February 22, 2010 7:36 AM
Can’t Re-Invent ‘Clean’ Definition
By Bill Snape
Senior Counsel, Center For Biological Diversity
A clean energy standard is not “clean” merely because a Senator dubs it so. Yes, we need a clean energy standard. Yes, we need a renewable energy standard. Yes, we might even need transition energy sources to get us away from our current suicidal greenhouse polluting practices. But to call any form of coal burning “clean” is not only a joke, but also a dangerous turn toward Orwellian politics. The same holds true for carbon sequestration, biomass and nuclear options proposed by Senator Graham. We should debate those issues on their own terms, rather than slapping a false label on them for lowest common denominator political consumption. Indeed, the destruction of trees around the country in the name of “biomass” is a rapidly growing threat to our nation’s forests that is anything but clean for the air, water and landscape in many instances. Further, nuclear proponents still cannot assure us, inter alia, of significant waste and safety issues; Three Mile Island and Chernobyl are not “clean” whatever other attributes they might or might not possess. And carbon sequestration, besides being a gargantuan subsidy to the coal industry, is simply not a proven technology at the scale now necessary; why are we proposing to pour incredible sums money into that when we already know that wind, solar and geothermal technologies work well as is? We appreciate the fact that Sen. Graham has entered the global warming debate and recognize his efforts to bring along the more stone age-like members of his caucus. If Messrs. Graham, Kerry and Lieberman were truly serious about “clean,” they would be embracing a 350 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric carbon dioxide-eq. standard that the best available science tells us to follow. But Graham and other members of Congress do not get a pass at re-inventing the English language. Black is not white. Apples are not oranges. Coal is not clean.