Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chicken Little

On July 4 Cliff Garstang from Cobalt6 and an occasional poster here, wrote a letter to the editor of The News Leader in which he advocated moving beyond oil to cleaner and renewable alternate sources. Appropriate that it was published on Independence Day because that is what we are really talking about here - independence from the stranglehold of other nations, from a proven source of pollution and greenhouse gases, and from a drain on family budgets and the national economy alike.
A couple of letter writers responded with the off-repeated right wing mantra of drill more and drill now. The most recent writer by the name of Shawn Allen of Harrisonburg kind of sounded like Chicken Little. He called for drilling in ANWAR and off-shore using the opportunity to endorse Janice Lee Allen (is Shawn family?) for Congress writing that she'd bring "vision and creativity." Since when does more of the same constitute "vision and creativity?" Thinking in the past rather than the future is not the way to solve problems. 
The U.S. is kind of like a junkie with an oil needle deep in a vein. More drilling just keeps up the drip, drip, drip of addiction. Like the old Fram commercial, "you can pay me now, or pay me later." If you've been a reader of CCC you've seen several posts about wind power, especially as it relates to potential wind farms in Highland County and Shenandoah County. While wind turbines present some challenges in some locations, it represents a great opportunity for clean and renewable energy. 
You may have seen recent TV ads by well-known oil man and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens promoting ideas to wean us off petroleum. Mr. Pickens says:
"this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of. But if we create a new renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil."
Pickins' believes the estimates of off-shore oil are wildly overestimated. That belief is supported by others and illustrated by the slow pace of the oil industry to explore for oil/gas in 8.3 million acres off the Florida coast that was opened up  in 2006. Guess the Allens missed that one. Cluck!
Pickens' plan calls a dramatic increase in wind and solar to generate electricity. That would free up natural gas that is currently used for electric generation to be converted to compressed natural gas (CNG) to power vehicles. He believes we might replace up to 1/3 of our fleet with CNG powered cars. The technology exists with costs comparable to current gasoline vehicles.
The Pickens' plan has attracted the attention of Carl Pope of the Sierra Club. Now Mr. Pickens and Mr. Pope aren't exactly birds of a feather, but the plan's vision and creativity has them on common ground. Pope notes a government mandate to require distribution of CNG would be necessary to assure nationwide availability (the oil industry would likely resist). Manufacturers would have to make the cars (which having fuel stations available will encourage) and consumers will have to buy the CNG cars or purchase low-cost conversion kits. Perhaps it would be sound policy for some government rebates to help ease the conversion. If we can do it for digital TV we can certainly do it for our nation's energy security.
Perhaps the Pickens' plan has some flaws and I'm sure he's looking to make a profit on his huge wind farm in Texas. There is nothing incompatible about going green and earning profits. But, it represents the kind of original thinking and consensus building necessary to move the United States into a new era of energy independence. As Carl Pope said, 
"To put it plainly, T. Boone Pickens is out to save America."
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP NEEDED: more vision and creativity and less "the sky is falling."
Just added this 11 minute YouTube clip: T. Boone Pickens explains the problem and his plan.


Scotty said...

There is a Public Discussion Forum For Pickens Energy Plan : It would be great if you participate there.

Anonymous said...

Is shawn allen her son?

Anonymous said...

I would to respond to your most recent post about Janice Lee Allen. You mention Picken's new renewable Energy Network "We can break our addiction to foreign oil". Janice also proposes alternative energy research. Are you implying that both lack "vision and creativity"?

I believe that Shawn Allen is a distant cousin to Janice Lee Allen and feels like many Democrats and Republicans, that Janice Lee Allen is qualified to represent ALL OF THE PEOPLE of the 6th District. I recommend that you read the entire contents of the letter before you post. If you have any questions, she can be contacted at In the meantime, I'll be talking to you soon on Colbalt 6.

Robin Waller
Democrats for Janice Lee Allen

truth-teller said...

Why do people like Robin Waller assume that anyone who is critical of her candidate's position, or of a shallow letter in favor of her candidate, hasn't read the whole thing. There's not that much substance to it--reading the whole thing doesn't take long. But Waller misses the part where Janice Lee agrees with the "drill here, drill now" philosophy, which is based on bad science and incompetent economics. Yeah, she likes wind and solar power, too. Who doesn't? It's the worshipping of oil that marks her as foolish.

Anonymous said...

Response to Truth-teller:

I propose a possible solution to our country's energy crisis: Perhaps we could figure out a way to bottle your hot air. The self-appointed Democratic gurus like you
are backing a nonviable candidate who denied speaking words quoted,
promised a retraction and apology,
participated in an unethical (possibly illegal) gasoline giveaway and, oh yeah, those incessant poses with the U.S. flag
waving in the background, oh please.

By the way, the next time you sign up for a blog, maybe "sour-grapes"
would be more suitable name.

Belle Rose said...

Cliff Garstang, whose original letter sparked this discussion, sets Shawn Allen straight .