Solar Panel Fraud
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Al Gore’s new film, An Inconvenient Sequel, is a bit of a bust drawing fewer paying customers than expected. He’ll have to get friends to force showings of the film in schools. Captive audiences will be force-fed a viewing of out-and-out falsities in living color. They will have no choice but to sit there and take in a collection of misinformation.
One of Gore’s solutions to the non-problems his film describes is capturing energy through the use of solar panels. It sounds good until the costs and a variety of problems are considered. Career electrical engineer Art Crino claims government subsidies for different types of energy collection place solar power in the stratosphere. The handouts provided to obtain one megawatt-hour of electrical energy by burning coal, oil, or natural gas total $0.64. Gaining the same amount of electrical energy using solar panels starts off with subsidies totaling $775.64.
Taxpayer-supplied subsidies aren’t the only hidden cost faced by those seeking to capture energy from sunlight. There’s no sun shining during nighttime or when clouds and storms arrive leading to little or no gathering of energy. Partisans for solar power generation have even admitted that constantly redirecting the angle that solar collectors should be stationed is needed if peak efficiency is to be gained, a costly procedure needing constant maintenance. And the solar power promoters don’t like to be reminded that clearing away the snow after a winter storm might be necessary. Then there are costs associated with storage and transfer of energy acquired during peak hours of sunshine. And don’t forget that manufacturing and installing solar panels plus connecting them electrically and cleaning them regularly isn’t inexpensive.
The nation is being inundated with telephone salesmen seeking commitments to acquire solar power capability for single homes. It’s marvelously inexpensive they tell you while not mentioning the huge subsidies being the reason – which means you and your neighbors are really paying for it via taxation. If you aren’t bothered by unwanted telephone pleas, maybe you’ve been reading advertisements in newspapers or seeing ads on television about the wonder of solar power and its minimal cost to you.
Beyond all of this solar power promotion, you may have been victimized by the propaganda about the harm being done to the planet because “burning fossil fuels pollutes the atmosphere.” The culprit, say the propagandists, is carbon dioxide that causes global warming (or its new label, climate change). But carbon dioxide is food for plants. It isn’t bad; it’s hugely beneficial. As for it affecting the atmosphere, climate scientist Dr. Willie Soon says the amount of carbon dioxide produced nationally by burning fossil fuels is equivalent to adding two more attendees to the 100,000 fans packed into a football stadium. In other words, carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil, or natural gas is of little consequence – good or bad.
The United States is sitting on enough oil, natural gas, and coal to take care of our needs for generations – even while exporting to others. A few decades ago, U.S. engineers figured out how to generate electricity by splitting the atom in a nuclear reactor. But bogus scientists and political skullduggery have combined to demonize nuclear power. If France can generate electricity via nuclear plants for 70-plus percent of its electricity needs, why does the U.S. stay mired in less than 20 percent?
And, by the way, a megawatt-hour of electrical energy generated via a nuclear power plant receives a paltry $3.14 in subsidies. Recall the figure given above where the subsidy for the same one megawatt-hour generated by solar power is a whopping $775.64.
America should continue burning fossil fuels and using nuclear power to generate electricity. Those who want solar power should certainly be free to employ it – but without the enormous subsidy it currently relies on.
A Welcome Endorsement for Nuclear Power
by JBS President John F. McManus
Joshua S. Goldstein is emeritus professor of international relations at American University and a research scholar at the University of Massachusetts. Steven Pinker is professor of psychology at Harvard University. These two recently teamed up to pen a lengthy column in the Boston Globe entitled “Inconvenient Truths for the Environmental Movement.”The two men do believe climate change is caused by human action. They contend that burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity by humans – resulting in carbon dioxide being sent into the atmosphere – causes a rise in the earth’s temperature. There are growing numbers of scientists who disagree. But, unlike most of the would-be banners of fossil fuel, Goldstein and Pinker’s solution doesn’t target its use in generating electricity. They thereby separate themselves from environmental extremists who insist that the carbon dioxide byproduct of burning coal and oil to produce electricity is a hazard serious enough to ban the practice. Then they present a strong case for nuclear power.
Here’s how these two educators addressed this topic: “Nuclear power is the world’s most abundant and scalable [reachable] carbon-free energy source. In today’s world, every nuclear power plant that is not built is a fossil-fuel plant that does get built…. Yet the use of nuclear power has been stagnant or even contracting.” Their point, of course, is that by not relying on nuclear power, the need for burning coal and oil cannot be avoided if electricity is needed – which it surely is. They then make the point that solar and wind power amounts to a mere one percent of the need and cannot be counted on to meet the needs for electric power.
Aware of the fears surrounding nuclear power, Goldstein and Pinker point out that 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan killed no one. But, they note in sadness, it unnecessarily led Germany to shut down some of its nuclear plants. In France where nuclear power produces three-quarters of the nation’s electricity, environmentalists are forcing a shutdown. And the anti-nukes in America also wrongly claim that Japan’s nuclear accident is reason to abandon nuclear power here.
Many Americans can recall the 1979 mishap at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant. No one died and no one was even hurt. A camper who might have set up his tent right outside the injured plant would never have received any unwanted radiation during the fright-producing coverage of the incident. Pro-nuclear scientist Dr. Edward Teller worked himself into a state of exhaustion attempting to refute the nonsense about this accident being spread by Ralph Nader, Jane Fonda, and others. He actually suffered a heart attack and claimed his countering of the misinformation aimed at the American people led to him to being “the only victim of Three Mile Island.”
