I had to highlight this one as an example where the "two party system" has it wrong on both sides. The righties only want to hear about "drill baby drill". The lefties only want to hear about alternative energy and conservation. WE NEED BOTH, and until the parties are at loggerheads we aint going anywhere. I listen to you and that idiot H2O man (who rarely has anything intelligent to say anyway) and , pf course Okie and all I hear is thios mantra of more petroleum. Thats basically stupid by itself. We should be uing these resources and changing to a gas economy nd col gasification (most of the coal thats left in the Appalachians is too close to inhabited areas and mining would cause major problems) . Gasification can result from steam injection or COs discharge into fracked coal measures.
As this is going on we need to be doing advanced research into battery tech, solar power, geothermal, nuke, etc.
Both sides have it wrong and both sides have a piece pf the right answer.
The "either/or" political approach to energy policy, like its counterpart with respect to deficit reduction, leads only to the continuing paralysis we have come to consider as normal - at our very great peril.
I believe the core dilemma with respect to energy is that there are no cheap, scalable, clean alternatives to the sources we have today.anywhere on the horizon - and that is not likely to change anytime soon.
We have been studying clean fusion reactors for six decades now and with very little to show for it. The core problem is the containment of the high temperature plasma required to fuse hydrogen or other light elements. Periodically we see optimistic announcements of progress in this area, but the unhappy fact is that neutron embrittlement limits containment structures, and the remedies for it distort the plasma required to sustain the reaction - a deadend tradeoff.
So we are left in a situation in which we have (1) plentiful fossil fuels; coal, natural gas, even recoverable petroleum - but each with their own environmental problems, ranging from air pollution to the geological side effects of extraction ; (2) available "renewable" alternatives (chiefly wind & solar) that are relatively much more expensive, even with the "externalities" in mind , require lots of land for generation & transmission lines, produce electrical power when the sun shines & the wind blows, requiring power storage & recovery that is at best about 60% efficient; and (3) fission nuclear power which is cheaper than fossil fuel power and has a much lower environmental impact, but which spooks the hell out of everyone (26,000 dead & missing in Japan, but no one killed as a result of the reactor failures).
We have no choice but to continue using all three, while working to find acceptable ways of mitigating their defects and adverse side effects - knowing that none of the defects are likely to go away soon.
There are third and fourth generation fission reactor designs available that would very likely have remained intact even under a very unusual and extreme natural event like what struck northern Japan. It is noteworthy that the same earthquake also caused the catastrophic failure of a dam & hydroelectric plant which wiped out a town and a reported 1,800 homes. I haven't seen any details about fatalities, but it seems likely they were in the thousands - this element of the earthquake disaster has received almost no public attention. Should we take down all our dams?