August 27, 2016

Conservation is Conservative

Energy – Cleaner. Here. Now.

Cleaner Forms of Energy Are Always Better

America must invest in cleaner energy that is made in America. Cleaner energy made in America is better for our economy, our security, our health, and our environment.

In measuring how “clean” energy is, we must consider all phases of its development – the mining and manufacturing of energy generation components are too often overlooked.

Nuclear power and natural gas relying on environmentally responsible extraction are cleaner energy sources – and America should invest in their development, including R&D, to insure reliable, affordable, cleaner energy.

Renewable energy products relying on environmentally responsible mining and manufacturing are cleaner energy sources and should be supported through R&D, direct investments, and tax credits.

We Insist on Cleaner Energy Made in America

America’s renewable energy industry has been undermined by mercantilist Chinese policies that undersell U.S. competitors and have resulted in three U.S.-based solar manufacturers closing. China’s supply chain, including its rare earth mines, is not environmentally responsible. U.S. taxpayer dollars should not support foreign-sourced energy products that are developed through anti-competitive policies and from environmentally irresponsible supply chains. Taxpayer dollars should support renewable energy made in America and employing American workers.

Let’s Invest in Cleaner Nuclear, Natural Gas, and Renewable Energy Made in America

Geysers geothermal power plant in California (NREL)

Geysers geothermal power plant in California (NREL)

Geysers geothermal power plant in California (NREL)

There are good reasons to diversify our energy economy away from coal and oil.

Cleaner energy made in America is better for our health. Burning coal and oil results in unhealthy emissions of mercury, arsenic, particulate matter, and ozone precursors that have been linked to respiratory, cardiac, and other diseases. Public health alone is reason enough to invest in cleaner energy and to use energy as efficiently as possible.

Cleaner energy made in America is better for our national security. By developing our own domestically available, cleaner energy sources, like natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energy, we will be less dependent on OPEC and other unfriendly oil exporting regimes.

Cleaner energy made in America is better for our economy. The world is increasingly globalized, and more people are economically competing for scarce energy resources. The country that develops the cleanest, most economical, most independent sources of energy will have a permanent competitive advantage – it will have less pollution, more affordable energy, and more independence. America should be that country.

Cleaner. Here. Now.

We must continue investing in renewable energy that is made in America with American workers and developed from clean supply chains that rely on environmentally responsible mining and manufacturing. We cannot allow China to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. We must stop using scarce taxpayer dollars to support Chinese renewable energy products that rely on irresponsible supply chains and mercantilist, anti-competitive Chinese government policies that breach trade agreements and destroy American jobs.

We know how to build the safest nuclear plants. We must revitalize our nuclear industry and advance nuclear technologies through R&D.

We are blessed with abundant natural gas resources. We must invest in and develop those resources to their fullest extent. Fracking must continue – with best practices, sound regulation, and responsible companies, America has the ability to produce vast amounts of natural gas for our electric generation, manufacturing, home heating, and transportation needs.

We must continue investing in emissions controls to make our fleet of coal plants cleaner and we must insist on environmentally responsible coal production methods. Since China and India are building hundreds of new coal plants, the United States should develop the clean technology they will need to minimize pollution from those plants – that means more American jobs and a cleaner, healthier environment for America and the world.

Cleaner. Here. Now. It’s the right energy path for America to take.

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  1. txpeloton says:

    I like your new name, and I have a comment about renewable energy.

    Instead of waking up each day with the same deplorable issues facing us, we need to speak up to break out of this loop of insanity. Renewable green energy can make a difference real quick, if we demand this simple definition of marijuana which actually shows respect for our Constitution.

    16. The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts
    of the smoke produced by the combustion
    of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

    Then we can again grow cannabis to make oil, paper, medicine, food, and have a reasonable debate about the rescheduling of cannabis smoke.

    For more information, google Talking Points for the Peloton.

    • Rob Sisson says:

      Thanks for you comment txpeloton. We have several members who see agricultural hemp as a solution to many issues, and as an environmentally friendly way to create jobs. Drug policy is outside the purview of ConservAmerica, though, and we will not be taking a position on that topic.

      • txpeloton says:

        Thanks for your reply. My point is that this simple definition will assist the members which you mentioned, as well as the States in which they reside, and disentangle such policies which hinder their efforts.

  2. Patty Rykhus says:

    When it comes to coal, please don’t believe the hype of gasification and CO2 sequestration as being “Clean”.
    The gasification process does not eliminate the toxic by-products, it only changes the route of the contamination. Removing some contaminants from the air, but putting them into the water or soil.

    As a resident of Illinois, we are being faced with the expansion of coal development and we are not happy about it. We feel we are being sold out by politicians who are listening to the hype by the developers and not taking the local land owners concerns and the true costs into consideration.

    I am not against business development, I understand the need… but the cost to the local people and agriculture far outweighs the extraction of coal.

