… and it is starting to look like they are mainly tilting at windmills, but still:

Confidential memo seen by Guardian calls for climate change sceptics to turn American public against solar and wind power…

A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama’s energy agenda….

A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.

Why. WHY?????

Here’s the story at the Guardian.


  1. #1 F
    May 8, 2012

    Because it has nothing to do with AGW being real or not, and everything to do with protecting the corporate interests in which they are invested.

    Why they don’t invest in something besides fossil fuel is another question. Inertia? because there must be some trade-off where the R&D investment and construction involved in extracting oil must beat out the R&D and overhead for wind or solar. (Maybe because they cannot actually sell the photons and moving air by claiming mineral rights over them and getting a gov lease for practically nothing.) Coal is still easy because all you have to do is level mountains…

  2. #2 MadScientist
    May 8, 2012

    We’re all born ignorant, but some people prefer to stay that way for life.

    In other news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17988492

    Trust the news folks to get the story wrong every time. The news is over-emphasizing the relevance of the computer climate models and seems to be implying that because they may be wrong, maybe there’s no serious problem coming up. And yet all our measurements are showing that the globe is warming and we know that means increased crop failure – forget about the comfortable temperature range for humans, that’s simply not an issue. I guess people are so disconnected from their sources of food etc. that they can’t imagine what could be wrong with having a nice warm winter’s day in Minnesota.

  3. #3 Tree
    May 9, 2012

    If you wanted to undermine the economic power of the United States, you might use the powers of state capitalism to lure multinational corporations into a honey pot trade zone. Once you sent them into a honey induced frenzy, you could ask them to represent your interests in their legislatures, else lose their honey source.

    Otherwise, it makes no sense to undermine the health and education of our workers, who we need to compete in a global economy. It makes no sense to undermine our infrastructures of energy, transportation, agriculture because it would eventually catch up with US plutocrats, no matter how high the walls of their gated communities, no matter how fierce their guard dogs and body guards. I’ve come to believe that trade war collaboration is the most simple explanation for capitalists who otherwise seem to lack appreciation for the economic infrastructure that taxpayers have built for them.

    Even Bloomberg, that bastion of free market capitalism, recognizes that we’re in a trade war (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-23/blame-china-chorus-grows-as-solyndra-fails-amid-cheap-imports.html):

    “China provided $30 billion in credit to its biggest solar manufacturers last year, about 20 times the U.S. effort, Jonathan Silver, executive director of the Energy Department’s loan program, told a congressional panel Sept. 14.

    China “frequently provides both zero-cost financing, occasionally free land and other kinds of incentives and subsidies” to its wind and solar companies, Silver said. Silver called for the U.S. “to take on this challenge” for a global market that will be “worth trillions of dollars.” He didn’t join critics such as Wyden and the United Steelworkers union who say China’s subsidies should be challenged as unfair.”

    It’s not in our national interest to abandon alternate energy sources when we’ve likely reached peak oil, but it would be in the interests of state capitalists, like China. Let the plutocrats corrupt our democracy from within, let us overextend our blood and fortunes on military adventures and then stand back and watch us crumble, just as the Soviets did.

  4. #4 J Doug
    May 9, 2012

    I wonder why it has to be something that is not predictable and therefore not reliable when there are other options out there besides wind and solar that can and will provide dependable power sources.
    “Hydroelectric power is Alaska’s largest source of renewable energy, supplying 21% of the state’s electrical energy.

    “Tidal energy is produced through the use of tidal energy generators.

    “Testing the Waters with Tidal Energy
    Tidal power may be destined to remain a niche player in the U.S. energy portfolio, but the low-carbon energy source has one key advantage over wind and solar–it’s as dependable as the moon’s phases ‘

    “Advantages of Geothermal energy
    Geothermal energy does not produce any pollution, and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect.

    “Geothermal Energy on Department of Defense Lands”
    It could be that the U.S. public is sitting on a renewable energy gold mine in the form of Defense Department property, which could play a critical role in our new energy future.”

  5. #5 Wow
    May 9, 2012

    “Why they don’t invest in something besides fossil fuel is another question.”

    Because, when you’re at the top, the only place is down.

    And after a salary of a couple hundred thousand a year or a wealth of ten million (less, really), the money no longer means money, it means leverage and power (and the avoidance of others power over you).

    Therefore someone earning 20 billion will be top dog. If the entire world changed and they were earning 30 billion and someone else made out EVEN BETTER and ended up on 40 billion, then the previous top dog now is second place. There is someone else who could enforce THEIR demands on them.

    They would rather than they dropped 10 billion if this meant that everyone else lost more.

  6. #6 Alan(UK)
    May 9, 2012

    I think that this is more subtle than it appears. The fossil-fuel industry is not really threatened by ‘alternative energy’. In fact it welcomes it. The purpose of this campaign is to rally the mindless right against renewable energy, thus producing an even bigger backlash by the mindless left in favour. The result will be more government spending on renewables; the fossil-fuel industry will be seen to be doing their bit towards ‘greenness’; collecting some nice fat subsidies along the way. The industry will be able to point to all this and say that people should not be worrying about carbon emissions because they will be getting abundant, clean, cheap, electricity without any need for subsidies – just wait, it will be coming soon.

    The thing about these alternative energy sources is that they are not really in competition with the fossil-fuel industry – you can build lots of and solar and wind powered installations but they will not replace any existing power stations. Existing power stations are either ‘base load’ plant that runs steadily at full output, or else those that can be run at varying outputs to suit fluctuation in demand. Sun and wind meet neither criteria. As long as renewables are small scale and more expensive they present no threat.

