Government investment in new energy? Look at the Pentagon, not Solyndra

What with half a billion dollars in federal cash flushed down the California toilets of the Solyndra solar panel company, the nation has been presented with a nearly irresistible opportunity to scoff at government investment in alternative energy.

If you must, scoff at the means — not the end. It can be done right, and in fact is being done right. Here in Georgia, among other places.

Two days before Solyndra executives were forced to make a perp walk into a U.S. House committee room, where they took their Fifth Amendment pledges of silence, Pew Charitable Trusts issued a detailed report on the Pentagon’s effort to wean U.S. forces from foreign oil.

The paper shows us a Department of Defense that is already one of the largest sources of venture capital in the world when it comes to solar energy, wind, geothermal and biomass fuel. As of last year, the Pentagon was the sponsor of 450 separate projects. The U.S. Army alone plans to spend $7.1 billion on energy development and conservation in the next decade.

There is a certain practicality of purpose behind the drive — apart from any sense of thrift or idealistic dedication to the environment. A military that is 80 percent dependent on oil from people who don’t wish us well is a highly vulnerable force.

The modern American soldier soaks up, on average, 22 gallons of fuel per day — a 175 percent increase over Vietnam days. From 2003 to 2007, in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. forces endured 3,000 casualties — uniformed and civilian — associated with fuel delivery, according to the Pew report.

An overseas soldier with a 90-pound pack is slowed by roughly 18 pounds of batteries. Even military bases within the United States are often at the mercy of civilian power providers.

One of the highlights of the Pentagon’s efforts, announced in August, is a $510 million investment pool — about the same as the Solyndra investment — created by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture. The military cash will fund a three-year effort, with help of private contractors, to build refineries capable of producing “significant quantities of advance biofuels.”

“[Tuesday], I visited with a group of industrialists who are building plants in southeast Georgia and utilizing the multitude of pine trees — in that area to produce a product that can be inserted in existing coal-fired plants on military bases,” said former Navy secretary and U.S. senator John Warner, who headed up the Pew project. “I’m intending to refer them to the [Pentagon] under this program.”

Bill Wilson, a spokesman for Swedish-owned BMC in Savannah, confirmed that company executives had met with Warner to discuss the wood pellets the company makes at a newly opened Waycross facility. Currently, most are shipped to European power plants.

But a larger player in the Pentagon’s biomass energy hunt will be the University of Georgia. “We have a new project with the [Department of Defense] through the Army, collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico, to look at algae fuel,” said Ryan Adolphson, director of faculty at UGA’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

The armed forces are looking for a “drop-in” replacement for petroleum products that by 2020 will be cost-competitive with stuff from the ground. Adolphson says whether that’s realistic is hard to say.

“Biodiesel is relatively close. But biodiesel is really not an acceptable fuel for a lot of these weapons platform vehicles,” he said. “Logically, the DOD and Army and all of the branches want to move toward a single fuel. They don’t want to have all these different kinds of fuel.”

And the jobs? Dave McNeil is president and CEO of Hannah Solar Government Services — sister company to Hannah Solar of Atlanta. Since January, McNeil’s start-up company has placed $60 million in bids at military and other federal facilities.

“The military is more aggressive than the other parts of the federal government. They have been really pushing it — Marines and Navy, especially,” said McNeil, a retired colonel and former base commander at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

His firm intends to specialize in the installation of solar units on the ground, on roofs — and on canopies over parking lots. “That’s very big now,” McNeil said. “No. 1, you’re generating electricity. No. 2, you’re shading anything underneath it, whether vehicles or equipment, from the sun. The paint, the rubber, the grommets, the hoses — you’re going to get extra life span from the vehicle.”

The point is that, when it comes to alternative energy, the Pentagon is making large and small investments. Large bets are vetted; performance goals are clearly stated. So far, no half-billion dollar bets have been made on the success of a single technology or company.

