No Energy in American Energy 'Plan'

Dr. Hermann Scheer spoke these prophetic words at the Renewables Expo in Denver, Colorado in August of 2004: “It’s time for a general shift to renewable energies,” Sheer emphasized.

“This is the elementary challenge of our century. There is no time for further postponements. The curve of cheap fossil reserves, and therefore its supply possibility, decreases. On the other hand the curve of energy demand will increase. Only renewable energy can avoid a crossing of the two curves of demand and supply in the near decades. If renewable energy is not introduced in a broad scale and in time the dangers of global economic crisis and energy conflicts will be the consequence.”

Dr. Scheer has been a member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party of Germany since 1980. He is the author of , a groundbreaking book on renewable energy and of published in 2002.

Dr. Scheer also serves as General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) and is the president of EUROSOLAR, a non-partisan European renewable energy organization.

I call Dr. Sheer the Nostradomos of the modern era. Since the beginning of 1943 when the American conglomerate first got in bed with the House of Saud up through the 1st Gulf War, The War on Terror, and the War in Iraq, the people of the oil rich Middle East have been very strange bedfellows.

But as the old saying goes, ‘lie down with dogs you’ll get fleas’.

Two years ago during the Christmas Holidays our small mountain village in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania had lights on but they seemed to be dimmed by the loss of Sgt. Paul Karpowich. Karpowich was killed in Mosul by a suicide bomber, most likely a Middle Eastern ‘terrorist’.

In fact Karpowich’s memorial in the borough park states he gave his life in the War on Terror. I never knew Karpowich personally but I decided to take my entire family to the service held at the local church.

Wall to wall people gathered to hear top brass from the Bush administration preach from the pulpit about duty, honor, country. My dad fought in World War II in the U.S. Navy. I never served but I think I understand one thing about the military--we should only send our young men and women to kill and die for the right reasons.

Whether President Bush admits it or not, oil, fossil fuel, has at least something to do with the current conflicts. I’d like to eat least hear the current administration post this question if not answering it: How can we avoid conflicts over fossil fuels in the future? I know, skeptics of this question are saying but it’s not only about oil, it’s about dictators, democracy, and freedom. Fair enough.

But let’s remember what Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.”

Freedom, to me, and to my father meant not being forced to do something, anything, at the point of a gun. The Iraqi’s need to step up and fight their battle their way. And they need to do it soon. No one nation is responsible for the world’s security, especially not America, a nation unable to respond to it’s own problems (Katrina, Wilma) in a timely manner. Besides, there is more we can do about all this that we are not doing.

Namely, a strong energy plan anchored by renewable resources. Some Americans are now heating their homes with corn. Others are running their cars, trucks and buses on bio-fuel. Several college students drove buses across the U.S. to draw attention to the fact they were running the bus on used cooking oil from fast food restaurants.

Countries with less grain than the U.S. are fueling their vehicles with ethanol made from wheat and sorghum. Why won’t our elected officials get off their duffs and craft an energy policy that gradually phases out fossil fuels in favor of renewables? On Charlie Rose one night I heard the CEO of Exxon-Mobil say that no, the federal government shouldn’t impose extra taxes on oil companies just because they experienced large profits.

Why not? These conglomerates, molded together over the years from the remnants of the first conglomerates that got into bed with the Saudis, people who I might add directly or indirectly funded the 9/11 hijackers and continue to ‘educate’ youngsters in schools that preach radical Islamic fundamentalism, rule the world.

It is probably these very executives who stand strongly in the way of real changes in American energy policies. How can a country that’s willing to lose it’s best/brightest young adults like Karpowich (the man was a success in every facet of his life, look it up) in a war based on falsehoods call its energy policy anything resembling a well-thought out plan for the future? It’s appalling that battles go on in the U.S. Congress over whether or not to help other countries with their renewables programs.

What about our renewables program? Are the lives of our best/brightest worth that little? I think not. (Legislation was introduced by Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) that would prevent imported ethanol from qualifying toward any renewable fuels standard required by Congress.) According to an article dated December 13, 2005, and titled “$50-A-Barrel Oil Is Here to Stay, Energy Dept. Forecast Shows” written by AP writer H. Josef Hebert, oil prices will persist near or above $50 a barrel for years and force a shift to more fuel-efficient cars and alternative fuels, the government said, discarding earlier predictions that costs would drop to around $30 a barrel.

