Notes to Sarah’s Ghost

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Soon to be ex-Alaska governor Sarah Palin has an op-ed published in the WaPo today [July 14] that obviously wasn’t written by Lady SaladMaster, and which derides Obama’s cap and trade policy while promoting ‘the usual’. Drill, drill, drill plus mountain destruction for un-clean coal and going nuclear. While I understand this attempt to keep herself in the ‘Puglican lineup of erstwhile power brokers even in her new persona as a Quitter Extraordinaire, I’d like to take on some of her ghost-writer’s points.

1. “American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant and affordable energy.”

Actually, it was not until the rural electrification efforts of the 1930s – which were financed by the government as an integral part of the New Deal – that electricity became available outside major cities. In many states of the west-southwest, the CCC and Army Corps of Engineers worked in tandem with the rural electrification programs building dams and hydroelectric power plants to supply energy to those rural grids. Most of these RECs were cooperatives, owned by the customers who purchased the power, and governed by boards drawn from those small communities.

Note to Sarah’s Ghost: This is Socialism in action. And it worked.

2. “There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!” + something about destroying the economy.

Actually, as so graphically demonstrated last summer when the price of gasoline was arbitrarily jacked up to nearly $5 a gallon so oil companies and traders could make a literal killing, a reasonably high cost of energy that reflects its serious environmental effects, the expensive wars we are fighting to secure it, etc. leads directly to conservation efforts instigated by the people themselves rather than imposed by the government. Consumption of gasoline suddenly got cut in half as people stopped driving two blocks to the bar or convenient store, car-pooled to work, learned how to walk again, etc. It’s good for people to pay the actual costs.

Note to Sarah’s Ghost: The economy is already destroyed. Did you not notice? We did. These legs are made for walking. Or riding a bike. A truly reflective cost of gasoline – which other countries have been paying for decades – will spur investment in alternatives that will be more environmentally friendly, will bring much-needed crop price relief to farmers, and will generate jobs as more and more people are out of work with no chance of ever going back to the old ones.

3. “In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.”

Massive unemployment in the energy sector began just weeks after Saint Ronnie the Reagan took the oath of office. He ordered the wells in the booming oil and gas industry in Texas and Oklahoma (where I was at the time) immediately capped. Then he dramatically increased our dependence on imported Middle Eastern oil, no doubt to justify foreign policy adjustments that have led to current illegal oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s under those caps is now “reserve,” as we struggle to use up as much of the ME’s supplies as possible.

Note to Sarah’s Ghost: The diesel engine was invented to operate on peanut oil. They still can. Oh… and America is no longer in the manufacturing business. That went away under ‘Pug’s watches, when most of our manufacturing industries went to India and China and Mexico and such. Did you not notice?

The increased cost of doing things the old way will spur investment in new ways. Those acre-size factories (and/or call centers, and/or strip malls) dotting the landscape can install solar panels on their huge roofs to offset their costs. Wind and water storage systems can help provide night supply, but most such factories don’t run at night anyway. That’s jobs in the factories, jobs in support industries (like installation and maintenance), jobs in production, and electricity in the grid. This won’t be done so long as energy is artificially cheap. Real costs will lead to real changes.

4. “Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source. Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.”

Again, America’s producing oil and gas fields expanded dramatically during Jimmy Carter’s “energy crisis” and ordered capped the moment Reagan got into office. They’ve been capped ever since. These are wells already drilled, were already producing. In order to increase our dependence on foreign supply so we could use it up and make vassals of those nations later on. Obviously, home-grown energy independence is NOT a Republican value or a “supply-side” tenet.

I live in Appalachia. I was in southeastern Kentucky last weekend and Mountaintop Removal is the absolute ultimate in environmental rape for fewer jobs and more poverty. Screw ’em, I’m big into making a law through NC’s legislature that would forbid Duke and others from using coal mined in this way. In Tennessee there are once-beautiful communities still devastated by the massive fly ash spill, and increasing nasty health effects nobody’s attending to. Screw that too. There’s no such thing as “Clean Coal” – those scrubbers have been required by law since the 1970s and are STILL not installed because all coal plants get a waiver!

