On Helping Republicans, Or, Next Time You Need A Bad Idea, Try These

I have spent a number of years complaining about the interactions between Democrats and Republicans, but after the recent events involving the Keystone XL and civil liberties cave-ins, I’ve decided it’s time to stop complaining and embrace the madness.

But I also feel like there’s an ugly edge to all this…that hasn’t really been fully exploited.

I mean, Republicans have tried to force through a lot of disgusting ideas this Congress as they’ve held various bills hostage, but it seems like, if they really tried, they could do so much more.

But I’m not here to complain, I’m here to help; that’s why today we’ll be trotting out a few ideas of our own that Republicans can attach to bills throughout 2012, with the assistance of certain errant Democrats.

It’ll be fun, it’ll be festive, but most of all…it’ll be an exercise in Civic Responsibility, and in these difficult times, that’s something we could sorely use.

1) Above all, the needs of the army need to be taken into consideration. For instance, it will scarcely be possible to avoid, here and there, leaving behind some trade Jews who are absolutely essential for the provisioning of the troops, for lack of other possibilities. But in each case the proper Aryanization of these enterprises is to be planned and the move of the Jews to be completed in due course, in cooperation with the competent local German administrative authorities.

--From a planning document written in 1939 by Reinhard Heydrich, as reported in the book Documents of the Holocaust, edited by Yitzhak Arad, Israel Gutman, and Abraham Margaliot

So let’s start with the economy: the Census Bureau tells us that nearly half the population is now poor or near-poor, and something needs to be done. With that in mind, I’d propose the “Economic Freedom and Upward Mobility Act” (HR 4377), which would establish a series of military catapult sites along the US border where carefully selected poor folks would be given, literally, economic freedom and upward mobility, even as we instantly reduce the number of impoverished persons in the United States.

Civil rights are important, but not at any cost; that’s why the “Election Cost Control Act” (HR OU812) would allow States to empower local officials to preselect winners in various elections, saving the taxpayer the time and expense of having to count the votes for all those losing candidates.

Messaging matters, and there’s no reason Republicans have to be the bearers of all the bad news: Mississippi Congressman Hatesem Lotsabunch confirmed to me in a phone call yesterday that he will take my suggestion and introduce the “Voter Education Act”, which would require President Obama to wear a giant red, white, and blue dog whistle on a thick silver chain every time he appears in public between the date of passage and November of 2012. (For the record, I actually suggested a gold chain; he thought that was a bit “uppity”.)

We have a serious immigration problem, but I think we can take a page from the Newt Gingrich playbook and introduce the “Guest Worker Protection and Identification Act” (GWIPA).

Here’s the idea: Gingrich has proposed creating a class of persons (“worker residents”?) who are allowed to live and work in the USA, but are never going to be allowed to have US citizenship. The problem is that it will be impossible to quickly tell who is a legal worker resident and who isn’t. Under GWIPA, government-issued armbands would be provided for all legal worker residents to hold their photo ID; as long as they always wear the armband, they’ll be protected from having to show papers to law enforcement officials as they go about their daily business.

Governors as diverse as Rick Perry, Jan Brewer, and Robert Bentley have demanded that the Federal Government finally get serious about “securing the border”; the “Nuclear Assault Mine/Border Legislation Act” (NAM/BLA) is my “if you’re crazy enough to support Rick Santorum, why not this?” proposal to make that happen. The new law would order the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to work together to develop, manufacture, and deploy small “assault-sized” nuclear land mines along the Mexican border as a way to deter illegal immigration.

"Well you look perfectly idiotic in those clothes!"
"These aren't my clothes!"
"Well, where are your clothes?"
"I've lost my clothes!"
"Well, why are you wearing these clothes?"
"Because I just went GAY all of a sudden!"

--Cary Grant, as David Huxley, from the 1938 movie Bringing Up Baby

Finally, let’s take a moment and consider one of the vital social issues of the day.

It is apparently still possible to lock down some GOP votes by going “hard negative” on the LBGT community, if what I’m hearing from the candidates is to be believed (I was particularly struck by Mitt Romney’s ability to twist on this issue: in the last GOP debate, in one single sentence, Romney said he felt there should be no discrimination against the LBGT community…but that there should be no same-sex marriages), and I have a proposal that allows the GOP to appear to be moving to a better place while ensuring that nothing ever changes at all:

The “Mitt Romney Legal Access Beyond Intimidation Act” (MRLABIA) would do two things: it would repeal the Federal Defense of Marriage Act – and, in the Mitt Romney tradition, it would also add a new provision into law that prevents same-sex couples from entering into contracts for the purposes of marriage, thus ensuring “a perfect flip-flop, every time”, as they might say on an infomercial somewhere.

So there you go: instead of relying on the usual “poison pills”, I’m challenging the GOP to try out a few of these ideas – and I’m also challenging much of the American media to try and tell the difference between some of these ideas and the present reality; just at the moment that won’t be easy, and, all humor aside, I think that might actually be the saddest part of this whole exercise.


it was quite a surprise to certain republicans...

,..when they found out what "tea bagging" was; imagine how long it will take before they stop supporting the basic concept of nam/bla?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I think the Keystone Pipeline is necessary.

It will help us achieve energy security and will bring the nation needed private industry jobs that are not government related. This will help our economy. I don't understand why reasonable people would be opposed to it.

i'll take that question.

folks in nebraska became concerned about the route of the pipeline because it passes right over a major aquifer, and there is no environmental review law in nebraska (well, there wasn't; now there us). as you might imagine, folks there want some kind of assurance that the water they drink and irrigate with won't be contaminated.

and that's the next issue: what's in that oil? in order to move oil derived from tar sands through this pipeline, you have to add various chemicals that make this oil more "contaminatable" if it should spill...and it will...so that's not good.

but none of that addresses the truly big question: what is energy security, really?

i would suggest to you that every day we burn oil, every day we don't run away from oil at full speed, every day we lock ourselves into a product that will forever be more and more expensive...we're less secure.

as it is now we're paying about $300 billion a year/$25 billion a month to import oil, and that can't be making us more secure; importing oil from canada is still importing oil - and it's still sending the money right out of our economy.

if india and china want to chase after what will soon be $200 a barrel oil, let them, but we would be a lot more secure if we were producing lots more electric power here to drive vehicles; we would be more environmentally smart to get off coal as well.

jobs? it doesn't take that many people to actually build a pipeline (the estimates seem to be settling in at around 5000 to 6500), and it takes even fewer to maintain one once it's built.

on the other hand, we could employ many times that number just throwing up windmills, and it's a pretty fair guess we would employ more than that down at the nissan leaf factory (which just happens to be in tennessee), which could take that windmill power and translate it into transportation.

oil is a dead end, it ain't making anyone more secure - and if all the arguments we've heard already weren't convincing enough to get your attention, consider that once the pipeline is built, there's nothing that ensures the folks at the downstream end won't just load the oil on a ship and sell it to the highest bidder...which means after all this is over, we still might not be be any more "secure" - or less so - than we are now.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Seems like a low estimate....

for employment. I remember seeing that number from the State Department, like they know a lot about construction right? As a comparison over 28,000 people were employed to build the Alaskan pipeline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construction_of_the_Trans-Alaska_Pipeline_S...

The pipe doesn't make itself and the welding of pipe together requires labor. I can see where this would be large boost to the economy at a time when we need to put people to work.

The fact is our economy needs oil, maybe we can wean ourselves off at some future time but we can't now. Those Chevy Volt cars are not cost effective. I won't buy one will you? Right now we simply don't have a viable alternative to oil. So there is no need to beat ourselves up over it, just continue researching alternatives but deal with reality in the present time.

There is a risk to the environment in every thing we do, mitigating the risk is what engineers and contractors do. So all of the issues with any aquifers can be dealt with in the design.

