Monday, February 11, 2013

Larry Summers' "Energy Transformation" is a Policy About Nothing

In today's Washington Post, Larry Summers has an op-ed saying we should rely more on dirty energy - but dirty NORTH AMERICAN energy!
Fourth, the transformation of the North American energy sector needs to be accelerated. This will have economic and environmental benefits. Those who will decide whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run between the tar sands of western Canada and Nebraska, need to recognize that Canadian oil not flowing to the United States will probably flow to Asia, where it will be burned with fewer environmental protections.

Natural gas exploitation, too, could bring huge environmental benefits. Replacing coal with natural gas has much more scope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than more fashionable efforts to promote renewables. A period of record-low capital costs and high unemployment is the best possible time to accelerate the replacement cycle for environmentally untenable coal-fired power plants. More generally, the production of natural gas and its use in industry should be a substantial job creator for years to come.
This is Summers' entire section on energy. I didn't lift his section on dirty energy out of a broader piece on clean energy or even a make-no-choices all-of-the-above piece. Summers thinks the entire key to our energy "transformation" is what we're already doing - more dependence on high-priced dirty oil, more privatizing our public lands and waters to Big Oil while socializing the risk of oil spills, more putting our water supplies at risk with gas fracking, no mention of climate change.

This is what passes for transformational thinking with the Very Serious People in Washington.

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