Late Colorado University Professor Petr Beckmann, the author of “The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear,” consistently sought to counter fears about the use of nuclear power. He pointed to the numerous deaths resulting from mining and transporting coal for power generation and the corresponding safety in the use of nuclear power. Pittsburgh University’s Dr. Bernard Cohen, the author of “Nuclear Science and Society,” noted the safety associated with nuclear power production. Before he passed away, he stated: “The radiation that a person is exposed to by living within 25 miles of a nuclear plant is less than he would get from one coast-to-coast airplane flight every ten years.”
America should turn to nuclear power for its electricity. We are grateful to Messrs. Goldstein and Pinker for saying so.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.
Wind and Solar Power Not the Answer
by JBS President John F. McManus
In France, 80 percent of electricity is generated by nuclear power. In the United States, the figure hovers around 20 percent, and it’s declining. Anti-nuclear power partisans point to supposed dangers in this form of acquiring electric power. But history shows their error. The only nuclear power plant accident in the U.S., occurring in 1979 at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island facility, actually demonstrated how safe this form of generating power truly is. There were no deaths, no injuries, and no nearby inhabitants adversely affected – except for the few who were seriously frightened by irresponsible propaganda.
The anti-nukes like to refer to the Chernobyl “meltdown.” Yes, that Soviet-built power plant did spew large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and it harmed some people. But, unlike plants in the West, it had no containment shield around it that would have minimized or even completely prevented any accidental discharge of radiation. Then questions arise about the harm caused in 2011 when a huge tsunami crashed into Japan and severely damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It now turns out, however, that the harmful health effects caused at the plant by that wall of water were nearly non-existent and two Stanford University experts who studied the event concluded that mandatory evacuations around the plant killed more people than are supposed to have died because of leaking radiation.
Environmentally charged individuals (they like to be called “Greens”) continue to insist that wind and solar power should replace not only nuclear plants but coal and gas-fired plants as well. They want less carbon sent into the atmosphere by burning coal and gas. Getting rid of burning coal and gas, they insist, will slow or eliminate global warming. But claims by the Greens that carbon emissions lead to a warming of the planet are dubious to say the least.
Journalist Barbara Hollingsworth recently noted that even after “receiving an estimated $39 billion in annual government subsidies over the past five years,” the solar energy industry accounted for a meager “one-half of one percent of all the electricity” generated during 2014 in the United States. TIME magazine reported that the largest solar farm in America, California’s Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, received billions in federal loans and incentives while producing a minimal amount of electricity. Wind farms, once thought by Greens to be a replacement for fossil fuel-burning plants, have proven to many that they are expensive boondoggles.
Over in Europe, Germany’s Greens have so discredited nuclear power that plans are being laid to shut down existing plants. But other Germans have found out that turning to wind and solar isn’t a good alternative. Instead, these people have learned the hard way that wind and solar power occasionally go dead – as when weather doesn’t cooperate. The result? New coal and gas-fired plants are being built to stave off blackouts, just the opposite of turning away from sending carbon into the air. And France, the world’s leader in the use of nuclear power, is bowing to the demands of her own Greens and planning to close nuclear plans in favor of what Germans are discovering isn’t the answer.
Three conclusions arise from this admittedly brief survey of the problems of electric power generation. These are: 1) Much of the noise coming from Greens should be ignored. 2) If expensive subsidies given to solar and wind power generation interests were cancelled, there would be far fewer opting for it. And, (3) Generating power from the atom is one of the greatest inventions of modern times. As a supplier of clean and plentiful electricity, its usage should be increasing not declining everywhere, even in America.
Then get involved to join the battle for less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.
Oil, Ukraine, and a Sweet Deal for Putin
by JBS President John F. McManus
The Bakken energy field amounts to the largest domestic oil discovery since the one at Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. Stretching over North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana (also into Canada’s Saskatchewan province), the amount of recoverable oil in this region could do away with any need to import the precious commodity. Small cities in western North Dakota have been overrun with eager job seekers who are benefitting greatly from the need for more and more workers. But there’s a need for a pipeline to transport this oil to refineries in states to the south.
Not only is the Bakken capable of releasing OPEC’s hold on our nation, additional discoveries now known to exist under the Rocky Mountain states hold an estimated three to four times what is being tapped in North Dakota and its neighbors. Shortly after beginning his second term in 2005, President George W. Bush gave the order for extracting this treasure. But nothing has been done.
The Keystone pipeline project proposes to ship crude oil from the Bakken and from Canadian oil sands projects to refineries in our nation’s southern states. But hurdles are still blocking its construction. If the Keystone pipeline were constructed, there would be no need for imports from unfriendly Venezuela and unpredictable Russia.. Yes, our nation does import oil from these two countries while also continuing to receive imports from the Middle East.
Environmental groups continue to block development of known resources and needed pipelines. Is it possible that nations who benefit financially and diplomatically from impediments placed in the way of energy independence are financing some of these environmental organizations? Also, why does our own government continue to be a hindrance rather than helping America to become independent?
On the other side of the globe, we see that energy starved Ukraine is highly dependent on Russia for natural gas. But Ukraine is also in dire financial straits, owing many billions for energy already received from its eastern neighbor. American foreign aid, supplied to Ukraine in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, ends up in the coffers of Russia’s Vladimir Putin for natural gas payments. Is this why he ordered the occupation of Crimea? Should the American people fill Putin’s pockets?
The need for oil and natural gas is obvious. But, if our nation acts in proper self-interest, America can gain release from dependence on foreign energy suppliers. Will the Obama administration continue to drag its feet on energy matters? Will the environmentalists be told to get out of the way of progress toward energy independence? Time will tell. Energy independence can be had if U.S. leaders do what good sense calls upon them to do.