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Front Page » March 17, 2009 » Opinion » Polarization of energy choices
Published 1,960 days ago

Polarization of energy choices


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

For the last two months I have been doing research on energy and the choices available to the United States for becoming not only independent from foreign sources of energy, but also to be nicer to the environment.

This research came as a result of our paper publishing our Energy 2009 special which will be included in all our local readers papers on March 27. As a writer sometimes doing research can get old; but I found this endeavor to be very enlightening.

I could go into the details, but I will reserve that for the writing I have done for the special and future articles I might put together from what I have been doing that will appear in this paper. However there is one thing I want to point out.

With energy, our country has found another subject to be polarized on. The polarization process for energy can join that long line of almost endless subjects such as abortion, stem cell research, gun ownership, land use, privacy issues, global warming, etc.

It seems that few experts agree on what is best for our country when it comes to energy, and that leaves the general, once again, in the middle of debate, trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong.

The debate is broken down into various camps; some very selective, some more general. For instance there are those that think the only viable energy is solar power; while others lump many technologies such as solar, wind and tidal energy together.

Others think only the traditional method of energy are viable; gas, coal, and oil.

Some have also switched sides in the debate too. Many "green power" people now think that nuclear isn't so bad, yet only a few years ago they thought it was the worst thing on the planet. That leaves the citizens of this country to try and figure out what is best.

Reliability falls on the side of the old energy sources. Yet we are all concerned about the environment, and even if one doesn't believe that burning of fossil fuels aren't causing global warming, they still understand the basic pollution that is caused by some of these sources and the danger that presents to our health.

In our present state of development as far as "new" energy technologies, we are still in the infancy of developing those to the point where they can be used without some kind of backup from the old standards. For me this whole thing is not an either/or situation. It is a situation where we need to look at, and utilize the entire spectrum of energy.

Many "green" advocates say coal can never be "clean" and no amount of technology can every make it clean. Yet these same people claim that technology can solve the downside of other power sources they claim as clean.

Industry, on the other hand, disagrees with those advocating all new energy sources as being the only answer and says that new technologies are coming along that will make coal, oil and natural gas much cleaner than it is today. They too use advertising to paint a picture of pristine mountains and beautiful scenes.

Malarky exists on both sides of these issues. No energy source is perfect; all have their good sides and negatives, depending on what you are looking for.

In columns I have written in the past about many issues I have often preached moderation. Taking the middle ground is often not what the two divergent sides like much, but that is what often needs to be done.

In the case of energy, I believe we need to explore all the possibilities, and utilize any that work for us. We can't shut the economy of the country down while we convert to more "green" power sources, and yet we need to work toward improving the environment as well.

No one wants their power down because the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining; yet none of us want to see damage that could be caused to our environment take place either.

While we all feel caught in a kind of energy vice, we are the customers of people that supply us our energy sources.

In this case we do have a voice because we can vote on it with our checkbooks.

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