    The real threat comes from nuclear. The fossil-fuel industry uses the ‘promise’ of renewables and ‘clean-coal’ to distract public opinion. They have nothing to fear from old reactors being given extended licences – they will not last for ever. Their real aim is to stop the development of new, safer, reactors with a long working life going into the future. The problem with nuclear is that it can directly replace a coal-fired, base load, power station, like for like, but without the carbon emissions.

  7. #7 Lyle
    May 9, 2012

    Solar actually works nicely as peaking power in the Air Conditioning Season. The sun load on buildings is a max on a hot summer day so the AC units run harder. However the solar panels also put out max output at the time. If it gets cloudy, of course the solar power goes down, but so does the heat load at the same time. In the US south peak power demand is about 530 pm in the summer, when the sun is typically quite bright.
    On wind ERCOT is dealing nicely with up to 25% of demand being met by wind in the spring fall, of course hot summer days the wind dies inland, so offshore turbines are required.

  8. #8 MadScientist
    May 9, 2012

    @Alan#6: Which fossil fuel industry welcomes alternative energy? I see some of the oil people investing money in alternatives (for over 20 years now), the gas people not so much (that is, gas firms who don’t also do oil exploration), and the coal people are outright opposed to alternatives. I even heard one coal executive say something along the lines of “my company will oppose the proposed legislation and I’ll take my chances that my company goes bankrupt”. They sure aren’t shy about saying they’ll pour money into lobbying. At any rate, I don’t see the coal industry disappearing in a hurry either.

  9. #9 J Doug
    May 9, 2012

    I came back to this blog after reading WOW’s comment and wondering just what are they trying to say and then my logical mind took over and told me: Who in the world cares?

    For some reason I had not included nuclear in my original post because it is extremely important as an energy source for cheap and reliable electricity. France produces 80% of their electrical power using it and has the lowest cost electricity in the EU [19.39 cents/kWh]while Denmark has the highest cost power [40.38 cents/kWh] and attempts to produce over 20% of their needs from wind, when it is blowing and they do not need to buy from the EU grid. The cost of electrical power in the US is 11.20 cent/kWh because of this production mix:

    “Figure 2: Net Generation Shares by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors),
    Year-to-Date through March, 2011″
    (The pie chart shows this): “Coal, 44.7%; Natural Gas, 20.6%; Nuclear,20.5%; Hydroelectric Conventional, 8.4%; Other Energy Sources, 5.2% and Petroleum .8%”

    While nuclear has so much potential as an alternative power source to carbon based fuels it makes one wonder at the wisdom of the Yucca Mountain spent fuel depository being killed with no mention of an alternative being put forth. It should be noted that the majority of the money used to build the almost completed storage site has been provided by the utilities.

    It is great to read Alan(UK)’s post and not have to “wonder” what his point is and I imagine that Alan would concur that Margaret Thatcher’s quest for nuclear power was driven not so much by any desire to limit CO2 as to take the crippling power of the coal miners strikes away.

    Brandon needs no “wondering” done to get to their point and yes, Tesla had some amazing inventions and I assume that is part of the reason that he had the falling out with Edison that had to do with more than just the controversy over DC and AC and one must recall that it was his design that was used at the first commercial hydro power plant built at Niagara Falls. The problem with Hydrogen is, while it is the most abundant element in the universe, it takes more energy to isolate it than what can be derived from utilizing it, hopefully that will change.

  10. #10 J Doug
    May 10, 2012

    I do not think that what Alan(UK) thinks and says about nuclear energy is applicable to the US if one takes a close look at what I present below.

    One thing that should have been happening is more nuclear power plants being built. In 1973 when OPEC cut production because of the Yom Kipper War, U.S. utilities ordered 41 nuclear power plants. I’m not sure why there was such a connection when today petroleum produces only .8% of the US’s electrical needs and by 1980 nuclear energy generated more electricity than oil in the United States and that is great because why should petroleum, or for that matter natural gas that can be utilized for transportation and chemicals, be squandered to do something that coal can do efficiently.

    It was because of actions of special interest groups other than the coal industry that changed all of that in 1989 to the point where the completed, ready to operate 6 billion dollar Shoreham plant on Long Island N. Y. was never allowed to operate because Governor Mario Cuomo’s office would not sign the documents require to operate the plant. Most of the cost of the plant was passed on to Long Island residents and now the electricity that would have been generated is now produced by fossil fuels. There is one “green” note regarding all of this debacle that the past governor should be very proud of: “In 2005, two 100 foot high wind turbines with 25 foot blades were erected at the plant and attached to the electric grid, generating a peak power of 50 kilowatts each (1/8000 of the power that the nuclear plant would have generated)”

    This is an example of a country with no energy policy at the time that made sense and there is less of one now with the hoped for shutting down of coal fired power plants by the federal government. Then what? I guess it really doesn’t matter to a nation that doesn’t seem to produce much of anything anymore.

  11. #11 Alan
    May 12, 2012

    There seems to be a misconception that a coal plant provides “base load” 24X7. This is incorrect coal plants like needs fairly heavy maintenance schedules, to the extent that to get the advertised output from 6 plants you need to build seven. Then there’s peak load, to handle this you can either build biger coal stations and store the extra energy in a hydo dam or build a bunch of gas tubines.

    Civilization has an energy infrastructure, it’s not like changing the batteries in your ipod. Having said that, every operating coal plant in existence was build during my lifetime. We’ve completely rebuilt energy infratructure at least twice during the industrial revolution and it was a spectacular success every time. We know we’re screwed if we don’t change but who knows where a third generation of energy infrastucture would lead?