Obviously this is good for our security by cutting down on our reliance on oil from the volatile middle east. This is a win for everybody. It makes so much sense to build it.

so start with the estimates:

department of state is on this because it's an international issue, but they get access to any technical assistance they need, and we can all see the work and complain or compliment as appropriate. the 6500 number, on the other hand, is keystone's, and i would suggest it's probably the highest likely number of workers we'll see.

why 6500 now, and 20,000 in 1970?

well, start with productivity gains: hr won't need file clerks (computers took care of that), and there are a thousand other ways we see productivity gains impacting job sites; beyond that, doing a project like this in the lower 48 reduces the need for workers as you shorten the supply chain and work in weather that doesn't look exactly like "ice road truckers". (fun fact: the dalton highway that alaska's ice road truckers use was built for the alaska pipeline job.) there will be "near-arctic" work...but those will be canadian jobs, not usa jobs.

(by the way: ever seen an automated pipline welder? that's more jobs no longer needed.)

the reason you don't grant permits and them design a pipeline is because the design itself might create problems that can't be addressed by the permitter in advance; the same kind of thinking gets you nuclear power plants built on earthquake faults that were discovered during build and a nuclear waste repository that will leak into the groundwater through the basalt that makes up yucca mountain (which, of course, is why we are now abandoning that project after many billions spent).

alternatives to oil?

most americans drive less than 40 miles, one-way; that is well within the range of several battery-only cars that are on the market today (the leaf is the best known, more are coming), and with the installation of a few hundred thousand charging stations we will be on our way.

as for the volt: the technology (small engine operates at a constant speed, turns generator, powers wheel motors) has been around in locomotive form for 75 years, and it will be relatively easy to scale this down in price as production goes up. (consider that a variable-speed engine and transmission with driveline is not that inexpensive to build either; the volt's engine is cheaper to build and it has no need for a tranny or driveline, and a "ford fiesta-sized" version of this car could even run on an air-cooled engine.) take out the nice seats, and the nice stereo, and the luxury trim package, and that volt might become a $25,000 "malibu-like" vehicle that gets better than 50 mpg - except for the first 40 miles after a charge, when it uses no gas at all.

where do we get the power for that? solar is getting cheaper real fast (that's actually what killed solyndra: a cheaper solar technology has come along), and wind today, right this minute, blows out power as low as $.04/kWh, which is cheaper than most anything other than coal and hydroelectric, even if masses of windmills will create their own problems...and lots of maintenance employment.

oil is not security, and sending $300 billion a year out of the country ain't either, even if a lot of it is to canada. and that $300 billion...it's going to go up, inevitably.

ask yourself this question: should we wait for gas to get to $5 a gallon before we "cut the cord"? $6? If we don't act, those prices will come, and when they do, we'll wish we had.

finally, consider this: we are spending $800-900 billion a year in defense budget, and a lot of that is oil-related, either in the form of direct spending in a place like iraq and afghanistan, or in the form of defense agreements that require usa troops to be ready to defend someplace like the saudi oil fields. getting out of oil brings that money back home, and it also makes the saudis responsible for their own repression, instead of making us just as responsible.

sorry...one more point: you'll soon be able to buy a battery-powered mitsubishi for about $22,000 - and that car will save an average driver almost $1500 a year on gas. (it's reported it costs about $3.50 to "fill up" the car for 100 miles vs. $8.00 for a hybrid car that gets 50mpg.)

that's a real thing, just about to come to market (it's out in '12), it goes 60 miles on a charge (it can be recharged in 15 minutes at a charging station), and it will never use a drop of gas...and if you can keep it driving for 15 "average driving years"...it actually pays for itself in gas savings.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Still don't trust the State Dept numbers

I have some experience in the construction field and that automated welder works in the shop, not in the field. No I don't trust the State Department data, they don't have a clue how to run a major project. There are reams of examples on projects where they have wasted our taxes. That's a long project over several states, I'm thinking the State Dept is low, but whatever, we need the work.

The Chevy Volt has been a failure due to explosive safety concerns and due to cost. The taxpayer is on the hook for $250,000 per car. Solar energy is not cost competetive, sorry that is the fact. Sure the price of cells has come down but you still have to convert the DC to AC. Windmills have been a failure in killing birds and in just not working.

I wish there were alternatives to fossil fuels but right now there are none. I drive a diesel myself and have been looking into making my own diesel fuel from cooking oil.

On balance I believe the keystone pipeline would be a major positive for us both economically and for national security.

a few comments:

--state department is not running anything here, except for a permit review, and as someone with construction experience i assume you can discern between the two functions of permit review and general contracting with relative ease.

--there are a number of automatic "in the field" pipeline welding systems, including the weldcrawler and the passo tsa; in the two linked videos you can see them in action.

--as for alternatives: the volt is going to have to be designed with a better battery enclosure, but that's no big deal, and it surely doesn't "fail" the technology, which, as we previously noted, has been in use for more than 75 years (in fact, every diesel-electric locomotive on earth is just a great big chevy volt).

of course, we also have all-battery designs, and besides the leaf (of which there are already lots on the road) and that mitsubishi, you can now pre-order a '12 ford focus all-electric, or a fiat 500, and kia will do a limited korean release of their own all-electric in '12.

and then there's tesla, which may just have a really good 2012.

--we're again covering old ground, but public utilities operate wind farms all over the usa, which is prima facie evidence that such alternatives exist. have you been following the gop debates? even rick perry will tell you that wind farms are good business, and he's proud that texas is the national leader in wind farming.

--no matter how you slice it, oil equals insecurity, plain and simple.

want a couple examples?

the us navy maintains at least three carrier battle groups in and around the straits of hormuz at all times, and we're now opening a new base at adelaide, austraila, so that we can support at least one other battle group for operations around the straits of malacca. that's 1/3 of the "surface combat navy", more or less, and there are another couple of battle groups to "rotate" them; put it all together and that's half the surface navy on "oil patrol".

think of it as a hidden tax on gas; add to it the cost of keeping how many troops and how much prepositioned gear ready for mideast combat?

who attacked us on 9/11? 19 saudis, that's who. and how did we treat sdaudi arabia after 9/11? did we light them up just like we did afghanistan? nope. did we invade? did we topple the government that provided aid and funding for our attackers? nope.

now why would that be?

you think it might be because we're addicted, and they're our dealer?

that, my friend, is oil insecurity, and as long as we're still addicted, we'll still be insecure. keystone doesn't fix that; instead, it makes the problem worse by delaying the inevitable.

if you're addicted, more accessible heroin ain't the way out of your problem. instead, you gotta quit, and that's where the usa is right now.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Cost effectiveness needs to be a consideration

Since when does the State Department do permit reviews? Isn't that the job of the EPA? Sounds like there is duplication of effort. There is a lot of that in our government. The Corps of Engineers is also involved with permitting.

The automatic welding sounds interesting. I don't believe that it has proven to be cost effective for construction yet in every case. In power plant construction, they still use labor to do the welding.

If we can keep our energy supply in this hemisphere, we don't need all those carriers and other ships over near the Arab world. This pipeline does that. In addition our reserves of natural gas are higher than previously known.

I remember reading that the wind turbines in Minnesota were having problems in freezing of their bearings in the winter. It goes without saying that wind turbines are cyclic energy supply and not base load due to the variability of wind. Does the bird killing of the wind turbines bother you?

Does it bother you that the first cost of battery cars is so high? At least the Chevy Volt is. It requires $250,000 subsidy per car.


That puts it way out of my price range. If the cost could come down, I could see them becoming a good commuter car, not one to use for traveling though.

