Perry's Energy Plan Offers More of the Same When America Needs Innovation

Governor Rick Perry made a big display of presenting his energy policy last Friday. He positioned it as a bold new plan for America, but this drill, baby, drill approach to energy was already stale when Sarah Palin stumped for it three years ago.

It’s is déjà vu all over again. We've had a Texas oilman in charge of our country's energy policy: it worked out a lot better for Big Oil than it did for the American people. We wound up paying $4 a gallon at the pump while Exxon walked off with $45 billion in profits.

Now Perry is offering more of the same. I think the familiarity is part of the appeal. His campaign is going for the safe, tested messages here—the proven buzz words that poll well across a broad spectrum of the Republican Party.

When you have seriously considered succeeding from the union and you deny the existence of climate change, your Tea Party credentials are pretty secure. To win in the general election, however, you need the conventional GOP voters too. Perry can pick and chose from this “all of the above” approach to energy to appeal to whichever audience he is speaking to at the time: the mainstream and the radical fringe.

That may be savvy campaigning, but it doesn’t do much for America.

Perry’s plan calls for pursuing fossil fuels to the ends of the Earth. He wants companies to drill miles under the Arctic Ocean for oil and inject fracking chemicals deep into people’s backyards to bring up natural gas.

We can look in new and more extreme places for fuel, but Perry’s plan boils down to this: burning rocks to create energy. It’s the same technology we’ve been using for 200 years. Where is the innovation? Where is the vision that will carry America into the 21st century? Where is the leadership?

The rest of the world is racing to design the most cost-effective solar panels and most reliable wind turbines, because they know clean technologies will generate clean power AND lots of money. Worldwide clean energy investments were valued at $243 billion in 2010.

Perry’s plan disregards these market realities, and by doing so, hands over dominance of the clean energy market to China. He selling America short in a field we could actually lead in favor of one we never will: oil production.

Perry’s call for homegrown energy has a great ring to it, but when your home only has 1.6 percent of the globe’s proven oil reserves and you consume 26 percent of the world’s supply, there is a limit to what you can achieve—no matter how many wells you sink. That's not politics; it's geology. And no bumper-sticker slogan can change it.

America is already drilling more than we have in decades. Perry claims that President Obama has blocked domestic oil production, but companies drilled almost 21,000 oil wells in the first eight months of this year—the highest number in almost 30 years. That’s nearly double the amount drilling the same period last year, and nearly triple the number drilled in 2009.

Yet none of this protected us from $4 a gallon gasoline this spring. Nor will it protect us from China’s growing demand, Middle Eastern politics, or any of the other forces the shape the global oil market.

That’s where the innovation comes in. Better performing cars will reduce our oil dependence, and smarter policies will encourage technological advances. This summer President Obama’s announced new fuel efficiency standards. By 2025, new cars and light trucks in this county will go about twice as far, on average, on a gallon of gas, compared with today’s vehicles. The difference will save Americans $80 billion a year at the pump. It will also reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030 and cut automobile carbon emissions in half.

Now that’s a new direction for America, a way to move into greater energy security, cleaner air, and more prosperity. Perry’s plan is a retread. Sticking to the energy sources we have used for two centuries may help his campaign, but it won’t do much for our country.

Perry's Energy Plan Offers More of the Same When America Needs Innovation

Governor Rick Perry made a big display of presenting his energy policy last Friday. He positioned it as a bold new plan for America, but this drill, baby, drill approach to energy was already stale when Sarah Palin stumped for it three years ago.

It’s is déjà vu all over again. We've had a Texas oilman in charge of our country's energy policy: it worked out a lot better for Big Oil than it did for the American people. We wound up paying $4 a gallon at the pump while Exxon walked off with $45 billion in profits.

Now Perry is offering more of the same. I think the familiarity is part of the appeal. His campaign is going for the safe, tested messages here—the proven buzz words that poll well across a broad spectrum of the Republican Party.

When you have seriously considered succeeding from the union and you deny the existence of climate change, your Tea Party credentials are pretty secure. To win in the general election, however, you need the conventional GOP voters too. Perry can pick and chose from this “all of the above” approach to energy to appeal to whichever audience he is speaking to at the time: the mainstream and the radical fringe.

That may be savvy campaigning, but it doesn’t do much for America.

Perry’s plan calls for pursuing fossil fuels to the ends of the Earth. He wants companies to drill miles under the Arctic Ocean for oil and inject fracking chemicals deep into people’s backyards to bring up natural gas.

We can look in new and more extreme places for fuel, but Perry’s plan boils down to this: burning rocks to create energy. It’s the same technology we’ve been using for 200 years. Where is the innovation? Where is the vision that will carry America into the 21st century? Where is the leadership?

The rest of the world is racing to design the most cost-effective solar panels and most reliable wind turbines, because they know clean technologies will generate clean power AND lots of money. Worldwide clean energy investments were valued at $243 billion in 2010.

Perry’s plan disregards these market realities, and by doing so, hands over dominance of the clean energy market to China. He selling America short in a field we could actually lead in favor of one we never will: oil production.