As for the most expensive and dangerous form of boiling water ever conceived, don’t get me started… I can go on for months. All those “secret” scram failures, failed fuel incidents and big ass dumps that have been going on since the early 1950s have killed and injured generations of Americans and are STILL not being adequately addressed. FUCK NUCLEAR, and I mean that most sincerely as a one-time health physicist who has seen it up close and ugly. We will NEVER be able to afford it, in any possible way.

Note to Sarah’s Ghost: Name the forum, baby. I’ll bring my real cost-benefit analyses, my technical details, and some very sick survivors. You bring your ignorance, your propaganda and your lies. Then we’ll let the People decide, m’kay?

The way we do energy in this country must change. The change will indeed cause some trade-offs, that’s why the government is going to have to subsidize some things. Like offsets for the poor, low-cost financing to the low end of the middle class (that still own homes) to refit with supplemental power generation capacity and backwards meters, revamping the grid to recover some of the 30% of generation capacity we now lose to inefficiencies of transmission, etc., etc., etc.

Putting it off another decade or two won’t help, as more and more cities find themselves under water and massive population relocation kicks in due to increased global warming. Eventually it’s just time to pay the piper, and now is our time. Go back to Alaska and take care of your kids. They need you, we do not.


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    • Joy B. on July 14, 2009 at 18:18

    …about the nighttime energy supply in her state, but if she’s got so much oil and gas she should use it. She probably doesn’t know that we here in the “lower 48” don’t have 6 long months of total darkness during the winter.

    • Joy B. on July 14, 2009 at 19:45

    …(can you see the steam coming out of my ears?) I’d like to say something about Palin’s Ghost’s total, incredible ignorance of all things agricultural. I mean, it’s not like Alaska is some kind of ag powerhouse in the “Breadbasket” of America or anything. I just got back from Oklahoma last week. In the Mississippi floodplane where much of America’s rice and soybeans and cotton and such is produced, there are fallow fields as far as the eye can see, and late plantings that look rather ominous. This is due to disruptions in the chemical fertilizer supply leftover from last fall, when the ammonia pipeline shut down. This bodes very ill for commodities, especially if Indiana and Iowa are boasting as much fallow acreage of corn.

    Most farm machinery operates on diesel. As do all those semis that criss-cross the country bringing food grown thousands of miles away to your local grocery conglomerate. As do all those freight trains that transport the raw grain and pressed oils and coal and wood chips and everything else. As do all those ships that transport materials from foreign countries into our unguarded ports. As do all those tugs moving sledges of garbage and barges of more raw materials up and down rivers in our country. Much on-site electrical generation capacity is diesel, and it heats a lot of homes and businesses in the winter as well.

    When agricultural production went mechanized after the turn of the last century, the diesel engine was invented by Rudolf Diesel to run on coal dust (a byproduct of coal mining) or various plant based oils, most prominently peanut (but any old oil will do, including rendered road-kill). A farmer with considerable acreage can grow his own oil crop to support all the diesel activity on his farm. Co-ops can pool resources and install the machinery (also diesel) to produce more oil. By doing this on fallow fields with legume crops (like soybeans or peanuts), the farmers can enrich the nitrogen in those fields for whatever grows next season (natural fertilizer!) while having the means to keep on producing.

    Even if this country were to go 80-20 biodiesel across the board, we’d save 20% of our petroleum use for diesel in all applications right now. A 50-50 blend would save us half. Straight biodiesel needs no petroleum at all, and with sustainable farming practices overall, not a single acre would have to be carved from diminishing wetlands or forests. Really.

    Biodiesel is less energy-intensive to produce (there’s a feedback loop here that counts) than any kind of ethanol production. GM jointly owns a new passenger car/truck diesel engine with the EPA that could be deployed in next year’s models now that we own the manufacturing capacity. It’s said to be even more efficient than the new Mercedes diesel – 35-40 mpg or better. There is no good reason for us to put off doing what we need to do to get ourselves off petroleum and other nasty fossil fuels. If we start right now, it’ll all be done before the water’s over anybody’s head.

    • Joy B. on July 15, 2009 at 00:08

    I took out all but one “fuck,” substituted “screw.” Better?

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