    • Jim DiPeso says:

      Patty, thanks for your comment. We share your concerns about the difficulties of cleaning up coal, although we believe continued R&D in alternative coal technologies is justified. Regarding sequestration, many technical, economic, and institutional issues must be resolved before sequestration could be scaled up. In addition, for sequestration to be economically viable, a price on carbon must be established so that coal plants could no longer dispose of CO2 into the atmosphere for free. For more information about coal issues, please see MIT’s Future of Coal report, online at

      Thanks again. Enjoy your Labor Day holiday.

      Jim DiPeso
      Policy Director.

  3. Patty Rykhus says:


    I have read the MIT report. We are on a slippery slope when it comes to the development of IGCC and CCS. While I think the technologies are interesting, the financing of the “pilot” projects comes into question. When I see my tax (and rate) dollars being used to finance these type of projects, I guess the big question that I have is… Why are we socializing the costs, but the profits are private? When I studied the Great Plains Synfuel Plant in Beulah, ND. (Great Plains) It was a financial mess, yet lauded as a success. In its case, the project went bankrupt, the government took it over for awhile, it was sold for pennies on the dollar, and only became profitable (20 + years later) after the development of its chemical by-product lines. So essentially, the taxpayers were asked to finance the front-end of a chemical processing plant. The $1.5 Billion debt, was eventually settled (decades later) for some something like $300 Million.

    Now lets move forward to Illinois, today. There has been much activity trying to get a coal gasification plant here. Many proposals… Power Holdings, Leucadia, Tenaska and FutureGen 2.0 come to mind. All have asked for substantial “incentives”. From a $1 Billion “grant” for FutureGen 2.0, massive government backed loads for Tenaska, legislatively mandated contracts for power at above market rates for 30 years… they are asking for too much and I hope all these plans fail to come to fruition. Why? Because the risk to the taxpayer is too much. If these technologies are the answer, then the industry needs to finance them, not us, the taxpayers/ratepayers.

    Lets look at Tenaska’s proposal in Illinois. Their plan is very similar to Great Plains, the current business climate and natural gas projected costs are very similar to the situation in the early 1980’s when Great Plains Failed. Financially, Tenaska puts us in even worse shape business wise for the taxpayers who are being asked to finance it. How? The business structure of Tenaska puts all the chemical revenue generating processes outside of the business structure of the proposed plant. The air separation unit (ASU) will be “owned” by an yet to be announced “third-party”. Why is that important? The ASU will separate the oxygen that Tenaska needs out of the air, that process also separates out nitrogen. Tenaska will require massive amount of oxygen, the process will separate out 4 times more nitrogen than oxygen. This nitrogen is a basic component of agricultural fertilizer. Do you think they plan on it going to waste? No? Me either. Great Plains plant’s business structure, the nitrogen would be sold off, and those revenues would be used to add to their revenue stream bottom line. However, in the Tenaska plan, those revenues would go to the “third-party”. Whoever they may be, a corporation under Tenaska’s corporate umbrella? Maybe and maybe not.

    The big picture here is that the revenue from the chemical by-product processing would not go to offset the price paid by the energy consumers, us the rate payers/tax payers. And in my opinion, it should. If I am being asked to financially support a project like this, I should reap the rewards. Not get saddled with the costs, and watch revenue streams being diverted.

    I used nitrogen as an example, the same thing goes for the sulfur, argon, krypton, xenon, and the other by-products. Those revenues should go to offset the cost of generating the energy.

    That’s my opinion.

    • Patty, thanks for your informative reply.

      A foundational question tied up in this discussion is, what is the government’s proper role in supporting energy R&D? An argument that energy R&D should be left entirely to the private sector is a legitimate point of view, as long as we keep in mind the trade-offs: private companies will not fund R&D that might have broad public benefits — e.g. pollution reduction, technology cost reductions — if the prospects for profits are too speculative to justify to shareholders and/or competitors would benefit from the research.

      Likewise, an argument that the government should support energy R&D also is legitimate, as long as we keep in mind the trade-offs: by its nature, R&D is risky, and some of the projects will turn out to be duds, whether it’s synfuels or Solyndra. There might be ways of structuring support to reduce economic risks to taxpayers: this year’s Allison report on the federal loan guarantee program recommended structuring loans to ensure higher rewards for taxpayers for higher-risk technologies. One option would be an equity buy-in giving taxpayers a stake that could earn a return if a project is economically successful. Other useful suggestions were included in a joint report this year by the Breakthrough, Brookings, and World Resources Institutes, which recommended reforms for supporting emerging energy technologies that drive cost reductions and wean them off subsidies. You can view that report at:

      Thanks again for your interest.

    • Patty Rykhus says:

      There is a vast difference between supporting the R & D and cash flowing it totally. In multiple multi-Billion dollar projects simultaneously. Come on, 1 Billion Dollars for FutureGen 2.0? Get real.

  4. Thank you for this article and the link to the report. I’ve been following this blog for a while now and I am thankful that you are breaking down the political barriers and speaking on what needs to be said.


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