Perry’s call for homegrown energy has a great ring to it, but when your home only has 1.6 percent of the globe’s proven oil reserves and you consume 26 percent of the world’s supply, there is a limit to what you can achieve—no matter how many wells you sink. That's not politics; it's geology. And no bumper-sticker slogan can change it.

America is already drilling more than we have in decades. Perry claims that President Obama has blocked domestic oil production, but companies drilled almost 21,000 oil wells in the first eight months of this year—the highest number in almost 30 years. That’s nearly double the amount drilling the same period last year, and nearly triple the number drilled in 2009.

Yet none of this protected us from $4 a gallon gasoline this spring. Nor will it protect us from China’s growing demand, Middle Eastern politics, or any of the other forces the shape the global oil market.

That’s where the innovation comes in. Better performing cars will reduce our oil dependence, and smarter policies will encourage technological advances. This summer President Obama’s announced new fuel efficiency standards. By 2025, new cars and light trucks in this county will go about twice as far, on average, on a gallon of gas, compared with today’s vehicles. The difference will save Americans $80 billion a year at the pump. It will also reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030 and cut automobile carbon emissions in half.

Now that’s a new direction for America, a way to move into greater energy security, cleaner air, and more prosperity. Perry’s plan is a retread. Sticking to the energy sources we have used for two centuries may help his campaign, but it won’t do much for our country.

POTUS Speak Up

Five Things to Say about Clean Energy in Your Address

It is that time of year again. This Wednesday, January 27, 2010, the President will glide down the aisle in the House of Representatives, greeted by thunderous applause, and encounter the usually more dignified elected officials in a slightly teen-bopper, Beatles-esque-frenzy, practically climbing over each other to shake his hand.

There's more...

Obama's "Five Worst Nominees"

Over at the Mother Jones blog, Kate Sheppard, David Corn and Daniel Schulman compiled a list of "Obama's Five Worst Nominees." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner doesn't make the cut, which surprised me until I read the short bios of appointees who are likely to put corporate interests ahead of the public interest. In alphabetical order:

William Lynn, for whom the president made an exception to his policy on lobbyists in government. Lynn was the chief lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon before becoming deputy secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

William Magwood, a "cheerleader for nuclear power" who has "worked for reactor maker Westinghouse and has run two firms that advise companies on nuclear projects." Obama nominated him for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Scott O'Malia, who was apparently suggested by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. O'Malia "was a lobbyist for Mirant, an Enron-like energy-trading firm" and lobbied for weakening the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to which Obama appointed him.

Joseph Pizarchik, who helped form policies in Pennsylvania to allow disposal of toxic coal ash in unlined pits. Obama named him director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Islam Siddiqui, whom Obama appointed to be the chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. trade representative. Jill Richardson has been on this case at La Vida Locavore; see here and here on why Siddiqui is the wrong person for this job.

I wouldn't suggest that this rogue's gallery is representative of Obama appointees, but it's depressing to see any of them in this administration.

In the good news column, Obama has decided to renominate Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, along with five other nominees who didn't receive a confirmation vote in the Senate last year.

Clean Coal and the Clause

Barack Obama Supports Developing Clean Coal Technology

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

You better watch out!
Better not cry!
Better not pout!
I'm telling you why,
Santa Claus is comin' to town.

He's making a list
and checking it twice.
He's going to find out who's naughty and nice.
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town.

We better watch out.  We better not cry.  While Santa checks his list twice, so too might you and I.  The ebony chunks Old Saint Nick might place in our stocking, contrary to what coal corporation sponsored commercials might claim, are not clean.  Nor is this source of energy cheap.  When used as a resource for power, this sedimentary rock is dirty, deadly, and digs deep into the pocketbooks, and personal lives, of those the industry touches.  In America, that may be you and me.


  • Millions of acres across 36 states have been dynamited, torn, and churned into bits by strip mining in the last 150 years.
  • More than 60 percent of all coal mined in the United States today, in fact, comes from strip mines.
  • In the "United States of Coal," Appalachia has become the poster child for strip mining's worst depravations, which come in the form of mountaintop removal.
  • An estimated 750,000 to 1 million acres of hardwood forests, a thousand miles of waterways and more than 470 mountains and their surrounding communities -- an area the size of Delaware -- have been erased from the southeastern mountain range in the last two decades.
  • Thousands of tons of explosives -- the equivalent of several Hiroshima atomic bombs -- are set off in Appalachian communities every year.
  • More than 104,000 miners in America have died in coal mines since 1900.
  • Twice as many have died from black lung disease.
  • Dangerous pollutants, including mercury, filter into our air and water (through mining practices.)
  • The injuries and deaths caused by overburdened coal trucks are innumerable.
  • A recent report reveals that in the last six years the Mine Safety and Health Administration decided not to assess fines for more than 4,000 violations.
    Source . . . Washington Post.  Jeff Biggers is the author of "The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture and Enlightenment to America."

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