“Like anything else they do, it’s very methodical and very thought out, and very deliberate. Nothing against our other branches of government — that’s just the way the military operates,” McNeil said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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63 comments Add your comment

Double Zero Eight

September 24th, 2011
11:46 am

I have confidence that UGA will do a much better job than
Solyndra did in producing a positive outcome. The Pentagon’s
biomass energy hunt stands a chance of being successful in
my opinion. We will get more “bang for our buck” using research
universities versus private corporations.

honested

September 24th, 2011
12:00 pm

The news trickling out of the pentagon and from deployed troops over the last few months has been enlightening.
It is ironic that the entity providing ‘free security’ for the petroleum extraction industry is making good use of solar, biomass and wind while the companies whose products they are protecting continue to spend tens of millions in counter-advertising whining ‘it will never work’.
The military proves every day, IT DOES WORK and it saves money and lives.

pn

September 24th, 2011
2:13 pm

Ignore the billions in tax breaks and subsidies that Cheney negotiated for his fossil fuel behemoth energy company buddies, many of who pay no taxes whatsoever. Instead let’s focus on the failure of a good faith attempt at a new technology. Solyndra was trying out a new variant solar technology and was not able to compete with China’s use of a proven technology and their labor cost advantage. The Chinese government subsidizes solar power development. It’s pumping billions into alternative energy development. They are already miles ahead of us. President Obama is making a reasonable effort to explore all frontiers of alternate energy production so that we can catch up and not be left in their dust.. That is what he and our government should be doing; only more of it. If the Republican Flat Earthers manage to deep-six solar energy development in this country, they will insure that we continue our slide into Third World status. Are they so greedy, nihilistic and crazed that they are willing for their own children and grand-children to breathe the tons of particulates and drink water which is everywhere laced with mercury from fossil fuel burning, when the sun provides more than enough energy to power this planet every day, if only we had the technology to harvest it. We should be working night and day to perfect solar power, and our government should make it another Apollo Project. Yes, there will be failures; but there is no success without some failures along the way.

pn

September 24th, 2011
2:42 pm

Also, anyone who ever watched the McCarthy hearings would be familiar with the tactics employed by the Republicans to grill & gut the Solyndra executives. What is happening is outrageous. I’m just wondering how long the American people will stand for it. Will the Republican congressional bullies have free rein like McCarthy until it finally triggers a societal gag response? Or will they succeed beyond anyone’s rational predictions–like Hitler? I don’t like using the Hitler analogy, but I am old enough to remember my parents saying that nobody ever believed that Hitler would become so powerful. They ignored and dismissed his excesses until it was too late.

[...] once again spiraling and introducing fresh instability, especially for developin more… Government investment in new energy? Look at the Pentagon, not Solyndra – Atlanta Journal Cons… – blogs.ajc.com 09/24/2011 Government investment in new energy? Look at the Pentagon, not [...]

duke

September 24th, 2011
4:53 pm

Solar and wind cannot produce industrial energy at any price, under any circumstances. The only viable energy sources are hydrocarbons and nuclear power. Hydroelectric also works, but is limited by geographical availability. To match the power of one nuclear plant requires 50 square miles of solar panels or windmills. Deaths from falls while maintaining the equipment would approach carnage proportions, and environmental damage would be on a similar scale. It takes 50 years for a solar installation to produce enough energy to pay off the original cost, and the equipment only lasts 30 years. Wind is similar.

Solar and wind cannot maintain stable voltage and frequency, without which the grid crashes. They are intermittent sources, which means 100% backup from nuclear or hydrocarbons must be built, and kept in hot standby.

Ethanol uses an enormous amount of land, which ought to be used for food crops. It also uses a lot of water. In Brazil it makes a small energy profit, with sugar cane grown in tropical rains, using serf labor, and dumping large amounts of noxious effluent directly into the Amazon. At our latitudes, using corn, hamstrung by environmental regulations, ethanol production consumes 25% more energy than it produces.

The United States has plenty of hydrocarbon fuel, but environmental regulations make it iimpossible to develop those resources.

Getting a license to build a nuclear reactor takes 5 years and costs several hundred million dollars, and that is only the beginning of the regulatory nightmare. Nobody knows the total cost, because nobody’s ever done it. Nuclear plants under construction when these preposterous regulations took effect suffered massive cost overruns, and were never completed. No new reactors have been built in this country since then. All 104 operating U.S. reactors were built before 1980. Although you would never suspect it from the news coverage, reactors built under the old regulations have proven spectacularly safe. In all the decades of U.S. nuclear operations, there have been zero fatalities. Each reactor was built in less than five years, costing the modern equivalent of one billion dollars. Each paid for itself within six years; and minus unnecessary regulatory costs, they all have been producing almost free electricity ever since. A coal plant uses one trainload of coal every three days; a nuclear plant uses one truckload of fuel every three years. Each reactor produces the energy of two Hoover dams. It is the single greatest technological advance in the history of mankind. With fast breeder reactors, a proven technology which produces its own fuel, but which insanely has been shut down, there is enough nuclear fuel on Earth to support the entire projected global population at the current standard of living in the United States for longer than the human race is likely to exist. American engineers intended to build 500 reactors, enough for all our energy needs decades into the 21st century. They expected that electricity would become too cheap to meter. Double the cost, and you could still build 500 reactors for one trillion dollars of capital investment, less than Obama’s worthless socialist economic “stimulus”, which has already dissipated itself in futility.

