline, ostensibly for environmental reasons, plus putting roadblocks in the path of “fracking expansion” on federal lands, the President has emboldened EPA Chairman Lisa Jackson to snuff out coal production in the U.S., while showing little interest in expanding domestic oil production. Even natural gas, with which the nation’s utilities are racing to displace coal is only tolerated as an interim replacement for coal. This once prevalent power generating source is expected to decline from 50% utility powering to 38% in a relatively short future time period. The gap between coal-powered shutdowns and switching to natural gas will likely trigger a number of mid-summer brownouts and blackouts.

The fast approach of the general elections in November, and their inevitable outcome, will clarify which of these alternatives will become the hallmark of America’s energy future.
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