A few months ago, we wrote about Republican millionaire Jay Faison’s apparent attempt to bring some sanity to Republican politics and push for solutions to global warming. It’s nice to see another person in the party has woken up to the threat of global warming enough that he is trying to jolt his colleagues out of complacency and make this a bipartisan issue within the halls of Congress and government offices — not just among the voting public, where’s it’s long been a clear issue of bipartisan support. Don’t believe me? Here’s a recent finding out of Texas:
“85 percent of Texas voters – including 78 percent of Republicans – favor increasing the use of clean energy to generate electricity in Texas.”
Unfortunately, as we discovered in February, Jay and/or his trusted advisors are off their North Carolina rockers a bit. (You know, they actually have the popular Southern-style rocking chairs across the Charlotte airport.) From the February article: “As readers have pointed out, ClearPath’s 4 pillars of ‘conservative clean energy’ are: (1) Clean coal and Gas, (2) Nuclear, (3) Hydropower, (4) Innovation.”
This is so backwards that I’m tempted to not even mess with explaining why. Can anyone seriously think this is the way to go to stop global warming? The cynic in me says that Jay and team don’t actually care about global warming and are just shifting the discourse in this way because they know they’ve lost on the denial front.
But I’ll be the eternal optimist I am and assume that Jay is genuinely trying to hit the basket but embarrassingly threw up an airball based on outdated information or a lack of expertise in this arena.
The situation is, “clean coal” has long been identified as a mixture of a sham and one of the most expensive ways to fight global warming. You can typically build a new solar or wind farm to replace an old coal power plant for cheaper than making that coal plant cleaner. And if we’re talking about new coal power plants, that makes zero sense, since new coal power plants are much more expensive than new solar or wind. Furthermore, there’s really no such thing as clean coal, for a bunch of reasons.
Natural gas has a whole host of its own problems, including a methane leakage problem that may make natural gas even worse than coal.
Nuclear power is simply a joke, for financial reasons alone. Wind and solar are far cheaper than nuclear.
Small hydropower is a great idea, and we should be doing more of it, but based on items #1 and #2 on ClearPath’s priority list, I’m not hopeful that’s what the team has in mind. In any case, it’s a minor player. The behemoths of the new energy economy should be solar and wind power.
Innovation is always good, but “innovation” in the energy and climate action space is often codespeak for “no deployment,” when what we really need to be focusing on right now is deployment. No more breakthroughs are needed to put wind and solar at extremely low prices like 2.5 cents and 3 cents per kilowatt-hour — numbers that outcompete nuclear and fossils even if you let nuclear and fossils keep their massive subsidies.
I don’t know Jay well, but I’m going to hope and assume that he’s a thoughtful guy who is eager to keep learning. I hope that, with a little more research, and perhaps a swap of the advisor team (which could very likely be too tied to the fossil and nuke industries), he will shift his climate action agenda to focus on the most practical, lowest-cost, quickest options in the energy industry for stopping global warming…. Oh yeah, and the ones that create the most jobs! (Over 3 times more jobs per $1 invested!)
I think Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton get all of this, but Jay somehow thinks ClearPath’s agenda is more realistic than Hillary’s…. Say what? Here’s a recent press statement from Jay: “Mr. Trump’s presumptive nomination shows that voters are tired of the same old politics and want a fresh approach. A conservative clean energy platform should be part of that fresh Republican platform. As Mr. Trump builds out his policy team and agenda, we look forward to sharing an alternative to Hillary’s unrealistic clean energy plan. Meanwhile our focus will remain at the Congressional level.” (And you have to love that he wrote “Mr. Trump” but then “Hillary.”)
No, Jay, Hillary’s clean energy plan is very realistic, if we actually try and Republicans in Congress don’t block every attempt to make our world healthier and safer because of their long and deep ties to deadly industries. In fact, Hillary’s agenda could be more ambitious, which is something those of us who focus on this industry are actively pushing for, and I think we could easily improve if you could get your colleagues at the head of politics to work for a cleaner, safer, more prosperous, and more secure world for Americans, as well as other human beings and species around the world.