The old regulations made nuclear power safe and affordable; the new regulations make it impossible. Now the same people are doing the same thing to hydrocarbons- coal, oil, and natural gas. Any well-trained 12-year-old can see that the “scientific” arguments in support of these regulations are laughably incompetent. Because these “scientist” do not believe in absolute truth, they have no adequate basis for objective reality. Their mental theories are more real to them, and are considered to be more authoritative evidence, than objective data such as I have cited here. But some of them know exactly what they are doing.

What Allied warplanes did to the industrial infrastructure Nazi Germany with their bombs, international socialists are doing to America with their regulations.

td

September 24th, 2011
5:20 pm

duke

September 24th, 2011
4:53 pm

Very well said. I would like to add that we should build solar (especially in high sun areas on the coast or in the desert). We should build wind in areas that is windy. In the meantime while we are developing the nuclear, wind and solar we should drill for oil and natural gas. Do it all and get us away from relying on other countries. This would produce a millions of jobs and keep money at home.

honested

September 24th, 2011
6:04 pm

duke and tiny dog,

Your pointless analogy pretends that the only way to generate electricity is from a central location and to distribute it though miles of current losing copper cables, all owned by a nearly un-regulated (especially in this state) monopoly.

Think for a moment, doesn’t every house have a roof? In the area served by a single mercury belching coal plant or waste that lasts forever nuclear plant are there not ‘50 square miles’ of roofs and parking lots?
Doesn’t it make sense to offer the same capitalization advantages to homeowners (amortization) of the generation installation on their OWN roof to generate their OWN power?

Obviously, such a change in generation format would shift power TO the Citizens and away from the monopoly utilities that OWN the General Assembly but I doubt such a shift would really disturb the average voter.

Remember, despite any naysaying, every watt generated at the point of use (home or industrial) is a watt that does not require consumption of any fossil fuel or wast producing nuclear generation and distribution.

JEB

September 24th, 2011
6:17 pm

Why not simply develop the Bakken oil reserve that covers several western states and by us govt estimates contains more recoverable crude than ALL of our Mideast suppliers? Or Marcellus Shale or offshore?

honested

September 24th, 2011
6:47 pm

JEB

Is there some Constitutional requirement that Americans are supposed to stay vassals to the fossil fuel industry in perpetuity?

findog

September 24th, 2011
7:01 pm

the problem is the short memory of the American consumer
it has become aparent that if anything takes longer than the natural fluctuation of crude costs to reverse it is taking too long for Americans to continue to care
really too bad that in the twenty of the last thirty that we had republican presidents they had not yet gotten to energy independence
hey, but maybe if we give them just one more chance…

MarkV

September 24th, 2011
7:06 pm

duke @4:53 pm

You analysis has serious flaws. One is your following claim: “To match the power of one nuclear plant requires 50 square miles of solar panels or windmills.” Really? What efficiency of the solar cells did you consider? What is available now? You do not believe in scientific progress?
As for nuclear reactors, one factor is notably missing in your post; the spent fuel problem. I suppose in this case you probably do believe in technological progress that will solve it. With the numbers of reactors you talk about, it is highly debatable. The danger shown by the events in Japan this year is another factor. The fact that it has not happen yet mean very little. Germany has not reversed her nuclear energy policy for nothing.

deegee

September 24th, 2011
8:43 pm

It is interesting that many small towns in Europe have become nearly energy independent through the combined use of wind and solar energy. They have figured out how to generate electricity by incinerating their garbage and by using methane gas generators. Of course, we couldn’t do that here. That would be kooky and socialist and counter to all things American.

td

September 24th, 2011
8:45 pm

honested

September 24th, 2011
6:04 pm

I said do it all. You method will work in some locations of the country but how expensive is it? We as a nation does not have the money and if I remember right there is already tax credits available for individuals to do it on their own. Like I said we need to do all of it but not as a government program.