New energy sources have to be balanced on cost to the consumer. With our federal deficit being as high as it currently stands, we cannot afford the open checkbook any more.

so right off the bat:

we are importing about half of the 18 million barrels of oil we use every day, and that's because there actually aren't any saudi arabias left out there, despite what canada would tell you.

we'll get a bit of oil out of there...but there is no doubt that oil is a finite resource, and that we cannot extract enough to fulfill our own needs for all that many years, much less china's and india's as well...and even if we don't care about the effects of climate change.

in the end, it's a lot like arguing in 1890 about whether whale oil is still the fuel of the future.

so...how do you deal with the irregularity of wind?

distribution of generation is one way (it's almost never not windy everywhere), you throw in other sources of renewables (solar is coming fast, believe it or not), you put rooftop generation to work (which, again, is already rolling out), and you supplement with fossil fuels when there's no other option available.

winter and windmills?

there are a variety of prop aircraft that operate in temperatures that a windmill in minnesota would consider mild, and they do it with far higher levels of applied stress at the bearing; if they can do it, windmills are certainly fixable.

do i worry about the effect on birds?

yup...just as i worry about the effect of acid rain on birds, and the effect of climate change on their habitat, both of which are far bigger issues than windmill deaths have proven to be so far.

cost of batteries?

we are all worried that "big lithium" will take over from "big oil", but a123 is the big american entrant in the game, and the more we have this stuff built here, the better, if only because it will take the issue of currency fluctuation off the table.

beyond that, this is all about economy of scale, and if you don't believe me, consider the evolution of rechargeable and "swappable" battery technologies in areas like tools and entertainment devices: they've all started out expensive, and a billion or so units later, they're selling this stuff at the discount stores. automotive batteries are more similar to tool batteries than you might think (a123 is the world's largest maker of batteries for tools and the tesla battery supplier), and as with most things technology, high price is a function of newness.

finally, a note about that $250,000 figure you keep quoting: if you just take a minute to think about the variables in the problem, you'd realize that the only way you can make such an estimate is if you know the total number of chevy volts that will ever be sold, and you know that the same r&d will never be applied to any other project.

since neither of those facts can be known today, the estimate is invalid on its face and cannot be accepted as factual.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I so admire your patience

in dealing with a person who, if history is any indication, will cover his ears and deny the logic of logic. Such is life in a world of faith-based fantasy.

Good on you, Fake. And happy holidays to your and yours. Thanks for a steady presence in our little fishbowl.

it's a pleasure...

...to swim with the fishes, and for what it's worth, no snow this year, unless we want to go chase it down - but my fancy new shovel thinks this no snow situation is like a present all its own, and i'm not disabusing it of the notion.

patience? seems to me that what we've been trying to do here is paying off now, and i love talking to the frank burns-sses of the world, especially as there is a larger audience looking at this same conversation.

the tea party is facing its own case of "buyer's remorse", all of a sudden, and if you think about it, we've pushed the entire country in our direction, even as they have scared so many with their own behavior; all that said, i hope frank finds a good place and that people who are reading this see what makes sense and what doesn't.

which is all kind of a long way of wishing all y'all a great holiday season, too, and i can't wait to see what's coming next.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Have there been other Christmas' without snow?

Of course, weather is cyclic as we all know.

I like your name by the way, Fake, it fits. I use my real name as I have nothing to be ashamed of.

I know you all think and hope the Tea Party will just go away, but I don't think there is much chance of that. The Tea Party just might rescue us and keep us from destroying ourselves by over spending. Certainly most Americans are in agreement as evidenced by the recent wave elections.

I'm also looking forward to 2012 as I see good things finally happening to bring this geat country back.

you don't like anonymous speech?

are you not aware that common sense was published anonymously?

and it wasnh't just paine, madison, et al: did clemens use his real name? voltaire?

to help make the point, consider that the cato institute and the aclu both agree with me on this.

as for the tea party, here's what the actual polling from 11/29 has to say:

In the 60 districts represented in Congress by a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, Republicans are now viewed about as negatively as Democrats.

it's a good idea to keep in mind that political correctness comes in many forms...including a blind adherence to the "tea party"...and you don't want to get caught in a situation where you can't see the bigger picture because you're locked into a point of view.

as for the snow: it does vary from year to year, as might be expected; last year was moderate, and the year before we had a huge amount of snow, all the way into april. as a result, not having to shovel is a mixed blessing around here: it can be an immense amount of work, especially wet snow, but no snow in winter means a water shortage in summer, as much of western washington's drinking water comes from snowpack.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

You sir are acting on faith....

the faith that solar and windmills will be as cost effective and functional as fossil fuels when they are not without subsidies. So who is using logic, it certainly is not yourself.

And I have resolved to not allow the mediocrity of political correctness ruin my Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you.

we subsidize oil far more...

...than we subsidize renewables.

remember that conversation we had about half the navy being on "oil patrol"? that is an oil subsidy, pure and simple, and it's costing us an amount of money that's in the hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

even forbes magazine has been complimenting obama for going after the $40 billion in direct cash subsidies we will give oil producers over the next 10 years:

There is no good economic argument for either of these tax breaks. They are simply statements that "we won't tax you for the cost of doing business like we would if you were in any other industry because ... we like you!"

again, that was forbes magazine saying that, not me.

we subsidize the hell out of oil, so why not give renewables the same treatment?

(by the way...you know why we began to subsidize oil, all those years ago? to help jump-start the industry...and to this very day, they can't seem to get by without subsidies either, can they?

we also subsidize the nuclear industry, and there wouldn't be a nuclear power plant operating today in the usa if we didn't.

we also subsidize coal-fired power plant operators, icluding duke energy.)

and i do appreciate your kind christmas wishes; i hope you're having fun as well...and let's hope the relatives don't get out of hand...

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

National defense does not subsidize oil.

Your argument is rejected as having no basis. National defense is the only really basic role of government. It has nothing to do with oil. So you can remove that point from your argument. We would have a strong national defense regardless of our energy source.

I think we should pursue a better deal with oil subsidies or leases. We should reduce those subsidies as well. We can also eliminate those ethanol subsidies. We can no longer afford to do business as usual.

national defense absolutely subsidizes oil...

...and the way you can tell is by looking at where we deploy the forces.

there is no strategic significance to the straits of hormuz...except for the fact that much of the world's oil must pass through that narrow passage.

why are we so closely allied with saudi arabia, to the point that we gave them a pass for being the actual source of 9/11?

there is no other reason for that alliance except oil - and our national defense policy is very much oriented to defending that supply of oil.

who are the world's biggest "threat nations"?

that would be pakistan, somalia, russia, iran, north korea, israel/palestine, and egypt - and if you look at where we've been deploying the most military assets, it's afghanistan, thanks to 9/11...but beyond that, our basings and troop deployments have been fixated on iraq, kuwait, bahrain, diego garcia, and the european assets that support them...in other words, a "persian gulf" defense policy.

that is the cost of oil, and if we weren't paying a third of a trillion dollars to import it every year, we would have no more interest in saudi arabia than we do latvia today.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

You argument does not hold water.

I've already rejected it so quit rehashing your story line. The activities in the Gulf are recent military interventions and were not related to oil. How about every other military action prior to the Gulf, how were they oil related? Again, I'll repeat myself. We would have a strong military force regardless of what energy powers our light bulbs.


well, you can dismiss all you want, but the reality is that we've been intensely guarding the straits of hormuz since the early '80s (in other words, more or less since the opec embargo and the start of the iran/iraq war), and that reality is why the navy wants 14 carriers, not 11 or 12.

why do you think we cared if iraq invaded kuwait? do you think it was because we were really worried about kuwait's...attachment to democracy?

that was an oil war, and what we were all really worried about was that iraq might go after the saudi oil fields. remember that?.

ever heard of saidi aramco? ever think it was just an amazing coincidence that we have since become strategically attached at the hip to the world's second-largest oil producer?

why do you think virtually all the us military's "prepositioned stores" have been situated to support wars in the middle east?

it's to defend the oil.

do you seriously think we have all that stuff based over there because we think yemen or lebanon or iran represent some sort of existential threat? even ron paul will tell you that it's not about that at all...it's about defending oil.

we would indeed have a military without an "oil defense policy" - but we would have a smaller military, and that represents exactly how you get at debt and deficit: you cut spending.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

by the way...

...have you noticed that suddenly we're all a-flitter about hormuz? notice how it's sudden;y back in the headlines?

as because we're worried about...the supply of oil.

and that means every dollar we're spending to defend that oil...is, indeed, a taxpayer subsidy to oil.

and of course, it's money we wouldn't be spending if we weren't using oil as a transportation fuel.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

No thanks, I'll stick with the known energy sources first.

Oil is finite, but there is also natural gas. Don't get me wrong, I support alternative energy as well when its cost effective. Right now it's not without huge government subsidies which we cannot afford. The Solydra scandal is just unfolding, there are others as well. Additional research is needed to get solar and windmills cost effective. In the meantime we will have to rely upon fossil fuels to reduce the cost impact on the consumers. The Canadian pipeline is a great opportunity for us in the short run to create jobs and to give us energy security. We'll have to see if Obama continues to give into the environmental extremists and tries to stop the pipeline. He won't be able to shift the decision past the election like he wanted, and therefore it will be a campaign issue. It will be his oppotunity to show if he in fact supports job creation and energy security.

