Missing in action: the great climate debate

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According to New York Times reporters Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss in a Sept. 13 story titled “Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign,” the partnership between Obama and green-energy advocates began to unravel between 2010 and 2011, in the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which released 210 million gallons of crude into America’s prime shrimp fisheries.

At first, Obama appeared poised to end offshore drilling. He imposed a yearlong oil and natural gas drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, giving the federal government time to tighten drilling regulations. But then, Lipton and Krauss write, Obama tacked to the right and “recast himself as favoring an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, allowing the industry to drill offshore as deep as ever and moving to open up new regions like Alaska’s Arctic waters.”

For environmentalists, who had supported the president with abandon before 2010-11, drilling in Arctic waters was long a big no-no. The Arctic, according to the green movement, is one of the world’s final frontiers, a remote and wild region of the Earth, virtually uninhabited by humans –– and critical to maintaining climate stability, as it acts much like a giant refrigerator that cools the planet by continually pumping cold water into our oceans.

When the president called for an all-of-the-above approach that kept fossil fuels as a key element of America’s energy portfolio, alternative-energy advocates, who were hoping for a wind/solar revolution, felt betrayed, and so they have withdrawn much of their support for the president.

That’s a shame, because he has supported the use of wind and solar –– not only in his rhetoric, but with federal dollars. Under the 2009 American Investment and Recovery Act –– a.k.a. the stimulus plan –– the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $16.8 billion to green-energy projects.

More is needed, though, to help jump-start the fledging renewable-energy industry, as it has for decades taken a backseat to Big Coal, Big Oil and now Big Gas, all of which possess the working capital and the political muscle to manipulate public opinion across the nation.
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