Mr Chips

September 24th, 2011
8:59 pm

Energy itself is misunderstood. Most of the energy we cultivate is wasted in the harvest. Most of what’s left is wasted in the Neanderthal engineering of our machines. Lets just face the stupifying fact that we’re morons and will always be morons. Has the sun exploded yet? Please don’t tell me we have to wait another 5 billion years.

kaycee

September 24th, 2011
9:07 pm

Duke, MarkV, and Honested, (and a doff of the hat to you too, pn),

Every now and then I run across a coherent debate on this blog. I don’t know which of you has gotten the better of this exchange, but you all certainly have redeemed the usually dismal level of discourse on Jim’s blog.

J.J.

September 24th, 2011
9:25 pm

IMPORTANT: “a singled fuel”?
Mr. Gallaway, thank you for your insightful and realistic view of biofuels; I hope your message travels well.
You quote Ryan Adolphson as saying “Biodiesel is relatively close. But biodiesel is really not an acceptable fuel for a lot of these weapons platform vehicles,” he said. “Logically, the DOD and Army and all of the branches want to move toward a single fuel. They don’t want to have all these different kinds of fuel.”
The DOD does not have “a single fuel” now nor will it ever, so why would biodiesel not be a candidate for the millions of gallons of diesel powered vehicles and generators used by the DOD all over the globe? Please consider the three types of military transportation; “Sea, Land, and Air”. Biomass-based fuels can supplement and ultimately replace all three categories (albeit not in my life-time).
However, biodiesel can substantially reduce our dependence on foreign oil, keep billions of dollars in the US, and create a significant number of American jobs right now. And as I am sure you are aware, biodiesel production is increasing exponentially worldwide and at more realistic prices. If the biodiesel industry got that same tax and subsidy treatment as Big Oil it would be at par or better already.

cs

September 24th, 2011
10:25 pm

three boos for the wood pellet plant in waycross. corporate welfare out the arse and a 20 year tax abatement courtesy of the incompetant development authorities. Just another deadbeat company the rest of us have to pay taxes for.

Sol

September 24th, 2011
10:28 pm

Duke, you’d better write to the Chinese and tell them how badly mistaken they are to invest so much in solar power. They obviously haven’t gotten your message that their efforts are foolish and futile.
Oh, and by the way, although I am not an “industrial user” of energy, I do own a Chinese made evacuated tube solar water heater that is on the ground outside my house. Merely by hooking it into my house plumbing I have saved roughly 20% of my energy bill every month since it was installed. A large percentage of Chinese households now have these solar water heaters. If a large percentage of American households had them we would save 20% of our energy bills. I repeat: 20% saved. Solar thermal is much more efficient than solar pv for the present.

Buymadeinusjobs

September 24th, 2011
10:32 pm

The U. S. needs tariffs to give their manufacturing jobs a chance to get off the ground. I like you idea about putting solar on our roofs. Look at all the jobs if we limit them to solar panels & batteries manufactured here in the U. S. I think as soon as we could get manufacturing and installing them, the multiplier effect (restaurants, stores etc would create more jobs.)
The prices would come down with more work, maybe schools, goernment building.

Reasonably Smart

September 24th, 2011
10:34 pm

The last thing I want to see happen is to pump any ore money into the Bank of the Pentagon. If we had a small percentage of the monies that they have wasted over the years we probably would not have a deficit. Perhaps we need to out some of the programs that have failed at the pentagon instead of trying to showcase a single business failure. Where was Congress when we needed to investigate the millions stolen during the Iraq war run up? America, don’t buy into this distraction.

Buymadeinusjobs

September 24th, 2011
10:41 pm

I do not like nuclear, look at Japan it spoiled their food and water. No one has a guarantee their nuclear plant will not get hit by a plane crash, storm or earthquake. Goggle nuclear plant One just had problems in the VA not very strong earthquake.

honested

September 24th, 2011
11:36 pm

Buymadeinusajobs,

One small fly in your otherwise eloquent post….in Georgia, we can’t power schools or in most cases government buildings with entity owned solar devices.
Why?
‘Sovereignty’ of our monopoly electricity providers require those buildings to buy the power from the monopoly generator.
Crazy?
Of course it is, but the nice folks at the PSC and the General Assembly are paid well to ensure the monopoly utilities have guaranteed, unfettered access to the ratepayer/taxpayer pocket.
Remember, we live in a state where the nice people at the General Assembly yielded to the 134 lobbyists the monopoly electric utility had on the floor to change the law to REQUIRE each and every ratepayer to pre-pay for all the construction costs for a pair of nuclear power plants NOT NECESSARY for current or projected baseload power in the state of Georgia!!!
This ain’t about efficient generation, it’s about efficient wealth transfer…..from us to them.