You offer lots of interesting information that are rignt now grouped as maybe's or might's but fossil fuels are certain energy opportunities in the present. With the federal spending deficit as high as it is, we can't continue to tilt at windmills, Don.

tilt at windmills?

according to this handy excel document, florida power and light alone operates about 1.6 gw of capacity from wind right this very second.

the three largest califiornia windmill sites also produce about the same about of power; total up the 20 largest usa wind project operating right now plus the california sites (which are owned by several operators), and you get about 6 gw of generation working, right now...and none of that is faith, or maybes, or open to doubt: they are all up and running, and they are working, today, amd they're doing it without "huge cost subsidies".


you will have failures when you invest in technology, and it's true if you're a government or an angel investor. we are decades into operating the fast flux reactor complex in idaho, and we don't know if we'll ever succeed in making that work - but big bets can bring big rewards, and we've taken "taxpayer" chances on potential failure for the whole history of this country, starting with lewis and clark and continuing today as we launch missions to mars.

and the idea that republicans are getting sanctimonious because money might have gone to the politically-connected makes me unable to drink a liquid while laughing.

ask john boehner sometime why we needed two engines, at the time of purchase, for the single-engine f-35 fighter, and see what he says.

we don't know if there is real trouble here or not, nor do we know if the rest of the $36 billion or so that's out there will turn out to be good investing.

the big question, i assume, is whether government should invest in risky technology at all?

well...air mail was created to jump-start the aviation industry, which worked out fairly well as an investment. there would be no nuclear power if we hadn't taken a risk, nor space travel. we have a greatly advance biomedical industry thanks to the support of the human genome initiative...and, of course, al gore invented the internet (ok, we all know he didn't, but darpa did, and that was us taxpayer dollars all the way). and, of course, there was that whole transcontinental railroad/land grant colleges "thing" lincoln did back in the day...

technology investments pay off huge, which is why we keep doing 'em, and i want 'em done well, but taking the attitude that government has no role here ignores our entire national history and a couple hundred years of investment success.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I don't doubt that Florida has windmills.

My point is the huge federal subsidies that helped build them. The cost per MW is too high.

If Obama is going to repay his campaign donors with government contracts, the least he could do for the taxpayer is pick successful businesses. Solyndra is just the tip of the iceberg. Didn't Obama campaign saying that he would not do this? Did he lie to us again on tv? http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/56993.html Energy is the key component to our economy, we need reliability not perhaps it will work. We don't need to be raising everyones electrical rates for them either. Why punish the public for political paybacks?

It will be interesting to see if he approves the loans and contracts to Light Squared whose technology interferes with GPS. Now that will really piss off the public!

what happens to wind generation costs...

...if you back out the subsidies?

that's an excellent question, and in 2001 an effort was made to get at that answer.

the study looked at the danish experience of the prior decade; they concluded that prices for windmills were getting close to the cost of power from fossil fuels. (see the chart on p 15 of the .pdf.) since then, of course, the cost of fossil fuels is up, and so is the efficiency of windmills - and that means that it's just about the same cost now to produce with wind; again, that's why the $.04/kwh number keeps coming back to the conversation, which compares rather well to the more or less $.025/kwh that we're paying for power produced by coal.

(the subsidy situation works like this: utilities are required to buy power at prices higher than the cost of production - but it is possible in that "math environment" to know with certainty the actual cost of producing power from windmills, ex. subsidy; that's why the $.04 number stands up to analysis.)

one other note: if you go back to the excel that was linked earlier you'll notice that much of fpl's wind generation is actually sited along the oregon/washington border; that's because the columbia gorge is not just a great place to grow wine grapes, it's also kind of the saudi arabia of wind, with lots of steady breezes that are neither too fast or slow for turbines with blades of 100 foot long or more. the midwest is another such location, and the combination of the two sites offer enormous potential for future growth.

finally: we already produce 3% of usa generation with wind, and that means reliability of the technology is an issue that is more or less worked out; what is happening now is about efficiency, which is why blades are getting longer on the one hand, and, on the other, rooftop "supplemental" generation is now starting to come on line.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Reliability is also a concern

Wind power is not base load due to its unreliability. In Britain, they are getting 21% reliability with their wind farms. They operate with 21% capacity. That's not too good. http://climaterealists.com/index.php/www.icecap.us/images/uploads/forum/...

The subsidy question of the Dutch wind power looks complicated and it appears the public is not enamored with the plan.http://energiaadebate.com/the-dutch-lose-faith-in-windmills/

Maybe you can get a greater reliability from your gorge than is possible in Britain. 21% is poor by any measure.

there are a variety of strategies that can be used...

...to turn renewables into base load; the three primary techniques are to distribute generation geographically (it's always windy or sunny somewhere), incorporate storage technologies to recover excess power you're generating now when you can't later, and install a smart grid to connect it all together (the current grid is not well suited for the "uploading" of power from millions of sources).

you might like a longer explanation, with lots of exquisite technical detail: that's no problem, and it's waiting for you right here.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Specific information on Smart Grid

Smart Grid Sherpa

Disclaimer: I work for KEMA.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

i would particularly commend...

...the automated t&d (transmission & distribution) knowledge base as a good place to start.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Who pays for this system?

It should not be the consumer. It isn't fair to dump the cost of these initiatives on the ratepayers. The rate payer wants to make sure he's paying the lowest cost for electricity and doesn't care where it comes from. Our factories and plants should not pay for it either which raise prices for consumers. All costs should be born by the utility if they choose to implement these ideas.

This is one of those big projects

that can only be done by We the People of the United States. Or Uncle Sam, if you like :) Call it stimulus, call it investment, call it national security, it needs to be done in a big way.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

No money left...

sorry we're tapped out. Obama made the decision to send stimulus money to state and local governments and those governments chose to use that money to balance their budgets.

We are fixing to get into the spending cutting mode. We will not be increasing the spending. I believe that I can safely say that without stretching my neck out too far.

So answer me this

Is it more important to cut government spending, or to create jobs?

There is no such thing as "expansionary contraction."


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Both need to be done.

We have to get away from this crazy idea that creating government jobs helps the economy, it don't. We need to be creating policies that stimulate private industry not local governments.

How do you propose to do both?

How do you propose to slash government spending and at the same time attain "full employment"?


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Stimulate the private economy, not government.

If we can stimulate private industry by any means necessary and by getting our congress to focus on this problem, then private industry creates jobs, which in turn creates tax revenue. The former government workers will have to get a job in industry. I'm not in favor of socialism, are you?

How about enacting policies to bring industry back to this country instead of in Red China? I don't know about you but the products that we are getting from overseas are junk. Dishwashers, washing machines, etc don't last too long and the cost to repair is more than the cost to buy a new one.

When we build a bridge...

...that is stimulating private industry, becuase bridges are built by contractors, paid for by the government. When we build a ship or a jet fighter or an airport, we are stimulating private industry, because all those things are built by contractors, paid for by the government. When we build schools, that stimulates private industry, because those things are built by contractors, paid for by the government.

All those contractors will then have money in their pockets, to spend on food and housing and cars and college for their kids.

The really good thing right now is that we can build these things with very cheap borrowed money (less than 2% on the 10-year Treasury bonds).

Your mileage may vary.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Agreed and that's what we should have done.

So that the stimulus actually buys tangible things for our country instead of frittering it away on state and local governments that have inflated budgets. As Obama himself said, those shovel ready projects weren't very shovel ready.

lots of government jobs...

...stimulate the economy.

take teachers away, and the economy most assuredly suffers; that's why every successful emerging nation on the face of the earth, including this one, has made education the center of their economic development policy. (remember lincoln and the land grant colleges?)

cops surely grow the economy. again, take away cops, and see what happens to business. same with the fire department. you think no prisons would make for a better economy?

nasa grows the hell out of the economy. so does food inspection, and the faa, and camp lejune. and the national academy of sciences. and the cdc.

you don't think roads create jobs?

ports and airports don't create jobs? national forests and grasslands and water resources and oil resources on public lands don't create jobs?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

How much spending is enough?

