Self-serving Scams as Environmental Solutions

When Republicans come up with environmental solutions, look for their real effectiveness and suspect that politics and greed might be involved. Some Democrats are deceptive too but the GOP functions as a complete tool of vested interests like the Koch brothers who pollute your place, then ignore your space.

Take the case of Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. In 2007, claiming a noble plan, he was a vociferous voice for Ethanol as an alternative fuel for gasoline. The problem was that Ethanol production utilized more resources, used more energy and represented an agenda that a long-term Senator from a corn state would politically be drawn to. It was more than “scratch your head” corny. The whole production and conversion cycle has shown a net gain in greenhouse gases while corn foodstuff prices rise and subsidized farmers get richer (Ethanol Scam).

Another alternative energy scam involves natural gas, but more importantly fracking as a means to access “shale natural gas.” Dick Cheney, former Vice President, and before that CEO of Halliburton, opened wide the door to unlimited fracking, giving an almost exlusive fracking license to Halliburton, which still gives him a fat retirement income. Early on, well ahead of other companies, Halliburton developed fracking procedures. In 2005, Cheney lobbied to get Congress to carve out an exemption for fracking in the 1974 Safe Water Drinking Act, which established the teeth to successfully protect the purity of America’s drinking water.

A powerful movement still claims that fracked natural gas is a bridge fuel to a sustainable future, and President Obama often joined that bandwagon. But a Global Frackdown reveals the destructive practice, not only in releasing more methane into the atmosphere, wasting huge quantities of water, and destroying ecosystems, but also regional health effects in terms of toxic air, earthquakes, and polluted drinking water.

Then there is “clean coal.” Actually coal is dirty. For each of several years – and into 2015, over $300 million of our money, through the Department of Energy, has been appropriated for “Clean Coal Technology.” Afraid to cross coal states, Congress still supports, and the President signs, this so-called research for carbon capture and storage of power generating plants which use coal.

What no one tells you is that carbon capture and storage uses more energy, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere in the process, to capture and store CO2, still blows off the tops of mountains (up to 1000 feet) to get the coal, still pollutes seafood and fresh water fish with mercury – and people who eat it — uses a few hundred gallons of water a day, kills and sickens miners, still releases CO2 into the atmosphere, and regionally sickens residents. Furthermore, coal mining creates very few jobs with the mechanized process of blowing up mountains.

Before you cheer the use of alternative fuels for cars, other things need to be considered. First, is it a renewable energy source that is used for building alternate-fuel cars and their power plants? Hydrogen fuel cell cars and electric cars both can eliminate most of the gas-powered car emissions but if renewable energy is not used to charge electric cars or for manufacturing hydrogen fuel, the reduction in emissions is quickly offset. Also the fossil fuels used to generate resources for fueling hydrogen-powered cars is another consideration.

What we are saying is that there are no easy solutions and that the solutions posed need to be questioned for their effectiveness. Politicians don’t often do that.

Politicians do not tend to be reasoning, rational creatures who have technical or scientific staff to guide them in cost-benefit analysis. Political advisors tend to be all important, so you can guess that much of what they do will help to advance their own political career, whether it relates to campaign contributions or misleading voters about projects that sound environmentally friendly, actually helping corporate supporters or vested interests tied to their own re-election.

There are exceptions, of course, but not enough of them. Generally, Republicans are the climate change deniers, the monolithic corporate supporters, Wall Street defenders, privatization champions, and demagogue specialists, but Democrats are also political animals, and some feel they must support “big-coal” and fracking. Consider Obama’s energy-independence stance, mostly fossil, and reluctance to kill the Keystone Pipeline.

But considering that more big money, like hundreds of millions coming from the Koch brothers, go to Republicans, we can expect the GOP to be the alternative-energy scammers, a stance that usually has big energy (meaning fossil fuels) behind it.

The day of knee-jerk voting, or not voting in disgust, needs to end. When you consider what party obstructs progress in Congress, what party shuts down and threatens the viability of government,  what party is solely for the rich, and what party wants to, in effect, foul our environment, you must vote Democratic – either that or get filthy rich.

In fact, Republicans would like you to believe the latter is possible, especially under their program of killing opportunity.

They truly believe there are suckers voting every minute – or if not voting, disenfranchised in states the GOP controls.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.