MrLiberty

September 24th, 2011
11:52 pm

Oh goodey! Nothing like stealing taxpayer dollars, lining the pockets of all of your friends, all so that we can do a more efficient job at murdering innocents in foreign countries that never threatened us or attacked us. What a wonderful investment return we get from pentagram spending programs. What a truly disgusting country this has become.

Centrist

September 25th, 2011
5:27 am

“Look at the Pentagon, not Solyndra”

Interpretation: Ignore that man behind the curtain – President Obama should be protected by the liberal media with diversionary tactics.

Hla

September 25th, 2011
5:32 am

Smoke

September 25th, 2011
6:03 am

Mr.Liberty. Most of the Solyndra investors are Republicans. So, blame the government for a business failure? Besides, we all know that private enterprises can do anything better than government, especially when government doesn’t have many rules or regulations.

The Centrist

September 25th, 2011
6:10 am

Hello Namesake. The Solyndra deal was initiated while Bush was in office. That is why there were so many Republican investors. Since the GOP has stalled appointments, and have raised red herring policies at every turn, it is hard for Obama to find all of the bureaucratic inept snakes in the grass.

just wondering

September 25th, 2011
6:38 am

It was good when Obama claimed it, now it’s Realllllllllllly the republicans behind it. Didn’t hear a peep about that before, I guess dems always never do no wrong. This is so sad.

just wondering

September 25th, 2011
6:43 am

Smoke……..the private sector can do better when they are responsible for their own money and debt. When the government puts taxpayer’s money on the line, they take the fifth.

Marlboro Man

September 25th, 2011
8:58 am

The corporate officers should be stripped of all their assets and left pennyless if they can’t account for the money or if it was used for excessive pay. It is theft.

sintrist

September 25th, 2011
9:30 am

Just imitate the sun fusion.Two hydrogen nuclei combined together to create helium,giving off great amounts of heat and energy.Just not under a D admin.I would have hard time defending.

double

September 25th, 2011
9:32 am

Enter your comments here

Buymadeinusjobs

September 25th, 2011
9:33 am

Thanks Honested, Do the 90% of the Americans have any rights left since we are at the mercy of the rich/powerful/politicians,( who are rich or will be when they go to work as lobbyist etc) .

I wrote some comments under Gingrey article. I will repeat a little of one::

Teachers/Others::: Please get a copy of Ryan Budget that all Republican
Senators and representatives voted for: destroy medicare/other entitlements and give tax breaks to wealthy, if you are not rich, they will destroy you next, look at Wisconsin/Ohio Google’
Let’s educate ourselves and others including your church friends, have meetings etc, start now, contact politicians about needs for jobs before we have a depression..
If you have a district where only a republican is running, run as a independent on increasing taxes on millionaires, cutting tax loopholes on corporations who fire us and take our jobs overseas, oil etc. Putting tariffs on products made overseas but sold here to protect manyfacturing jobs.
Protecting entitlements. You will be able to get republican and democrat votes unless the people are so crazy for the rich, they will not look out for themselves or families/neighbors

double

September 25th, 2011
9:47 am

Yeah and use the going and coming of the tides.

Mr Chips

September 25th, 2011
10:36 am

Okay. The discussion here was superior to the troll coddling nincompoopery which embeds the Bookman/Wingfield cult-blog.

However, advancing the discussion should have led us to one conclusion: a hundert year after E=MChammer, none of us white guys can dance. (Sorry).

No, what I really wanted to say, but because I’m a comedian I cannot resist going for the gag no matter how inappropriate the timing is, is that the nature of light itself is what eludes us in spite of the fact that Einstein tried to explain it over a hundert year ago.

The problem is that we don’t educate our preschoolers and kindergardeners and our elementary school kids about how light behaves during experiments, and how important the observer is. What? You don’t think children can absorb this data?