Tell me Fake, how many assistant principals are enough? How many policemen in the school are enough? Do we really need all those teachers with many parents choosing not to educate their children in public schools due to the unruly students who are coddled instead of being kicked out? We spend more and more money each year on public education and we have no good results to show for them. We're doing something wrong. Since when did we decide we need to send kids to PreK? Total waste of money, it's just the public paying for day care. Believe me there are plenty of savings could be made in public education. How did our Department of Education get so large? We can do things smarter, we have to. We can no longer afford business as usual.

No we should not cut cops, we should cut their overtime and the generous retirement plans that allow them to retire in their 40s.

NASA should have its role cut to do what is was doing in the 60s and 70s, like going to the moon and space shuttles, not in working with the moslems or doing anything with climate. There is too much duplication of effort. Weather monitoring goes with NOAA not NASA.

Food inspectors are ok, but there is too much overhead that should be cut.

Roads are state responsibilities not federal. Here in NC we build all those elaborate road systems in the east that are underutilized and can't get the state to finish the outerbelt in Charlotte. Reprioritizing is called for.

Government has expanded way beyond it's intents and we haven't been paying attention. Now we are finally seeing how big it's gotten and changes are called for. Major cuts are called for to reduce the federal deficit. Look how big NPR has gotten, we need to get out of entertainment among many other things.


well, first of all you can look to "no child left behind" for an explanation of how department of education has grown so much in importance the past decade...but why is a department of education bad, and why is "local control of schools" always good?

when your local board of education is debating whether to teach creationism as science...you need federal help.

and why is it so terrible that smart people study education and then promote better ideas to local school boards?

that's how you fix schools; running around going "no! we know better than anyone, and our own prejudices are good enough, so...no!" isn't.

as for homeschooling: about 2% of schoolkids in the usa are homeschooled, and we know that because it's measured by...wait for it...the department of education!

that suggests we do, in fact, still need the teachers.

just to add to the discussion...as it turns out, there's been a change in the education field: school districts had been sending the teachers out to seminars and workshops for continuing education; now the trend is to do that work "in-house", which saves districts money, but requires that some teachers who were in classrooms become "teachers of teachers", and that shows up as "too many administrators" to many observers.

why send kids to pre-k?
because it's a very, very, smart idea.

the brains of little kids are "spongier" than they will ever be again, and you impart an immense amount of information to those kids, including teaching them things they would have spent kindergarten learning, like group socialization, colors, shapes, and, most important of all, language skills.

2-year-olds are the most efficient learners of languages of any of us, and it goes down from there, so why in the world would you want to waste the best years of your kid's life?

but don't take my word for it; here's what the bill and melinda gates foundation (yes, that bill gates) has to say about early education:

The first five years of a child’s life go by quickly. They also last forever. During this period, children’s brains are developing faster than at any other time in their lives. Long before kindergarten, children learn the skills they need to succeed in school and life. Research has shown that quality early learning can make a big difference—especially for disadvantaged children—by closing the achievement gap that starts before kindergarten. It’s a smart investment that helps build a stronger education system and a more competitive workforce for the future.

(note the conversation about "disadvantaged" kids? helping those kids today also means they're less likely to be helping themselves to the contents of your living room when you leave the house tomorrow...)

where is the excess overhead in food inspection?
what are you talking about, specifically?

yes, many roads are funded by state and local governments (as are many police, fire, and teaching jobs)...but those are all government jobs, so once again, we have examples of government jobs, that, by their very nature, stimulate the economy.

and now you have a problem with nasa working with islamic people?

if you truly believe that, you have a problem, a real one, and seriously...you gotta get some help.

hating people because of their religion is never good, not for any reason, and you really ought to know better.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Yeah Wow.

Local control of schools are better with regards to the elimination of layers of Bureaucracies. We haven't been minding the store and the Department of Education has mushroomed in size and scope. It should be cut back to a small panel that sets objectives and guidance, not control. There is a myth out there that increased spending improves education, it doesn't look at the results. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/09/does-spending-more-on-e...

The Pre K program over time does not improve a child's education. It ends up being subsidized day care. http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/taboos/headst01.html

I have a problem with NASA spending money ant time going outside what we pay it to do. They have no business engaging in outreach to Moslems. Can you explain any benefit to the American taxpayer for this program? Spending has gotten out of control. Where do you get that I hate Moslems? I never said that. I hate wasteful spending, that's all.

of course there's money.

we identified $17 trillion in potential loan funds for banks and non-banks during the tarp, et al process, and we don't need $17 trillion to weatherize and build grid and get out of oil.

it is possible to get some or all of the weatherizing money back, you know, by lending it out and collecting the savings either in power bills or from ratepayers (capacity gained from conservation can be cheaper than buying new generation; that's advantageous to ratepayers and stockholders).

investment in smart grid will be paid by ratepayers over time, just as ratepayers are paying for the "dumb grid" today, and if we want to jump-start the process for employment stimulus reasons we can lend the money out up front to utilities and collect it back over time. in such a scenario the taxpayer can make some returns and the ratepayer gets the advantage of lower interest rates.

and let me tell you, there are plenty of good reasons for government to make the investments in reducing the cost of power for a region - or to make it available in the first place - and while you may not care if we help new york or whatever, we are a better america, by far, thanks to programs like the tva and the rea and the bonneville power administration and from projects like hoover dam. every one of those has been a giant success story, and i just can't imagine someone saying "hoover dam was a horrible idea. nevada, arizona, and california can just go suck it!".

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Here we are in a recession....

and you want to raise utility rates, sounds like a large amount, just so we can make it easier for utilities to do their job. I don't think so.

it now appears...

...you've either begun to stop paying attention to what's being written or you're just objecting to object, but...as we noted above, what ends up happening is that savings from these new grid installations make up for the money being spent; in fact, the utility's stockholders and ratepayers end up ahead over the long-term...and since it's a government loan we're talking about to get the process started, it's possible to structure that loan to have payments begin after savings begin to come in, say, three ot five years down the road.

smart grid is an investment, not "thrown away money", and as with other capital investments, it pays off over time, just as the current grid has paid for itself over time.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Good since there are savings...

don't come to the rate payers and ask for an increase in their monthly bills to pay for this. If there are future savings, then the Utility should finance this initiative fully with no rate increase. Once the rates go up, they never seem to go back down.

Ratepayers always pay

Ratepayers always pay for the costs of public utilities, generally speaking. Ratepayers are paying for Cliffside, ratepayers are paying for the new NG station in Richmond County, ratepayers are paying for smart grid infrastructure. Ratepayers pay to extend power to a new subdivision or a new manufacturing facility or a new data center. For the regulated utilities, (Duke, Progress, and Dominion), the retail rates are set by the Public Utility Commission, with the intent to cover the utility's cost and provide some reasonable (and relatively fixed) profit. For coops, rates are set my the customer/members of the coop, and elected governing boards set rates for munis -- all of whom purchase power wholesale from one of the generators.

The real question is whether kWh avoidance or kW reduction through energy efficiency initiatives is more expensive for ratepayers than is increasing generating capacity. And if we want to talk about all the costs that should be borne by the utility, we should include all public health and environmental costs.

The other point that is often not understood is that electricity costs in the southeastern US are extremely low compared to other parts of the country.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

The justification must be made...

for a rate increase. If Duke can show that energy demand is going up, then they can get justification for building a new power plant.

We've paid for the public health issues by installing scrubbers and Nox reduction equipment. Don't come back to us with any more rate increases just to make your job easier.

And don't come back to us and raise our rates so that we pay what they pay in New York City! You better have better justification than that. It won't fly, I promise.

No argument here...

And if demand continues to grow unabated, rates will continue to skyrocket as fuel becomes more scarce.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

No worries...

we have vast coal and natural gas reserves. Nuclear fuel is plenty. Demand is growing due to more people moving down here to get away from the socialistic policies in those Blue states. We also have a very nice climate and a beautiful state.

one last note:

state leads the permit review on this one because of the international issues involved; environmental reviews are done at the state and federal levels, and epa staff is available to state.

there are serious questions as to how well state has performed on this review, and that's why the administration wants to take a longer look at the permitting process before moving forward.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

"Frank Burns"?

I'll believe that's your real name just as soon as you produce Hot Lips Houlihan.

