29 April 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    God is not on our side because he hates idiots also.
      The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I think that's Blondie's way of saying we need to fix the problems we've made and clean up our own messes. Over the last few days, Bush has been talking about his fix for current energy concerns.

I saved this snapshot of MSNBC two days ago because I wanted to blog about it, but was actually working. Look at the two headlines:

The juxtaposition is great. These two stories linked to a third. To me the three stories represent The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good

    If the government subsidized renewable energy the way it does oil and gas, it would be mainstream in no time.
      Mark Prebilic, Poolesville, MD

Our neighbors and we are part of a growing trend. Let me state outright that I cannot claim any credit. Sharon and our neighbor did all the work. They got the ball rolling, called the contractors, and reviewed the literature. I moved the attic fan and co-signed for the loan (which Sharon researched also). Thanks to them, solar panels are coming to our roofs. And as the article shows, we're not the only ones.

One reason we've been able to do this is a substantial rebate from the state. Mark Prebilic, who I quote above, benefitted similarly. Imagine what could happen with more funding. Imagine if all those warehouses and shopping centers had solar panels on their roofs. Imagine if we built massive solar arrays on old military bases, instead of refineries. Unfortunately, our leaders don't think like this. They have other agendas. Which brings us to:

The Bad

    A secure energy future for America must include nuclear power ... and expanding oil refineries.
      President George W. Bush
      National Small Business Conference, Washington, D.C.
    ...or you have the president's plan, which is four words: more of the same.
      John Kerry
      2004 Presidential Debate
True to form, more or the same is exactly what Bush has offered up in his energy plan sham. After paying quick lipservice to new energy alternatives, Bush laid out his main plan of subsidizing oil and nuclear power.

He cited France as the model, which was smooth because it means the opposition has to bash the French, for a change. He says they've built 58 plants since the 1970s, while we've built none. Actually, France has a total of 58, and haven't built any since 1996, nor do they plan to. The U.S. already has over 100. France's population is approx. 1/5 that of the U.S. If you do the math, that means we'd need 150 more plants. Meanwhile, we can't figure out how to safely dispose of the waste we have now. And by the way, France hasn't worked out their long term disposal issues either, so they have plenty of their own waste sitting around. Oh yeah, thanks to their investments, Electricite de France has $30 billion of debt.*

Then we get to my favorite part - the oil refineries. That's what a nation trying to reduce it's dependence on fossile fuels needs, more refineries. We need to help oil companies build more refineries. Here's what David Hamilton of the Sierra Club had to say:
At a time when oil companies are making record profits, the federal government does not need to subsidize the construction of new refineries. The current lack of refinery capacity is the result of a conscious decision by the oil industry in the 1990s to limit the supply to increase profits.
Yep, that's what we need, more refineries. Which brings me to:

The Ugly

    We can look at these sleek, stately turbines or we can look at an oil rig.
      Marie Pendzich, energy chair of the Sierra Club's Long Island chapter, regarding aesthic issues with offshore turbines
Proving the you don't have to be evil to be in the GOP, New York Gov. George Pataki is backing a campaign to build a massive wind turbine project four miles offshor from southern Long Island. I chose this for "The Ugly" because the "visual impact" of wind turbines is holding up a similar project off Cape Cod, MA. I decided to see what the fuss was about:

Honestly, is this really that bad? If you've driven the N.J. Turnpike north of Exit 12 lateley or I-93 south of Boston, I think you'll agree that this is an improvement.

I had someone at my office offer similar complaints about solar panels. The didn't like the way they made your roof look ugly. It makes me think of an Elvis Costello line, "All this useless beauty." Who cares how great your roof looks when its backdrop is brown haze. Bring on the ugly.


Sharon GR said...

The solar panels for our house should be installed on Monday. When they are, maybe we can get some pictures and see how ugly they really are.

Better yet, maybe we can get a "before" and "after" shot of our electric bill. Suddenly the solar panels will look a whole lot better.

Jeri said...

Good for you on the solar panels!

Personally, I think wind turbines are cool-looking. Kind of spooky and ominous and futuristic, but in a good way. I don't find them ugly at all, especially compared to oil refineries or nuclear power plants.

Andrew said...

I think they'd be cool for boaters - a built in slalom course.

And let me say again - Sharon deserves all of the credit.