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Unicorn Blood Makes your car GO GO GO!, or, How Michele Bachmann learned to stop worrying and love the carbon

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Today’s Star Tribune Politics section has two headlines, back to back, regarding Michele Bachmann. One of them is an eye-rolling tortuous moment of political tomfoolery about God (I imagine, I didn’t read it), and the other, well, is just ridiculous.

Michele Bachmann has been taking her energy platform to the nation, recently. Her energy platform is: ruin the entire nation because we have fossil fuels. Also, environmentalism is the cause of every problem the US has regarding energy. Specifically, the threat is radical environmentalism that “locks up” America’s fuel sources over concerns like: global warming is very real and a threat to human welfare, and, we don’t have enough fresh water to continue wasting it on costly fuel extraction. The United States are the “king daddy dogs” of energy, according to Bachmann, and we should be drilling everywhere, and using every fossil fuel source we have. And we should do it all in an environmentally safe way. But we shouldn’t worry too much about that, and to make sure we don’t,  the EPA should be abolished. Because that’s not radical, that’s responsible.

And when Bachmann says everywhere, she means it. The Everglades? Oil Shale in the Western Mountain States? The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?  There has to be even more ecologically sensitive areas to drill for oil in the US that Bachmann wants to add to the list. How about the intestinal track of spotted owls (are mice made of oil?) or the blood of a princess unicorn (if it makes you live forever, can it make your car run forever?)?

As much as Bachmann might love to deny it (radical environmentalism just has a great ring to it), there is a whole ream of reasons we don’t use every stone or drop of fossil fuel in the US, beyond the impact of radical environmentalists, that keep us from drilling in the ANWR and in the Everglades, and there are reasons that we are not stripping mountain sides to remove oil from shale. Just a few are

  • it is cost prohibitive to drill in many places we are not already drilling
  • the amount of resources, such as the ANWR, though high in number (billions of barrels!) would actually have a fairly low impact on fuel consumption, and fuel costs, in the US;
  • Floridians do not want to have drilling in the Everglades (“It would be as crazy as saying, ‘let’s drill under Space Mountain‘ in Disney World.)
  • not to mention that we are already drilling right next door to the Everglades National Park , sites from which I am sure they are already drinking the milkshake.
  • there is a very small amount of oil in shale in comparison to rock. In total the quantity of fuel is very high (billions of barrels of oil equivalent!), but the process of extracting it, well that just costs too much money and results in too little fuel.
  • not to mention the process uses untoward amounts of water, which the west has a distinct shortage of.

These are just a few reasons, other than radical environmentalism (how did concern about climate change and clean air and fresh water become radical environmentalism on the Right? how did they manage to skew reality so much?), that we do not want to drill and extract fossil fuels everywhere we might have fossil fuels. Just extraction, not even getting to the myriad problems of burning these fuels and dealing with the GHGs they release. Saying we have bonkers amounts of coal, which we do, is not necessarily the strongest argument for continuing to burn coal until we either ruin the planet or run out of coal.

Of course we will continue to burn coal, and use oil long into the future, but we should all want to stop, even if it seems impossible, because we should all know that there are costs to using dirty fuels. Even idealistically if not pragmatically, the Drill, baby Drill!ers should recognize that not using fossil fuels is preferable, right? There are actual losses, in human life and financial resources and natural resources, that come from Michele Bachmann’s energy platform. There is no way to debate these losses. You can justify them in a balance between the alternatives, but even Michele Bachmann cannot say these costs are not real. And it does not take a radical environmentalist to say: wait, your plan is too dangerous. How about we try something else?


Written by Christopher ZF

August 31, 2011 at 10:39

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