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WSJ Letter: ‘Some Inconvenient Truths of Wind and Solar’

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 13, 2017

“Dense mineral energies can be considered more environmentally benign than dilute, intermittent renewables. Peter Huber has written that ‘the greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material that must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt.’ He notes that ‘extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption’.”

Letters-to-the-editor are an effective way to communicate ideas. They are brief and to the point, appealing to the shortened attention spans that most readers have experienced.

Letter writing can be the best return on a policy writer’s investment. The King of the practice is Donald Boudreaux, Professor of Economics at George Mason University (see his many titles and affiliations here).

Through the years, I have published several letters in the Wall Street Journal. The latest was last week. It is published below in its entirety (the letter is behind a paywall) with some follow-up commentary.

Dec. 8, 2017

Your editorial “Alaska Drilling Dividend” (Dec. 1) questioning the opposition of advocacy groups to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge doesn’t mention the hypocrisy of major environmental groups toward wind and solar power in natural places. Disturbing a very remote area of Alaska is verboten. Yet the 52,000 U.S. wind turbines (the Cuisinarts of the air) grind up protected and unprotected birds and bats and produce low-frequency sounds and light flicker that disturb wildlife. Turbines and solar farms in rural or wilderness settings require intrusive access roads and transmission lines. Yet these are blessed by the D.C.-based intelligentsia.

Dense mineral energies can be considered more environmentally benign than dilute, intermittent renewables. Peter Huber has written that “the greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material that must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt.” He notes that “extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption.”

His conclusion: “The greenest possible strategy is to mine and to bury, to fly and to tunnel, to search high and low, where the life mostly isn’t, and so to leave the edge, the space in the middle, living and green.”

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Founder & CEO, Institute for Energy Research, Houston

Commentary

My argument for the environmental advantages of fossil fuels over government-enabled renewable energies stems back to my August 1997 Policy Analysis for the Cato Institute, “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’.” (reviewed here). In the last two decades, I have watched the grass-root environmentalists push back against industrial wind turbines in particular.

The term ‘Cuisinarts of the Air‘ is not new to me but was coined by a Sierra Club representative during a contentious wind power hearing in California some decades ago. It remains part of the lexicon today.

The Peter Huber quotation comes from two different pages from his book, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (Basic Books: 2008), pp. 105, 108. I use this quotation in many talks I give; it makes a profound point that turns the orthodoxy on its head. It truly is an ‘inconvenient truth’ to the DC crowd that is at war with itself.

2 Comments


  1. John W. Garrett  

    All that anyone who is intent on destroying the U.S. economy has to do is to contribute to Greenpeace, the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Foundation, 350.org, et al.

    Reply

    • Craig Astin  

      Those groups are not just interested in destroying the US economy, they want to control the global economy. Their primary goal is now, and always has been population control, they want to eliminate 90% of the population and strictly “manage” the rest. Of course they consider themselves as “managers” and not the “managed”. Killing off 7 or 8 billion people and dictating to the rest, makes for lousy fundraising so they spew off about the enviornment for cash.

      Reply

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