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Mr. President: For Next Energy Czar, Choose More Carefully

Secretary Steven Chu’s replacement needs a practical approach to climate change and energy.

by
Tom Harris and Bryan Leyland

Bio

February 11, 2013 - 12:00 am

Yet instead of focusing on this problem, one suffered by billions of the world’s poorest people, Chu concentrated on the computer model-predicted impacts of man-made global warming.

“Ultimately we have a moral responsibility to the most innocent victims of adverse climate change,” asserted Chu in the letter. “Those who will suffer the most are the people who are the most innocent: the world’s poorest citizens and those yet to be born.”

In a vain attempt to control the climate, Secretary Chu allocated billions of dollars to subsidize renewable energy companies. Chu boasted in his resignation letter that “installations of solar photovoltaic systems have nearly doubled in each one of the last three years,” and “last year 42% of new energy capacity in the U.S. was from wind —  more than any other energy source.” He didn’t mention that the actual output of wind turbines averages only about a quarter of their capacity, since wind speed is highly variable.

The Energy Information Administration shows that in 2010, non-hydroelectric renewable electricity generation was only 3.6% of all generation, even though it received 53.5% of all federal financial support for the electric power sector. Chu has set the stage so that this dangerous trend will continue for some time to come. He boasts that the U.S. will soon have “wind farms, solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power plants that will be among the largest in the world.” And billions more will be wasted trying to find ways to capture CO2 and uselessly sequester it underground, a program Chu trumpets as one the U.S. is now working on with China.

It is not just in America that Chu has been pushing this dysfunctional energy plan. Through the newly launched Clean Energy Ministerial, the U.S. Department of Energy is working to “speed the spread of renewable power and mobilize talent from around the world to advance the clean [i.e. low CO2] energy revolution.”

Scientific studies, many of which are summarized in the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, demonstrate that none of this will have significant impact on our planet’s climate. But it will certainly have a devastating impact on the U.S. and world energy situation if it is not stopped soon.

Despite having had decades to mature, wind and solar power are far too expensive for widespread use, even in rich countries. They cost three to ten times the price of reliable energy from conventional sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. Pushing expensive wind and solar power over well-proven technologies such as coal-fired electricity generation will not help the U.S. “maintain our economic vitality” as Obama claimed in his inaugural address. It will result in soaring energy prices, and with that, unemployment and poverty. In developing countries, such policies deprive poor people of the opportunity to improve their lives.

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