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson


It's not a priority for me to prove anything to you. You can look it up, I live in Mint Hill, NC.

It's a dark day when a

It's a dark day when a M*A*S*H joke becomes orotund and recondite.

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Not a dark day, just another day.

If one never cared for that television program, it's just another day.

Not enough white hoods and burning crosses

I can see why you might not have cared for it.

On another note I'd like to second James's comment. fake consultant's rebuttals to Frank Burns's Hannity impression were very informative.

I love how the Canadians have no credibility when they talk to us about controlling health care costs, but are an unimpeachable authority on the subject of how much oil they can sell us.

Such is the common sense of a conservative: always asking the barber whether one needs a haircut.

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Canada doesn't care if we build the pipeline or not.

If we don't buy the oil, they'll sell it to Red China.

Yeah, Mash was a stupid program. I don't care for programs that make fun of the military, they deserve our appreciation not derision.

It's difficult for you to understand that people can develop a conservative viewpoint without watching Hannity, which I never do. But you go ahead and keep thinking that if it comforts you.

Fake Consultant, like many leftwingers lives in some idealic world and is intent on forcing the world to meet that dream whatever the cost.

We won't buy the oil

and they will sell it to China or whoever else is the highest bidder. The oil giants are multinationals. They have no allegiance to America.

Instead of arguing whether climate change is caused by fossil fuels, should we not be asking what the filthy process of extracting and using it does to our health and to the children of the future?

Everything we need to do as a country to gain true energy independence we need to do for so many other reasons. We need the jobs that weatherizing buildings and building a new power grid would bring. We need to let the environment take a breathe of fresh air after the assault fossil fuels have wrought, we need to be smart and make an energy plan that can work for us. Take the steps toward change instead of stumbling over the same old meme.

The irony here is that the dinosaurs whose essence we pump into our gas tanks did not or could not change quickly enough to survive the climate change which sealed their fate. The deniers of today are the dead dinos of tomorrow.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

I agree....

but there is less cost for us to buy the oil within our own hemisphere.

You make a good point regarding the process of extraction and processing of fossil fuels. Keep in mind that we now are treating the exhaust from coal plants by removing the NOX and SOX using catalytic conversion and scrubbers. The argument that you make is being corrupted by the lies of global warming. The fact is CO2 is not causing global warming. We need to find cost effective alternatives. At the present time solar and wind are not cost effective alternatives. I like bio fuels and natural gas as reasonable alternatives.

The alarmists are hurting the cause of cleaning the environment by focusing on something that is not a problem.


Your concern about the destruction of our environment from extraction would be moving if it weren't so obviously bullshit.

You are so jaded, you don't recognize the truth.

And you are obviously committed to liberal group thought and are unable to think for yourself. If you want to rebut something, why don't you come up with an original thought instead of just sitting back and slinging arrows?


...buying oil for transportation use, no matter what the source, is incredibly expensive, compared to the other choices, if for no other reason than the fact that it is far less energy-efficient than the use of electricity to power vehicles.

here's what the university of tennessee at chatanooga has to say on the subject (the emphasis is mine):

Electric vehicles are very simplistic. The propulsion system in an ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicle has hundreds of moving parts. An electric vehicle's propulsion system has but one: the electric motor. In addition to reducing maintenance costs and saving on lubricants and oils, the reduction in friction losses contributes to the energy efficiency of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are very energy efficient. For every 100 units of fuel that are expended in an ICE vehicle, only 16 actually result in propulsion. An electric vehicle, however, will use almost 85 units out of 100 for driving the vehicle.

Electric vehicles have another significant advantage over ICE vehicles: regenerative braking. When an electric vehicle is slowing down, the motor becomes a generator and provides energy to the batteries. An additional benefit of this process is the braking effect of the motor on the vehicle, thereby reducing brake wear.

the other big advantage of electricity as a transportation "fuel" is the fact that you can control emission at far fewer "source points"; this allows you to get more "bang for the buck" when it comes to pollution control than trying to monitor 135,000,000 "source points", which is roughly the current number of internal combustion engines in the usa automotive fleet.

for what it's worth, i like natgas as a "bridge fuel" myself, but it's hard to watch videos of flaming sinks and not wonder if we risk losing important sources of drinking water at the cost of transportation, and brazil has been making fuel from biomass since the '80s - but in the end, it may be that the best use of biomass is to turn turbines and generators, and, again, that's because internal combustion engines (especially variable-speed engines) lose more than 80% of their energy potential through inefficiency.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I don't doubt the efficiency.

And when the cost of electric cars comes down and recharging stations become more widespread, and the danger of batter fires or explosions are abated, the public will purchase them. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16066855 The cost of the electric car is more than the cost of the gas that would have been purchased for a standard car. I'd buy one myself if these problems got worked out.

Also keep in mind the electricity for those cars comes from those evil fossil fueled, and nuclear power plants.

I think drilling for natural gas has tecnology to avoid contaminating the drinking water. Most people don't get their water from wells anymore but from municipal systems piped in.

The other thing to keep in mind is the Keystone Pipeline won't cost anything to the American taxpayer while electric cars rely upon huge government subsidies to survive.


..the keystone pipleine is a subsidized project: to offer just one example, there will be "takings" of land through eminent domain, and the history of that process tells us landowners tend to get short shrift on "market price" in order to lower the project cost.

but let's move on...

it does appear that gm handled their pr situation poorly - but we also know something else from the same article: the technology is not the problem.

so...that begs the question of whether you can make a good value proposition for this car.

well, it is a $40,000 car, but there's a pretty good market for a midzsize car in that price range (an example of "best in class" in that price range might be the benz c250, which reportedly gets, at best, 26 mpg, and costs about $35,000).

now we could say the volt has a price disadvantage of $5000, but i'd suggest that difference is actually higher, and that's because the benz is perceived to be a nicer car than a chevy. with that in mind, let's make the disadvantage $7500.

let's assume $4.00 gas, and let's price 100,000 miles: that's 3850 gallons for the c250, at a cost of $15,400. the volt uses 2000 gallons for the same distance, and, of course, that's $8000 (the volt gets 50 mpg)...and that means the car does in fact pay for its extra cost at about 100,000 miles, which is actually a pretty good payback. (by the way, that all assumes you never recharge the volt; if you do, that would make payback occur faster.)

by the way: a nissan leaf, which uses no gas at all, is an even better deal: if there was no subsidy at all, and you paid $32,000 for the car, and you gave up your 50 mpg chevy volt to buy one, the car pays for itself in gas savings after 400,000 miles.

if you gave up your 20 mpg ford f-150 for the same car, the leaf actually pays for itsef, free and clear, after 150,000 miles, which is kind of the textbook definition of "working out the math".

and i am well aware that we would be burning some amount of fossil fuels at power plants to get that power; in fact, it's an advantage: as we noted above, having fewer "source points" for pollution allows you to better control pollution, and internal combustion engines in the usa auto fleet represent 135,000,000 "source points" to be managed today. managing just the nation's power plants, in comparison, is child's play.

of course, any emissions will be vastly lower than what would be emitted by the current auto fleet, since you need far less energy to get electric vehicles the same number of aggregate "fleet miles" due to the vastly greater efficiency of electric vehicles...which means you're burning lots less fuel...which also saves money; once again, the greater efficiency of electric vehicles comes into play.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

i seems like i should...

...have a response to this comment, but it's offered in such a "dart hitting bullseye" manner that there's not really much to add.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

you don't like making fun of the military?

you should take the time to consider just what an american tradition that is: ernie pyle, of course, did it oh so well, and in fact the military itself is so busy skewering the military that we now have words in the language like fubar and snafu.

it is entirely possible to honor the trooper in the field even as you distrust and despise the military leadership, and that's been what we've seen come out of our art, "mash" actually fits that bill quite nicely (although for my money, the movie is far better than the tv show, which i find a bit "preachy"), but you see the same theme in so many excellent films, "full metal jacket" being another good example (remember the peace pin and "born to kill"?).

and as for fake consultant's propensity to live in a dream world: fake consultant lives in the state of washington, where more than 20% of electricity is already coming from renewables...and in my state power is significantly cheaper than in yours...and that's not dreaming.

and speaking of dream worlds...did you know that if sarah palin had her way 50% of alaska's power mix would be in the form of renewables?


we subsidize every source of power in this country, none more so than oil, and if new england or alaska had a power mix like ours they would be paying 50% less per kwh than they do today.

even kentucky, who has some of the lowest power rates in the country (thanks to coal), pays a huge "subsidy cost" in the form of mountaintop removal and sludge floods and deaths in the mines.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

No I don't.

