Gallery E

Price Wars

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Big Oil Is Fighting Green Energy

By James Donahue

As the world’s oil supply begins to run dry and the research revs up to find alternative and less costly energy sources, there seems to be an effort by the powerful coal, oil and gas industry to hang onto its place as a world supplier.

We all know it is a losing battle in the long run, but strangely the Koch brothers, major investors in the utility industry, OPEC and the big oil companies are working hard to stop the natural movement into solar panels, wind generators and other sources of power.

The oil interests are utilizing lobbists including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity to persuade state legislators to levy a special tax on rooftop solar panels, thus discouraging people to install them. In some states where the sun shines a lot the panels not only provide enough power to run the household, but allow homeowners to sell excess electricity to the grid.

Also a massive off-shore wind generating farm has been under construction off the coast of New Jersey. Several proposals have been made for what promises to be the nation's first major wind power project.

The strange drop in oil prices, from over $100 a barrel to $50 or less on the world market has been a decision by the OPEC nations to reduce the price of gasoline and heating fuel, thus halting challenges by green energy and alternative oil production projects like the shale oil project now going on in Canada and the North Central United States.

All of this when the new Republican Congress is pledging support for the controversial Keystone Pipeline designed to carry oil from the Canadian shale site south through the US and into Gulf shipping ports.

There has been a billion dollar government investment in Ethanol produced from corn, although researchers find that Ethanol is not cost effective and burning it produces more greenhouse gasses than conventional gasoline.

Also the Obama Administration has just made a new pact with Cuba which will open doors for commerce. And new rich pockets of crude oil have recently been discovered just off the Cuban coast.

These moves suggest that there is a strong effort to maintain the status quo in fuel production even though the greenhouse gasses produced by doing this is putting the planet on the path of environmental catastrophe.

A study by researchers at University College London's Institute for Sustainable Resources (UCL), published in the journal Nature, warns that there must be a "stark transformation" in fossil fuel availability if the world has any chance of holding back drastic climate change.

A recent report in National Geographic warned that the UCL study flatly states that "Canada's tar sands need to stay in the ground, the oil beneath the Arctic has to remain under the sea, and most of the world's coal must be left untouched in order to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Centigrade."

The UCL study strongly suggests that the political and financial fighting to keep coal and oil production at the top of the world's energy needs is a disaster in the making.

World researchers seem acqutely aware of the looming threat and are working hard to produce better and more economic sources of green renewable energy from the sun, the wind and the tides of the seas.

Nuclear power has had its supporters, but the 2011 Fukushima disaster has made the world sit back and take a second look at this form of energy.

Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense contractor, recently announced a breakthrough in the possible design of nuclear fusion reactors that company officials say could revolutionize energy production within the next three years.

They say the reactor, which would be small enough to fit on a truck, would mimic the Sun. It would fuse two hydrogen atoms into a single helium atom, and release ten times more energy per mass than regular fission reactors used in today's nuclear power plants.

Would these new type reactors be any safer? Probably not. But they would be more cost effective to build and operate.

While they may not be safe for earth-bound power production, these new fusion reactors, if successfully designed, would be highly useful in future space exploration. They can create energy out of almost anything found in space, and a lot of it.