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22 Jul, 2010 22:51

US Senate kills green energy legislation

The Democratic Party in the US Senate was forced to kill potential clean energy legislation because there were not enough votes for it to pass. The only changes that will remain are restrictions on offshore drilling.

A call for clean energy and for independence for foreign oil only goes so far, argued Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute.

Talk is cheap,” said Michaels. “People say, oh I care about global warming, I care about the environment but then you ask them how much are they willing to pay in order to stop this and they won’t even accept 50 cents a gallon in gasoline increase. Well, to reduce consumption 83 percent, gasoline has to become prohibitably expensive. It’s just not politically feasible.”

Michaels argued that the people simply do not want expensive energy. The reaction to previous bills on cap and trade caused public outrage.

People like to say they care, but when you ask them to pay for their care they don’t want to do it,” said Michaels.

There is no correlation between the price of energy and the revenues in the Middle East and the rise in terrorism, argued Michaels, explaining that the issues surrounding energy independence. He argued that the US simply will never be completely free of foreign oil and that the US is fueled more by coal than oil.

Michaels argued that nuclear energy is a viable substitute to fossil fuels; however nuclear energy comes with a lot of political pressure. Many who are pro-green energy are also anti-nuclear energy.

If you don’t believe in another dense energy source you’re not serious, you’re just not serious on this issue” said Michaels.

Michaels argued that over the next 100 years the US will discover new technology and energy sources that today people simply cannot image, just as technologies have been developed over the past 100 years. However, at this point in time the American people are unwilling to compromise.

Currently China and Japan are dominating the green energy market. However, China has refused to reduce emissions in the coming decades.

No Senator can go and stand in front of the US people and say we’re going to raise your energy prices, we’re going to drop all these emission and make energy every expensive. The Chinese are not and therefore CO2 emissions around the world are going to go up and were not going to do anything about Climate Change but make your life more miserable,” said Michaels.

Michael Shellenberger, the president and co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute, argued that it is quite hard to pass climate legislation in the US, not even all democrats are willing to support it. This is the fourth time cap and trade bills have failed in the US Senate.

The problem is fossil fuels are so much cheaper than clean energy and in order for you to reduce your emissions you need to reduce fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources and those, as long the technologies are, as there is a technology gap between fossil fuels and clean energy alternatives we’re not going to be able to scale up very many of those new technologies,” said Shellenberger.

Shellenberger explained that fossil fuels are so much cheaper than other sources and that they are fuels amazing fuels which built modern civilization, however they are dirty.

We need a higher priority placed on research and development of next generation technology to constantly innovate the industry in US. It is both economic and environmental, explained Shellenberger.

Shellenberger argued that nuclear power has a bad reputation, but in actually it is far safer and cleaner than fossil fuels.

200,000 people die of coal pollution every year, but a total of 50 people died from Chernobyl and maybe 4,000 additional deaths of premature deaths from Chernobyl. Nobody died at 3-Mile-Island,” said Shellenberger.

He explained that nuclear technology is improving; it is much safer and accidents are rare. Similarly, nuclear power does not equate to nuclear weapons, as is often assumed by many.

Americans have a certain way of life. A cleaner greener future will require change. Cap and trade policies are controversial, what America needs to do is invest in innovation to find ways to make change that work for a better future and for the people, explained Shellenberger.