It's different when soldiers do it. I never did like the way the returning soldiers from Viet Nam were treated and Mash just fed into that.

Good for you, you have cheap hydroelectric power and the environmental fanatics would like to take that away as well. So I reckon you don't care if the rest of us have to pay carbon taxes. But it won't happen, the public is not going to just sit there and take it. You want to force your vision of utopia on the rest of us and we're not going to go along with it.

We have an entire infrastructure that supports fossil fuels and you want it to go away for expensive solar and windmills for what? The myth that CO2 is a problem? The environmental fanatics even want to do away with nuclear. No they are not dealing with reality.

Do you realize what form of power takes the longest to get permits? It's hydroelectric power. Why is that? Environmental extremism. So there you go, the rest of the country can't have the cheap power that you have due to fanaticism of the left.

i don't think anyone...

...should feel good about how we treated troopers coming home after vietnam (or korea, for that matter), and i think we've seen how much that's changed during this current series of overseas deployments and rotations.

who exactly is promoting the idea that we should get out of hydroelectric?

i don't hear anyone with any serious voice out there pushing the idea, even as "dam removal" is gaining ground as a way to increase and improve salmon and trout habitat on migratory rivers (not all dams have hydroelectric capacity, and it's "non-productive" dams that get removed). the idea is that allowing fish to get farther upstream greatly increases available habitat, and through that process you get larger salmon and steelhead runs.

and i don't recall promoting any carbon taxes, either - but i have been promoting the idea that oil is far too expensive as a transportation fuel, and that electricity for transportation is far smarter...and as it turns out, both of those statements are exactly correct, for reasons we've covered above.

it was about 1905, if i recall correctly, that the discussion was whether we should allow these newfangled cars to come along and destroy our hay, farrier, and buggy whip infrastructure...and now we've come to the end of the line for oil.

there is no doubt that oil is going away.

the only real question for us left to answer is how much damage do we want to do to our own economy before we move on.

we know that gas prices above $4.00 cause real damage to the economy; that tells us oil as a transportation fuel will be hurting us long before it finally runs out, and we probably don't want to wait for the $5.00/gal gas to decide we need to give it up.

and a word about nuclear: there is no current plant that isn't nearing the end of its service life, and there is a push to build new plants...but how much are you willing to pay for power, because "new nuclear" is more expensive per kwh than either solar or wind?

consider this:

AECL’s $26 billion bid was based on the construction of two 1,200-megawatt Advanced Candu Reactors, working out to $10,800 per kilowatt of power capacity.

By comparison, in 2007 the Ontario Power Authority had assumed for planning purposes a price of $2,900 per kilowatt, which works out to about $7 billion for the Darlington expansion. During Ontario Energy Board hearings last summer, the power authority indicated that anything higher than $3,600 per kilowatt would be uneconomical compared to alternatives, primarily natural gas.

Much of the dramatic price increase relates to the cost of labour and materials, which have skyrocketed over the past few years. Nuclear suppliers and their investors also have less tolerance for risk.

The bid from France’s Areva NP also blew past expectations, sources said. Areva’s bid came in at $23.6 billion, with two 1,600-megawatt reactors costing $7.8 billion and the rest of the plant costing $15.8 billion. It works out to $7,375 per kilowatt, and was based on a similar cost estimate Areva had submitted for a plant proposed in Maryland….

Stevens said Areva’s lower price makes sense because the French company wasn’t prepared to take on as much risk as the government had hoped. This made Areva’s bid non-compliant in the end. Crown-owned AECL, however, complied with Ontario’s risk-sharing requirement but was instructed by the federal government to price this risk into its bid. “Which is why it came out so high,” said Stevens.

by the way...what did you say you were going to do with that nuclear waste for the next million years, exactly? i didn't catch the answer, but it now appears yucca mountian wasn't it.

and as far as permitting goes...i believe it's actually just as hard to license nuclear...or it would be, if not for the 2005 energy policy act, which was designed to bypass some permitting to force construction of new plants.

(remember when we established above that we produce wind power today at $.04/kwh? in the story quoted here a proposed turkish plant is hoping to sell power at $.21/kwh...5 times as much...and turkey is not the kind of place where environmental extremists hold up the permitting process or activist unions jack up the labor costs.)


is it really utopian to think it might be a good idea to get out of the expensive fuel and into the cheap one, sooner rather than later?

is it really utopian to prefer cleaner air to dirtier air?

is it really utopian to not want to be saudi arabia's bitch?

well then, call me a utopian - but i think i'm just being smart, and it looks like a lot of folks are starting to agree.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Ever heard of an organization called....

the Sierra Club? They are against all dams and advocate their removal. Do you recall a policy put forth by the Democrats in House of Representatives called Cap and Trade? This was essentially a carbon tax. We don't support that around here.

Utopian? You sir are living in a fantasy land if you think that solar and wind power will replace coal, gas and nuclear power. It's not physically possible. Nuclear waste will have to go somewhere, a lot of smart people figured out Yucca mountains would be a good place to keep it. Yes nuclear power construction is expensive, not so much if you build it on a site that already has reactors.

i am not pushing any carbon tax...

...and that's something you attributed personally to me; my own take on the matter is that gas above $4.00, for any sustained period of time, is all the carbon tax we need, as that tends to drive serious market interest in non-gas options.

and as i mentioned before, dam removal is done, to improve fish runs, but the sierra club isn't driving anyone to give up hydro in any convincing way.

as for "cap and trade"...see if you can tell which liberals said which of these things about cap and trade:

1) "I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there's a package there that's very, very good. And frankly, it's something I would strongly support...."

2) "I also support cap and trade of carbon emissions. And I was disappointed that the Senate rejected a carbon counting system to measure the sources of emissions, because that would have been the first and the most important step toward implementing true cap and trade."

3)"This is a great thing for the Commonwealth...We can effectively create incentives to help stimulate a sector of the economy and at the same time not kill jobs...I'm convinced it is good business..."

ready for the answers? the liberals in question are 1) newt gingrich, 2) tim pawlenty, and 3) mitt romney.

damn lib'rals.

and i don't think we're gonna get out of coal soon, but what we can do is decrease the proportion of power we create from either expensive or highly-polluting sources, and that is where renewables will likely end up in the power grid.

the other thing we can do, and do rather easily, is quit importing oil as a transportation fuel. as we've talked about before, oil is needlessly expensive, it's a dirty fuel, and it's making this nation less safe every day.

that said...we have a different situation in the usa, but iceland actually has gone to 100% renewables for the national power grid, so it's not as impossible as might be thought.

and finally, a bit of geology.

yucca mountain has a basalt problem: basalt is remarkably porous, because it's a rock that fractures under pressure, and that has been the principal scientific objection to the yucca mountain site: if the rock is not secure, waste can leak down through the mountain into the water supply, and there's no way to guarantee that won't happen over the next 1,000,000 years, which is what you have to achieve to achieve safe waste isolation.

remember when you accused me of "acting on faith"?

well, if you think about it, you'd quickly realize that faith is the cornerstone of nuclear technology: an abiding faith that a solution will be found for waste, even though we haven't figured it out yet, even after 65 years of trying...faith on the part of the federal government that nothing will go wrong, requiring the taxpayer to make good on the government subsidy liability guarantees that go with any nuclear plant (that's right, you and i are the liability insurer for the american nuclear industry)...and an even greater faith, now severely damaged by three mile island, chernobyl, and fukushima, that "the experts have it all under control".

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Yeah and those positions taken by those candidates are wrong...

and I think they have all seen the error of their ways and have repudiated those crazy positions.

I'm gratified that you do not support cap and trade, it was poor policy and the Senate did the right thing by voting it down. To punish the consumers with a carbon tax just so some traders and Democratic donors could get rich on the phony presumption that CO2 emissions are causing global warming is polictical suicide. Hence the wave election.

