Alternative Energy

Published on October 21st, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer


Divided Fossil Energy Industry Improves Chances For Climate Legislation

As we near the fall of the Copenhagen talks and a last-chance-to-save-the-planet climate bill in congress, there are some encouraging signs. In battle, you divide to conquer…

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Till recently the traditional energy industry has been able to front a monolithic lobby with an agreed upon agenda. Coal oil, gas and to a lessor extent, nuclear have outbid and crippled little renewable power, getting the lions share of Federal assistance and tax breaks long after they reached maturity; while also being able to command Federal negligence and outright lies about the costs of our dirty energy habit.

Sticking together payed off handsomely. If only all the scrappy little renewable lobbies and environmental groups stuck together like that, we’d be getting somewhere! We could learn from their example.

But now, instead of us learning from them; the’re learning from us! They are becoming divided and battling among themselves. Learning from our bad example of poor cohesiveness, the once monolithic fossil lobby is showing signs of fracturing.

Natural gas broke away to get some (relatively speaking) eco love from environmental groups for being 60% less dirty than coal. Duke (King Coal) and Exelon (Nuclear Power) have peeled off and joined the US ClimateActionPartnership. Utilities are dropping Chamber of Commerce memberships to protest the fossilized position on Climate Change. That lobby alone brought $35 million to congress every year to get what it wanted.

Steven Chu’s DOE has directly engaged fossil industries in ways to be smarter with their money. The industry is famously inefficient, with up to 70% of all that dirty energy simply going nowhere.

The Geothermal renewables division of the DOE is introducing oil companies to geothermal power by showing them how to recycle the gunky hot water they use for oil drilling to make electricity in the oilfield, and use that to run equipment that used to run on fossil power.

I don’t know if this was intended to break the fossil monopoly, but I think it’s having that effect. All this could be great news for climate legislation. We might even get Change.

Source: New York Times

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