Drill, Baby, Drill? No, Baby, No!

In order to fuel our energy habit, there are now more than 1.8 million oil wells worldwide. We know that 36 percent – 648,000 – of them will leak. In addition, we know that all of the oil and gas pipelines that crisscross our country will leak. Yes, all of them! And they’ll leak, not just once, but on multiple occasions. Imagine the combined impact to our environment. Imagine the oil fouling our aquifers, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Imagine the carbon being released into our atmosphere.

Yet almost all of this oil and gas production is an unnecessary risk. We already know of many non-polluting, renewable forms of energy – wind, solar, hydroelectric, fuel made from algae, and fuel from grasses. Indeed, scientists tell us that we can fuel our entire planet, including our automobiles and trucks, with wind energy alone.

We don’t even need oil and gas to make the plastics that have become the basis of modern manufactured goods. A scientist recently proved that plastic can be made efficiently and economically from carbon sucked from the atmosphere – a process that will both meet our manufacturing needs and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. Even a 16-year-old science student in Istanbul has proven that plastic can be made from something we throw away every day – banana peels.

So, then, someone please tell me…exactly why do we continue to pollute our planet? Why are we risking the future of our planet by continuing to belch greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? Why are we going ever deeper into our oceans in search of oil? Why are we risking the pristine beauty of the Arctic and the few unspoiled places left on Earth? Why are we mining high polluting tar sands that will give us little more energy than is required to refine them? Why are we even considering allowing a foreign-based company to build a dangerous pipeline across the nation’s largest aquifer? Why are we endangering our fresh water supplies by pumping pollutants into the ground in order to fracture rock formations and cause them to release oil? An even better question is why do we continue to subsidize Big Oil companies enabling them to make spectacular profits while paying remarkably little in taxes?

Of course, the answer to all of these questions is greed. The oil and gas companies and their associated industries exercise great power in Washington and the oil-producing states. They generate billions in profits. As a result, they can afford to hire powerful lobbyists. They can spend millions in misleading advertising campaigns. And, since the Supreme Court decision on behalf of Citizens United, they can contribute millions to political campaigns.

It’s time for the public to demand better; time for more transparency in government; time to stop the subsidies to Big Oil and increase subsidies for sustainable energy; time to pass legislation to overturn Citizens United.

The next time you hear someone say, “Drill, baby, drill” or “Frack, baby, frack,” tell them to go suck on an exhaust pipe. Tell them to get out of the way of the future…because it’s clear that our planet has no future with oil.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” Fails Again!

After its well-publicized failure to report the truth about the attack on our Benghazi consulate, one would expect that CBS, particularly its 60 Minutes crew, would be careful to assure accuracy in future reports.

Yet, this past Sunday, just 10 weeks after its Benghazi debacle, 60 Minutes failed again.

In attempting to uncover government waste on the part of the Obama administration’s clean energy loan program, Leslie Stahl displayed her apparent bias and ignorance of the subject. Under the label “clean tech,” she conflated high-tech companies with clean energy companies. (Not every clean energy alternative is high tech.) She also conflated the failure of venture capital-backed start-ups with the failure of companies receiving federally-backed loans. In doing so, she implied that a majority of loans to clean energy companies were lost. She also implied that clean energy is a fool’s errand.

Further, Stahl failed to provide real context for her story.

She failed to report that when a federally-backed company fails it doesn’t always default on the loans. That’s because the loans are often recovered through the sale of assests. She failed to report the failure rate of federally-backed loans which, according to congressional testimony by the former head of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, is less than 3 percent. She failed to report that the loans to Solyndra began during the Bush administration. She failed to report that even companies that fail often create products and technologies that eventually benefit us all. She failed to report that, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 2013 was a huge success. She failed to mention that nine states now get 10 percent or more of their electricity from wind and solar; that wind is now the dominant energy source in Spain; that solar and wind compete head-to-head with coal in places like South Africa.

Stahl also failed to report that approximately three-quarters of all venture capital-backed businesses fail. That’s across all industries. Not just in the clean energy sector. She didn’t recognize the ecological consequences of making fuel from trees (one of the “clean tech” start-ups she covered in her story). She failed to report the ecological consequences of basing our future on oil, most especially tar sands oil. More important, she failed to report the staggering amount of money that the federal government gives to the carbon-based energy sector with no expectation of repayment (estimates range from $14 billion to $52 billion annually).

Stahl suggests that taxpayers should expect more from our government than failures such as Solyndra (which was a superior technology that failed primarily because of our long-standing trade policies with China).

I’d suggest that we should expect better…much better…from Leslie Stahl and 60 Minutes.