Patterico's Pontifications


Paying for Al Gore’s Magical Energy Plan — Just Close Your Eyes And Click Your Heels Together Three Times and Say “Yes We Can”

Filed under: General — WLS @ 3:43 pm

Posted by WLS: 

That’s about all Tom Brokaw could get out of Al Gore yesterday on the question of how the country would pay for his 10 year plan to a carbon-free production of electricity nationwide.

Lets just contemplate for a moment the enormity of that suggestion — no more coal fired plants, no more natural gas fired plants, and no more nuke plants (though they are carbon free).  Coal and natural gas alone are about 70% of all electricity production. 

When asked by Brokaw at various points how the economy could afford such an enormous expense over just ten years — or the same amount of time Obama plans to be President — Gore said the following:

MR. BROKAW:  I don’t think anyone doubts that we have to make some profound changes in this country and make some tough decisions and maybe even suffer some pain, but let’s talk about the cost.  This is your own group in terms of describing what this may cost.  The numbers are from $1 1/2 trillion to $3 trillion as an estimate.  Where does that money come from for a new president who is facing a $400 billion deficit, has two wars going on, needs an economic stimulus if it’s a Democrat, as Obama has outlined–we have a housing crisis in this country–and probably diminished tax revenues?

VICE PRES. GORE:  Well, those, those are not all public funds.  That’s the total private and public investment, which is comparable to what we would spend over that same period of time if we continued to rely on coal and oil, which is rising so rapidly in price.  It’s less than the cost of the Iraq war, according to Joe Stiglitz and some other economists, and it is an investment.

Well Al — since we would have to continue spending money on coal and oil during the transition period, its not like we can simply substitute one set of costs for the other.  So, the question remains, where do we get the $1.5 to $3 trillion to cover the entire states of Arizona and New Mexico in photovoltaic cells, and build the non-stop stretch of wind mills from Montana to Houston?

MR. BROKAW:  What would electricity cost in terms of the transition while it’s under way?  Most estimates are that it would cost a lot more money, and that would have a devastating effect on Main Street and especially on rural America.

VICE PRES. GORE:  Well, I, I don’t agree with that, and I think that the devastating effect on Main Street and the rest of the country is coming from the present rising costs for electricity.  And the reason why is China and the other emerging economies again are bidding up the price of every lump of coal and every drop of oil, and the new discoveries have been declining, so the estimates are now that these price increases are likely to continue until we stop just taking baby steps and offering gimmicks and, instead, have a strategic initiative.

Yeah Al, we get it — electricity and gas are expensive now, and getting more expensive.  Now answer the fooking question since its your fooking proposal — what source of money is going to be used to pay the $1.5 to $3 trillion transition costs?   Its not like we can simply stop paying for electricity generation while you’re out there in the desert wiring your solar panels together with a glue gun.  People are going to keep sending their checks each month to the power company for the AC and lights.  Do you intend to tax them on top of their household expenses to bring your grand vision into creation?

MR. BROKAW:  But what do we have to give up to reach the cost of a trillion and a half to three trillion dollars?  There’s going to have to be some pain, some sacrifice on the part of the American taxpayer, isn’t there?

VICE PRES. GORE:  Well, I, I think we should have a shift in our tax system, and I think we should tax what we burn and not what we earn, and I think we should take account of the incredibly expensive environmental costs that go into burning coal and oil.  I also think that the coal and oil industries can play a big role in this if they will make good on the promise that carbon capture and sequestration will be real.  Right now, there’s no demonstration project, there’s nothing real about it.  The, the phrase clean coal is a contradiction in terms.  There’s no such thing as clean coal now.  But the industry knows that with an all-out push toward capturing the CO2 and burying it safely, that can be done.

Here’s the headline I expected to see today in the NYT — don’t know how they missed it:


Thanks for being here Al, but your inability to answer the FREAKING QUESTION only demonstrates the wisdom of the electoral college in keeping your fat ass out of the WH.

39 Responses to “Paying for Al Gore’s Magical Energy Plan — Just Close Your Eyes And Click Your Heels Together Three Times and Say “Yes We Can””

  1. Ah so you admit the election was stolen!

    David Ehrenstein (85f463)

  2. I am so sick of Algore and the millions he’s making off of this completely phony climate change thing of his. Yeah, the average temperature has risen about 1 degree over the last 100 years, but it wasn’t due to anything humans have done. The temperature has increased and decreased since the beginning of time. It’s largely because of him and his environmental wacko minions that we are experiencing so much inflation right now. Gas, food, travel of any kind, shipping costs, you name it. We’re getting screwed big time.

    jwarner (0c2175)

  3. Al refuses to debate the GW skeptics, after agreeing earlier to do so. No courage in his convictions, none whatsoever.