If you dont, then go add to the stink that Bookman spreads his cheeky (read hacked) aroma to one and all who brown-eye his highness on his blog. Or is it, brown-nose? Dammit! I always get my insertable body parts mixed up. I hate myself. I hate the world. NUKE IRAN!!!!!

New Joke: Educate KinderGardeners Right and they will never have Green thumbs.

ANother observation: Christiane Amanpour’s “This Week” stinks. She just doesn’t make you wanna watch her. She is a reporter. A great reporter. But TV cameras and Mics don’t lie.

She stinks. (Sorry)

findog

September 25th, 2011
10:51 am

Solyndra was funded as a start up, but had over 1,000 employees
Our problem is math

Mr Chips

September 25th, 2011
11:01 am

Look, an army travels on it’s stomach. It’s the logistical support. It’s not a new argument. The Weirmacht failed partly because of energy supply. How do you get the juice to the beef? And where’s the beef today? Are we in Iraq or Afghanistan? And what’s happening in Iraq? Does anyone even care?

Our media has a four second attention span which is two seconds longer than the voters. After 911, and after the media went full Hallmark Card about the Ten Year Anniversary, (BTW: is “anniversary” an appropriate word for any “rememberance” of the 911 catastrophe? I dont think so The media is an a-hole.)

We were told that there were dozens of sleeper cells in our country waiting for the word to attack. We were told that there were rocket tube/centrifuges in Iraq. Rocket tube centrifuges. We really were total morons. Total. Grieving. Morons. And how dare Cheney take advantage of that?

The CIA has concluded that America will experience a WMD attack in the near future. They have put a 99% reliability on the intel from which they derived that conclusion. Instead of rooting out any possible domestic cells of terror, we had our sights aimed by the Saudi Royal Family and Cheney, but then I repeat myself.

How many of you know that we withdrew our troops (cut and run?) from Saudi Arabia by W after 911? Osama insisted and W complied. Only after 911. Saudi Arabia? Really? I guess the terrorists did win there, in Saudi Arabia, where Cheney is considered only two Imams short of a GOD.

Cheney is our traitor. Benedict Arnold should have a Memorial next to Lincoln compared to CHENEY, okay? Figure it out. Do the math.

Then rise up as Americans and demand justice.

Just a taxpayer

September 25th, 2011
11:21 am

All this discussion about batteries and solar brings up an overlooked issue. Most of the world’s lithium supply is in South America. This is the stuff that batteries use.

Buckhead Boy

September 25th, 2011
11:49 am

Helium? You can forget that thanks to the Helium Privatization Act pushed through the Republican Congress in 1996 by our own “great thinker”, Newt. The government was ordered to stop refining helium, and sell-off the reserve at a price so low that there has been no “privatization” here. The stockpile will be gone by 2015, and then we’ll be dependent upon Algeria, Qatar and Russia for this element so vital to research, keeping colliders from over-heating, and manufacturing MRI machines, LCD’s and optical fiber, to name but a few important uses. After 2015 we may see “privatization” by some international combine with prices rising to exorbitant levels, and we may see our young men sent to “protect the freedom loving people” of Algeria.

james j andrews

September 25th, 2011
12:37 pm

@ just a taxpayer

You brought up a good point about lithium. The Chinese, who are the world’s leaders in electric car technology, are securing the Latin American litium supply as we speak.

In a country where the citizens’ level of awareness has fallen to the point that a Michelle Bachman or Rick Perry could actually be considered for the lowest level political office, much less presidential candidates, you can kiss our position on the world stage goodbye.

Jackie

September 25th, 2011
1:08 pm

If I understand Jim correctly, the Pentagon is investing in green energy wisely and the administration is wasting our money on politically motivated ventures, staffed by executives who won’t answer questions about how they wasted hundreds of millions of our dollars because they might get in trouble.
It seems the Obama administration is in full stonewall mode. And their supporters are trying to find excuses for them.

james j andrews

September 25th, 2011
1:57 pm

As the old saying goes, ignorance is bliss. While Georgia, as a state, may come in at, or near the bottom, in almost every measure of matters of importance, we are close to the top in the collective ignorance of the electorate. This is even acknowledged by the politicians who they elect, e.g., Johnny Isackson, who refers to his constituents as the “unwashed”. This given, trying to inform them of the fact that Georgia’s statehouse is filled with the most corrupt assemblage of lobbyist driven politicians since the Talmadge era, is futile. Arguing with them about the merits of scientific facts based on concensus vs lobbyist sponsored, make believe, scientific facts, is a fool’s folly.

double

September 25th, 2011
4:11 pm

Bank failures,ignorance,we are #1.

