Archive for December, 2009

Energy, Environment, AGW, and Cap and Trade

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Bill Hicks once quipped “I’m in the awkward position of being against the troops, but for the war” or something like that. I feel similarly about energy, pollution, and anthropomorphic climate change. I’m sceptical of the immediacy of Gore’s horror stories as well as his cap and trade solution, but have been concerned for years about the diminishing resources and environmental (not to mention geopolitical) impact of our current (fossil) energy reliance.

My primary issue with Cap and Trade is Al Gore. Maybe I’m still burnt by his wife leading the PMRC (and Twisted Sister wasn’t going to take it!), but I just don’t trust the man. More objectively:

  1. I fear the cost will trickle down to consumers in an already perilous economy
  2. The idea (I believe this is correct) that the credits will be traded like wall street (good time for another wall street)
  3. The fact that according to my energy providers’ (Vectren and Duke) fact sheets (linked below), the majority of credits will be auctioned off, which seems to me would benefit the “big guys” unfairly
  4. government sprawl
  5. tinfoil: micromanagement, sovereignty, etc.

Vectren Fact Sheet:
http://www.vectren.com/cms/assets/pdfs/learn_about/environmental_stewardship/carbon_fact_sheet.pdf

Duke Energy Fact Sheet:
http://www.duke-energy.com/pdfs/CapNTrade_Fact_Sheet_FINAL.PDF

I don’t think we should underestimate American Ingenuity …
I found this on Duke Energy’s web site. A product of Duke and the Stimulus, it’s a proof of concept giant battery to store wind power. Its 43.6 million dollar price tag makes my head spin, but I think that’s pretty par for utilities of that magnitude. Some Duke representative said it could be a “game changer” for renewable energy.
http://www.duke-energy.com/news/releases/2009112402.asp

The linked fact sheets say that Indiana relies on coal for 94-96% of our electricity. In addition to being a diminishing resource, coal also can “transform” a landscape and being a miner seems like a pretty hardcore job, but it’s where we’re at. That said, emission reductions have come a long way ( http://www.vectren.com/web/eenablement/learn_about/environmental_stewardship/air_quality_i.jsp#historicEmissions ) and I can’t verify this right now, but I’m pretty sure we’ve also made advances in getting more bang for our coal buck. Kicking the coal habit would be swell, but isn’t going to happen overnight. If you want to lead by example, turn off your computer.

Beyond that, even non-tree-hugging consumers and businesses are attracted to reducing energy costs. Consumer products from cars to hard drives to refrigerators are constantly surpassing their previous energy efficiencies while (hopefully) providing a comparable or superior end experience. For example, a modern flat screen computer monitor both reduces energy use and is physically less cumbersome than CRT predecessors. That said, “off” is still the most efficient state.

… but maybe we need to do something
I just don’t want it to be the product of panic. Both linked fact sheets are in favor of the general cap and trade concept, but against the “auction” concept to varying degrees. Duke has nice little flowcharts comparing their “happy” path to the proposed “sad” path. I’m cynical of huge corporations, but I can see the logic, if we need this at all.

Exxon Weighs In
In case Vectren and Duke weren’t evil(?) enough, I checked out Exxon’s site. They seem committed to powering iPhones any which way but loose.

Slightly disturbing and perhaps disingenuous is their current and projected state of renewable fuel:

Together, these three energy sources — wind, solar and biofuels — are expected to grow at an average rate of 9 percent a year, and by 2030 they will meet 2 percent of global energy demand, compared to less than 0.5 percent in 2005.”

— Wow! 2%!!

http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/energy_e_supply_sources.aspx

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