    Dmac (416471)

  4. But the industry knows that with an all-out push toward capturing the CO2 and burying it safely

    I would dearly love to see his plans for “capturing” all of the CO2 that is exhaled every day by human beings and their non-human animal companions (aka “pets” and “livestock”).

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  5. You flat-earthers are truly hilarious.

    David Ehrenstein (85f463)

  6. You know, if former Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore had simply suggested a reasonably accelerated replacement program for existing power plants, with a transition to non-carbon fuels, he might actually have made some sense. Every machine man ever builds eventually wears out and has to be replaced, so that, if we mature the technologies required, we could eventually do as Mr Gore suggests, but that’s a sixty-year project.

    It was when he went on his “ten-year necessity” that he veered off into the weeds — some of which he apparently smoked.

    It does tell us, though, how Al Gore got worse grades in college than George Bush, and managed to obtain a degree without ever taking any science or math classes.

    Still, you’d think in that huge, kilowatt-burning mansion of his, with all of the staff he has, someone could have taken a few minutes just to look up how many power plants we have, and what fuels they use. I managed to find it, [shameless blog plug alert!] just with Teh Google, in just a couple of minutes, but Al Gore couldn’t?

    Dana R Pico (556f76)

  7. Great post, WLS

    h2u (81b7bd)

  8. Completely retire fossil fuels in 10 years? Al Gore is nuttier than I thought. I always knew he was a blithering idiot, but now he thinks that the rest of us are.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. “… make good on the promise that carbon capture and sequestration will be real …”

    I keep hearing about this as if it’s real. Has anybody anywhere ever burned coal, spent the energy to capture the CO2 and bury it, and still had energy left over for sale? Nope. Every time you hear somebody say “clean coal” (Dem or Repub,) that’s what they’re talking about, and it’s pure moonshine. At least solar and wind are working today in practical applications.

    g Hussein p (ea9df7)

  10. Well, I, I think we should have a shift in our tax system, and I think we should tax what we burn and not what we earn.

    What, is Gore channeling Jesse Jackson? Were we really in dire need of someone who tries to simplify complex economic decisions with trite rhymes? Let’s give Al a few more to consider:

    They pollute our air and it’s just not fair.

    We need more can-do, less CO2.

    You’ll save money, you see, if you don’t drive your SUV.

    And what’s this with “burying” the CO2? Are we going to bury it right next to the nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain? Has someone apprised Harry Reid of this? Or maybe Al will let us bury it in Carthage, Tennessee.

    JVW (6a7c34)

  11. All life on this planet is carbon based. Just when did carbon become such a poison? Oh, that’s right, after Algore lost the election (but he won the popular vote…)

    kimsch (2ce939)

  12. I’ll give a crap about what Gore says when his monthly energy usage is less than mine.

    kaf (2b581f)

  13. The astonishing part of that interview was Tom Brokaw TOTALLY IGNORING nuclear power – energy that currently makes up 20% of US supply, and could easily satisfy Al Gore’s 10 year goal of zero-emission electricity generation. What is Al Gore’s position on nuclear? Tom could have asked.

    The progressives seem to be easing up on nuclear. Frankly, I’d go along with a deal which greatly expands green energy at the same time greatly expanding nuclear and natural gas production. Throw in “clean” coal if we can.

    Wesson (f6c982)

  14. A Ten-Year Plan?
    Even the Soviets would only commit to five years.
    Wall Street is only interested in next-quarter.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  15. None of this is going to happen. AGW has not been raised as an issue in good faith – i.e., because it is a true problem, and we need to start planning on how to remedy that problem before it’s too late.

    AGW is simply – only – a tactical thrust to capture voters for the liberal causes. If BO wins, and if we have a D-dominated H and S, just watch – it’ll be business as usual, there will be a few token “anti-AGW” measures placed into law, but the painful, costly measures that they claim (for now)MUST be taken won’t be taken, and, in fact, about six months after the election, we’ll hear various hard-line AGW-adherent politicians expressing some doubt about the concept, and indicating that it “needs further study before we burden the poor and middle-class people . . and THEIR CHILDREN! . . . with such draconian steps.”