I'll yield to your data on the Yucca Mountains, I just don't know enough about it. We do need to find a place to store it. How about shipping it all to Iraq and Iran? Right now its all being stored on site at the nuclear plants in casks. A long term solution is necessary. It seems the left is afraid to touch this issue.

Those politcians repudiated cap&trade as soon

as President Obama espoused it. It was their idea to begin with.

By the way, all shipping through the Strait of Hormuz is about to end for any cargo. Iran is getting nervous and making everyone else nervous too.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

i'm not actually sure i'm against...

...cap & trade; in fact, there are a ;ot of companies that will benefit from the process, and here's why:

what cap & trade really does is to incentivize pollution control; if you lower your emissions, you can sell the excess credits, and if you can create new energy sources at the same time, all the better. there are companies that presume this will become a revenue stream, including, surprisingly, hog producers (actually, many is ag see cap & trade as a great thing, as it's expected they will have offsets to sell).

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Do you reckon the public...

is willing to increase their monthly electric bill to help the hog producers? I'm not are you?


...all that depends on how it will work out.

it appears that europeans are seeing about a 7% rise in the price of gas, at $4.00/gallon that's $.28 - but it's also coming in at the time when the us auto fleet is getting more fuel efficient; that means a 7% rise in national fuel economy equals a neutral cost effect to the overall economy.

as for electricity, it works like this: if you choose to continue to pollute at current levels, that's gonna cost money, and if your state happens to be a heavy coal user, it's going to cost a lot more.

and that's what's supposed to happen.

the idea is that this cost impact will force power producers to invest in pollution reduction technologies; that will allow them to either buy fewer credits over time or to begin selling excess credits - and that is the market guiding the pwer producers to a series of cost-benefit solutions, instead of government forcing a "you must obtain this technology right now to end your pollution" solution, which is why republicans supported cap & trade in the first place.

all that having been said, there are those who argue for a carbon tax, and they dislike cap & trade for reasons that relate to complexity and the potential for manipulation, you can find those arguments summarized here.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

No they repudiated...

it once they saw how unpopular they were with the public. This is something we should give credit to the Tea Party movement.

you may be right...

...but if you are, it means that a number of republicans supported cap & trade for years, after which they figured out how wildly unpopular the idea presumably is with the public, and that the entire republican party never realized any of this until tea party representatives made them aware of the fact.

but in fact, gingrich was supportive of cap & trade, as late as april of '09, which is, of course, 3 months into the obama presidency, after which he's changed his mind.

romney, on the other hand, was supportive of the view that climate change is a human activity as recently as june of 2011, which suggests it was not obama's support of cap & trade that changed his mind, but, in fact, fear of the tea party voters.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I disagree with you on climate change.

It is my belief that those candidates have seen that climate change is natural and is not caused by CO2 emissions. Many scientists have straightened them out on these facts.

On this item, the Tea Party can't take any credit. Science triumphs here.

disagree all you want...

...but the vast majority of climate scientists actually don't disagree on the fact that climate change is occurring at all.

i'm sure you've been over this same ground with others, but there is no national academy of science that doesn't agree, and there is no organization of climate scientists that disagree.

there are a thousand ways to see it with your own eyes, and i suspect you have been told this before, so i'm not going to waste a couple thousand words making the point, but it's a lot like occupy wall street: the 99% is in disagreement with the 1%, only this time it's climate scientists, and you seem to siding with the 1%.

but hey, don't take my word for it: ask richard muller, who was himself a skeptic until he spent two years going over the data:

"...global-warming skepticism seems sensible. But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.

Over the last two years, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project has looked deeply at all the issues raised above. I chaired our group, which just submitted four detailed papers on our results to peer-reviewed journals. We have now posted these papers online at www.BerkeleyEarth.org to solicit even more scrutiny.

Our work covers only land temperature—not the oceans—but that's where warming appears to be the greatest. Robert Rohde, our chief scientist, obtained more than 1.6 billion measurements from more than 39,000 temperature stations around the world. Many of the records were short in duration, and to use them Mr. Rohde and a team of esteemed scientists and statisticians developed a new analytical approach that let us incorporate fragments of records. By using data from virtually all the available stations, we avoided data-selection bias. Rather than try to correct for the discontinuities in the records, we simply sliced the records where the data cut off, thereby creating two records from one.

We discovered that about one-third of the world's temperature stations have recorded cooling temperatures, and about two-thirds have recorded warming. The two-to-one ratio reflects global warming. The changes at the locations that showed warming were typically between 1-2ºC, much greater than the IPCC's average of 0.64ºC.

To study urban-heating bias in temperature records, we used satellite determinations that subdivided the world into urban and rural areas. We then conducted a temperature analysis based solely on "very rural" locations, distant from urban ones. The result showed a temperature increase similar to that found by other groups. Only 0.5% of the globe is urbanized, so it makes sense that even a 2ºC rise in urban regions would contribute negligibly to the global average.

What about poor station quality? Again, our statistical methods allowed us to analyze the U.S. temperature record separately for stations with good or acceptable rankings, and those with poor rankings (the U.S. is the only place in the world that ranks its temperature stations). Remarkably, the poorly ranked stations showed no greater temperature increases than the better ones. The mostly likely explanation is that while low-quality stations may give incorrect absolute temperatures, they still accurately track temperature changes.

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn't know what we'd find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

This research does not make the claim that CO2

causes global warming. All the study showed is that the land based measurements showed a warming trend of 1 degree C since 1950. No scientists disagree with that. Most scientists claim this is due to natural climate fluctuations is not related to CO2 emissions.

In fact the BEST study showed that the earth has not warmed since 1998. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2055191/Scientists-said-c...

If the earth has not warmed since 1998 while CO2 has continued to rise, it looks like there is no relationship apparant between the two.

Science does not happen by consensus or vote on who believes what. Many scientists do not believe the theory that CO2 emissions causes global warming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_...

i appreciate that...

...and i hope you're still reading the thread.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Back on the Navy angle...

I know that James read at one time (as I did) Alfred Thayer Mahan's milestone work The Influence of Sea Power upon History, a tome that continues to drive strategic thinking as to how we deploy our Navy around the world.

Freedom of the seas just doesn't happen. As we have seen with various incidents off the Horn of Africa in recent years, ships don't necessarily travel unmolested from port to port. Much of the world's commerce uses the seas, and that includes transporting large quantities of oil. And as has been pointed out, our Navy is deployed in large concentrations to areas of the world where security needed to transport oil is critical.

Call it a subsidy or stick a feather in its cap and call it macaroni...mere semantics.

That said, another interesting development is the military's increasing use of micro-pv generation to support forwards bases in Afghanistan, rather than transporting tens of thousands of gallons of fuel in heavily armed and foritifed convoys. The Marine Corps is particularly forward-looking in this approach, being able to power these small forward operating posts completely on photovoltaics, and reserving fuel for vehicle use only.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

there is no doubt...

...that hauling various fuels around is a logistical drag of major proportions, and you can look at the "ied war" in iraq (and potentially pakistan) as examples of why having fewer tankers on the road is a good thing.

military micro-pv is indeed a big big deal, and even if y'all don't immediately see the connection between solar power and fewer deaths by ied in wartime, it's there.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

This is a good application for solar.

The Army is doing similar things and I agree it is a positive. As someone who has designed military base camps and worked up bill of materials for shipment, I see this as a good approach for the forward operating posts. They have no need for power at night as they practise noise and light discipline. For bigger base camps in the rear, they still need power at night and would still need fuel for the generators.

as it turns out...

...solar has been working for the army back in the states as well: fort sam houston has been saving $6000 a month in power bills, since 2006, by installing solar capacity at the base.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

The military is leading the way

Both NAVFAC and the Corps of Engineers are leaders in sustainable construction on our military bases. The minimum standard for the nearly $1 $5-7 billion in MILCON in eastern NC in the past 5 years or so is LEED Silver.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

i have the cnbc on right now...

...and they're discussing the fact that usa consumers have lost about $1 trillion in purchasing power in the last decade due to the rise in oil prices, and on toip of that we spend about $300 billion a year importing oil; if we weren't importing oil we'd be getting that money back...and that is also national security.

all that is a bit off the subject - and yet, it's right on target.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965