JD

September 25th, 2011
4:54 pm

Duke and TD,

Since the two of you are such experts on US energy policy, please elaborate on these “new regulations” that are hand cuffing energy companies from opening new nuclear power plants.

I just did a really interesting search through the federal register and Thomas (Library of Congress)…there has not really been a single new regulation imposed on nuclear energy in the past 20 years. In fact, one of the only new things the NRC has done is a safety inspection of power plants since the crisis in Japan.

It is expensive to build power plants…and guess what, President Obama has helped energy companies secure low interest government loans to begin construct of 7 new plants with plans for another 16. That is infinitely more than Reagan or Clinton or either Bush 1 or 2.

What little bit of a shift that has occurred in the regulatory environment for nuclear energy has been about information and operational security. Enriched nuclear fuel is valuable stuff, powerful stuff, and the market is rightfully regulated to extreme levels. With the exception of a few right-wing libertarians and anarchists (and terrorist organizations), nobody is opposed to keeping nuclear secrets under lock down.

Nuclear power is awesome. It is clean, cheap, and safe (provided that plants are not built on fault lines…a worthy regulation). Investing in other energy is important as well. Solar energy is also awesome. It viability is primarily limited to building design. It works well for houses and most buildings under 10 stories. There have been several breaks in research on solar cell tech over the past few years. I do not know enough about wind farms to comment…they are working well in Italy, but that is about all I know.

Like all technology, nuclear energy faces stiff opposition from somebody. Not from liberals, but from conservatives. Why you might ask? The oil industry. Nuclear energy’s biggest opponent is the oil industry…and guess who spends more money lobbying and contributing to GOP campaigns? That’s right, the oil industry. They opposed General Electric with as much ferocity, but in the past 110 years the oil industry has managed to capture more bureaucracy and buy more congresspeople than ever before. That and public opinion on nuclear energy has swayed back and forth over the years. Support was high during the energy crisis in the 70s, then Chernobyl and the 3-mile island incident occurred…driving opinion in a downward spiral. It had been steadily climbing over the years…until the incident in Japan several months ago.

I suggest you conservatives reevaluate your politics on this issue. I know most of you want nuclear power more available and the president has been working to make that a priority. Despite popular rhetoric, the push back on nuclear power has been from the states. There is no federal ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants…but 15 states (all of them exercising their 10th amendment rights) have banned the construction of new power plants. Some states, like Illinois and Kentucky, have moved toward repealing their bans, others not so much.

TD brings up an interesting point regarding diversification. It is important to diversify. We are probably never going to be energy independent unless we convert to renewable energy…after all, gas and oil are global markets and private companies will adjust prices to remain artificially high even if there are 0 transportation and distribution costs. Oil sand and oil shale are abundant resources we have in the US and Canada. There is not 1 regulation preventing their extraction. Unless oil is over $130/barrel, however, there is 0 profit incentive to mine and refine. Whenever oil is traded at that level, which has been relatively rare, OPEC meets and adjusts their plans to prevent oil shale and oil sand from flooding the market.

Cain Hater?

September 25th, 2011
5:40 pm

Hey Jim: Are you a Cain Hater like O’Reilly? Dick Morris was right all along about Herman Cain.

No word from you about his historic victory? Even politically esoteric blogs are talking about Herman Cain and the voters “affection” for him.

http://www.buttsandhertz.wordpress.com

condor

September 25th, 2011
6:04 pm

UGA has been doing alternative energy reasearch..thru USDA since pre 1980..with no viable results on a national level..good pr but not remotely feasable…feel good politics…DOD is going thru the same gyrations..all a green political move for grant bucks.

Eli

September 25th, 2011
9:58 pm

Historic victory? For one, it was a straw poll. Secondly, it was a straw poll.

They are meaningless and Herman Cain is a loser. I do not hate Herman Cain, I am merely stating an objective fact: he is a loser.

Jordan

September 25th, 2011
11:15 pm

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Jordan

September 25th, 2011
11:17 pm

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