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FEATURE

'All of the Above' Is No Energy Policy





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by William S. Becker

Even renewable energy hawks -- most of us anyway -- will concede that the United States cannot go cold turkey from oil tomorrow, or shut down all coal-fired power plants this week, or flip the off-switch tonight on nuclear power.

What we should not concede, however, is the need for the most aggressive possible push to get renewable energy on line. It should be our top national energy priority for many reasons, ranging from environmental protection to national security, and from economic vitality to social equity.

President Obama's recent "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future" is as close as he's come so far to issuing a comprehensive national plan for the transition to clean energy. I credit the president for understanding that energy efficiency and renewable energy are a practical, vital and near-term part of our national energy mix.

Not everyone gets that, or admits it. In a recent example of cluelessness, USA Today published a vigorous defense of plastic grocery bags by Jonah Goldberg, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Goldberg panned the president for being "convinced that we can 'win the future' with such boondoggles as high-speed rail and impractical fads such as wind and solar energy (emphasis mine)." USA Today notes that Goldberg is a member of the newspaper's Board of Contributors, as though defending grocery bags and classifying renewable energy as a "fad" qualifies as a contribution to public discourse.

What's really impractical, of course, is the idea that America can compete and thrive in the 21st Century with the same finite dirty fuels that powered us the past 200 years. From childhood asthma to foreign wars, there are myriad reasons fossil energy industries should be, and inevitably will be, dead men walking. Continued...

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