Simply said, prices aren’t going down anytime soon. I guess Americans have to be forced by their pocketbooks to take any real positive action. I propose this positive action: * Gradually change gas stations over to ethanol stations, eventually obsoleting gasoline as a fuel to run our transportation and shipping vehicles. * Increase incentives to farmers in the breadbasket of the world, the American midwest, who grow grains for processing into ethanol and other biofuels. * Spend hard earned American tax dollars on research and development into cleaner ways to burn coal.

If we are going to use fossil fuels until they run out (When will they run out? Nobody really knows but one thing is certain: THEY WILL RUN OUT SOMEDAY.) let’s use them in a way that is more environmentally sound. (When it comes to coal being king, that's all in the past.

Gone are the days when miners sang, "We owe our souls to the company store." However, "clean" coal may yet become a prince because the future is now when it comes to an emissions-free clean coal system. And the FutureGen project, although experimental, has the potential to be that big positive change the coal industry hasn't seen in decades.

According to Dr. Victor Der, director of the Office of Clean Energy Systems in the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Fossil Energy, his job is to manage the clean coal power and environmental systems research and the large-scale clean coal demonstration program called the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI). The CCPI is a government/industry cost-shared program to demonstrate advanced technologies that will allow coal to be used more efficiently and cleanly—ultimately with little or no emissions. Also the program director for the FutureGen research project, Der has worked in the department for over 30 years and is an engineer by training. "FutureGen is a new, experimental project that could create an emissions-free clean coal system," Der says.

"The FutureGen initiative was announced by President Bush on February 27, 2003, as a cost-shared partnership between the federal government and an alliance of coal-utility and coal-producing companies in an effort to build the world's first zero-emission coal gasification power plant. Its total cost is estimated at about $950 million, with $250 million of that requested from the private sector."

* Help existing oil companies switch over to the non-fossil fuels industry. · Provide tax breaks not for the wealthy, but for individuals and companies willing to use renewable energies including wind, solar, and bio-fuels. * Send a group of elected officials and energy experts to Israel to study the advanced photovoltaic panels the Israelis have created for solar power. Strike a business deal to bring the advanced panels to the U.S. and begin installing them in all new homes as a standard feature.

* Make a federal law that all states must improve their energy efficiency policies for all energy usage. * Encourage elected officials to preach conseration. In a speech earlier in Bush’s first term, Vice-President Cheney told Americans not to conserve because he didn’t think they had the willpower to conserve. * Vote once and for all not to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

After all, it was, as Ross Perot once said current legislation regarding ANWR protects the area throughout “imperpetuity”. In another article written by Hebert, he asks the question how much oil us reakkt in the Alaskan refuge? “President Bush calls it the most promising source of untapped oil in America and the key to greater energy indpendence,” Hebert writes. “But how much oil is thre in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Nobody really knows for certain.”

Should we believe Bush, a land developer/semi-professional oil prospector whose company, according to Michael Moore’s film “Fahrenheit 9/11”, was bailed out from poor prospecting by the Bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia? Rumor has it that Bush’s firm left nothing but a bunch of dry holes thoughout Texas and nearly ran the company, literally, into the ground. Even if this isn’t true, our so-called leader doesn’t, in my view, have his eye on the right ball. When fossil fuels run out, and they will, what will Saudi Arabia do for an economy? It may go back to being what it once was, a vast region covered with sand if Stephen Gaghan’s latest film, “Syrian”, becomes fact instead of fiction.

According to Rene Rodriguez’s article “Political Thriller Rushes Forward Like A Well-Oiled Machine”, Syriana takes it’s title from a term used by Washington, D.C. think tanks to describe a hypothetical Middle East that’s been reshaped and restructured by western ideology. Gaghan’s film argues that any and all American involvement in the Middle East--be it overt military action, diplomatic wrangling or covert CIA espionage--is fueled by one overriding interest: our consumerist culture’s dependency on oil. We may even invade Iran next if we ‘need’ more oil, so the insiders tell me. At the funeral for Sgt. Karpowich I couldn’t help but feel for the fallen soldier’s wife and family.

I couldn’t help but think about them for several years now, wondering if we were living up to one of our greatest leaders remarks: “that these men who died here, will have not died in vain”. Did Karpowich, who’s job in Mosul was to train Iraqi’s to secure their country, die in vain? First and foremost we must, as a nation, re-think what we’re fighting for. Is it worth it?

Isn’t there something else we can do to improve the current situation? As the world’s leader in energy usage, we’ve got to stop ‘consuming’ like little zealous pac-men and use our bullets if threatened but our brains as well. Robert Gluck is an award-winning freelance writer. Since 1977 his work has appeared in many local, regional and national publications including The New York Times. In 1998 the NJ Department of Environmental Protection presented him with an outstanding achievement award for his environmental video “There Is A Better Way”.