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How can America wean itself from fossil fuels when fossil fuels are so cheap?

America is supposedly the leader of the free world. What was the primary message during the presidential campaign? Energy independence, not the environment. We will continue to sacrifice our legacy, our natural resources that might better be left to subsequent generations rather than accept higher energy costs now that renewables, until now, can't supply economically (at least not without a carbon tax).

As long as our politicians can make campaign promises based on the cost of a gallon of gas, don't expect any negative news about the environment to make headlines.

While President Obama extols the virtue of clean natural gas, I live in rural Schoharie County which is ripe for fracking for natural gas. Never mind that it is a bucolic, pastoral part of nature. It has vast reservers of natural gas so, following President Obama's desire, it will soon be an industrial park and all the tourists who used to come here for our natural beauty will go elsewhere.

When you look at the cost of natural gas in America, it is about the fifth the cost of natural gas in Europe. Guess what? America is going to become the World's leader in natural gas exports. The "good" news is that natural gas has only half the carbon foot print of coal (we have billions of tons of coal to export to Asia---and there has been a massive ad blitz promoting "clean" coal).

Unless there is someone like a Randall Mills who can make low-energy nuclear reactions economic, fossil fuels are our albatross.


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    Nov 18 2012: Two things, fossil fuel are not eternal. Second fossil fuels pollute so it is not cheap the cost of certain types of asthma the population suffers from smog; cleaning the contamination of soils, loss of fish, crops from oil spills or contamination; the effects of mercury in the water; green gasses; certain cardiovascular diseases, and Global Warming if it ends up being true. So saying that fossil fuels are cheap is tricky.

    Besides the aesthetic effects and safety risks of fracking vasts pieces of lands for natural gas or removing mountain tops for coal is not worth all that fuel vanity. nature is not just out there to be exploited and raped at will.

    we need to contribute with more self-sustainable, renewable options not just because of the preservation of our natural beauty matters but to be ahead in the selling of those newer technologies before we come too late to that market.
    • Nov 18 2012: This is all true but the vast majority of Americans want cheap fuel; they don't want to sacrifice for their children. The natural gas producers have promised us 100 years of cheap natural gas; coal companies are pushing coal like crazy. You can quote statistics until you are blue in the face---like the fact that 500,000 people die every year from coal-related diseases or that coal costs the environment over $300 billion/year in damage to the environment---yet we are not willing to give up our "cheap" electricity.

      By the way in the UK the second largest source of mercury after coal is crematoriums.

      For all practical considerations fossil fuels are "eternal" i.e. last over 100 years. We can't get Americans to think beyond how much it will cost to fill up the gas tank in their car; global warming has completely dropped off the radar. Neither candidate addressed global warming during the entire campaign. Neither candidate talked about the horrible environmental effects of coal mining or fracking. The mantra was "drill baby drill" whether for oil or natural gas.

      The only thing that matters to the American public is energy independence; renewables play a minor role (if you believe the amount of rhetoric in favor of them). I don't have much faith that Obama will continue pushing for solar power now that we had the fiasco over Solyndra.

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