I just saw another TV ad for the oil and gas industry. Boy, those folks must be making some heavy-duty profits in order to afford the flood of ads that it is purchasing. (Who is ultimately paying for those ads? You and me.)
Enough already! I believe we need to employ all kinds of energy technology in order to meet the challenges of the future. The percentage of each in the mix will be the question, and probably continually adjusted in the future. But the clean energy technologies need to step up their own promotion if they are going to ever come close to really competing with the fossil fuel segment.
Take for example the nuclear industry.
The problem I saw when I became interested in nuclear several years ago, is that the nuclear industry is “timid” in comparison to the other energy industries when it comes to working for its interests. In the United States there is no strong champion with the same passion for nuclear that there is for natural gas, coal, oil. Up until 2009 U.S. Senator Pete Domenici was the voice on the Hill for nuclear. (He even wrote a book about nuclear: “A Brighter Tomorrow: Fulfilling the Promise of Nuclear Energy,” and edited another.) A couple of others were somewhat supportive but Domenici was the Man. Now he is gone and I do not see a likely successor with equal fervor.
The association with the highest profile for being pro-nuclear – the Nuclear Energy Institute (bless their hearts) – still cannot go all out with the same kind of vigor and tactics used by, for example, the gas people. Why?
Because key members of the NEI also own plants utilizing fossil fuels. The right hand cannot condemn what the left hand is doing. So – tactics and comparisons to other energy technologies, that are available to fossil fuel interests and wind and solar, are strictly “off the table” for the NEI and somewhat even for the other smaller pro-nuclear organizations that have the same dilemma.
I don’t approve of the many promotional shenanigans that the fossil fuel industry has been trying to foist upon the public. Yes, one would hope the pro-nuclear team (plus solar, geothermal, wind) would be able to play the politics game more cleanly than its competition. (After all, they are the “clean fuels.”) But, there’s a difference between not playing dirty, and having to play with one arm tied behind your back.
To be successful, the nuclear industry must promote itself with an unbridled passion and publicly expose how it compares to fossil fuels in efficiency, cost, public health and environmental impact. (Put it out there on the airwaves. Don’t just bury it in some obscure report.) Better yet, we need an unbiased comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each energy technology that almost every person of reasonable intelligence on this planet can understand. Some much better decisions could be made – decisions appropriate to each particular region – if all the information was on the table.
How will this education of decision-makers and the masses be paid for? I figure the nuclear industry has some of the necessary funding already; it just needs to play more hardball with it. And, here’s a thought: levy a tax on what members of the fossil fuel industry spend on their own self-promotion, to pay for the promotion and development of the emission-free technologies like wind and solar, and to some degree nuclear as well.
Nuclear, along with solar, wind, geothermal, it would seem to me, has got to step up its game – both in education of the masses and with political clout – or its not going to see its rightful share of our energy mix in the future.
Deb Deal-Blackwell, APR