    And we’ll have been rolled.

    bobby b (4baf73)

  16. So, the question remains, where do we get the $1.5 to $3 trillion to cover the entire states of Arizona and New Mexico in photovoltaic cells, and build the non-stop stretch of wind mills from Montana to Houston?

    Bonds backed by the future revenue stream.

    I don’t know if that would be enough, but it seems like a good starting place.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  17. Libs never worry if it will be enough, as long as they can get the camel’s nose under the tent.

    WLS (02df99)

  18. So let me get this straight: Progressives say that the US is hated all over the world because of our excessive consumption, along with a foreign policy that meddles with sovereign nations, right? And we’re supposed to buy the idea that simply changing the US over to non-fossil fuels at insane expense and dubious probability will then lead to non-AGW conditions?

    If, stay with me here, we were to go completely non-fossil fuel in 10 years, would that not lower the price of the remaining fossil fuels, enough so that the rest of the developing world (whose growing populations may have trouble coming up with the trillions of extra cash to go non-ff) would use more fossil fuels, erasing the gains that our stabilized population suffered so greatly to bring about?

    So to keep that from occurring, we would then need to have some influence over their ‘sovereignty’, would we not? Along with their expanding populations’ consumption rates. And they’re going to go along with this?

    I guess sovereignty only counts when it’s someone else’s war.

    Even if it works, it doesn’t work.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  19. Apogee,

    “Even if it works, it doesn’t work.”

    Good observation. But remember the most important thing is we will have done the right thing in those progressives’ eyes. Thus, the world will no longer hate us but embrace us. And that is what matters most…until that issue of having the upper hand re sovereignty rears its ugly little head….

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  20. aphrael,

    Market-driven entrepreneurs like Boone Pickens are already funding alternative energy sources like this Texas wind farm that will power 1.3M homes.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  21. Dana #19 – Thus, the world will no longer hate us but embrace us.

    Pardon my poor communication skills. I was pointing out that in order to do the right thing a la Gore, we would need to engage in a much higher level of influence (if not outright control) of the rest of the world than we currently do at this point, and we are being told that our current level of interaction with the world is producing hatred of this country. In addition to impossible, the scenario is self-contradictory, as is all of leftist thought.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  22. aphrael,

    The cost for just the photovoltaic cells required to generate one million megawatts of power (our current electrical power needs) would be about 15 trillion dollars! And power and energy would only be generated about 35% of the time, thus, requiring conventional power plants as backup. Of course the renewable energy zealots would claim that we could position photovoltaic farms around the world so that we are provided electrical energy 24 hours per day. Let’s humor them and assume that there are no energy losses in transporting this electrical energy half-way around the world on ultra high-voltage transmission lines. The costs of photovoltaic cells for this scheme now would be about 43 trillion dollars. Furthermore, structures (plywood, etc.) to support the photovoltaic panels would cost an additional 8 trillion dollars or more. Do you know what the latter cost would do to the home construction industry? Is any of this getting through to you? Al Gore and the rest of the people who propose this kind of crap should develop some common sense before exposing your ignorance in public.


    Jose Sanchez (75d27a)

  23. Apogee, thanks, I’ve got it now. Nice point re leftist thought being self-contradictory.

    “In addition to impossible…”

    You just need a spoonful of that Hope and Change.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  24. But it tastes mediciney.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  25. Seriously, is everyone asleep?

    Well, I, I think we should have a shift in our tax system, and I think we should tax what we burn and not what we earn…

    A tax like this is extremely regressive. The poor will get walloped and the rich will get even richer. There’s a reason why most states don’t have a tax on food, because that tax would disproportionately hit the poor, who spend most of what they earn. Likewise, a tax on fuel use — whether gasoline, home heating oil, etc. — will also hit those least able to afford it.

    And this guy is a Democrat?

    Hoystory (08dea2)

  26. Make food and medicine tax-free. (Be as generous as you wish in your definitions of each.) The increase in take home pay from not having 1/3 of your check not taken away before you ever see it could make buying things a whole lot easier.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  27. Hoystory #24 – And this guy is a Democrat? Seriously, is everyone asleep?

    Good points, but I tend to think that Obama’s detractors don’t believe anything he says, and his supporters don’t listen to the details of anything he says, so he ends up just filling airtime, with no expectation of delivery.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  28. Wow. Freudian slip – I meant Gore.

    Although it might not matter.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  29. Albore and Pelosi like to fly in jets; big whacking jets. If, as Albore, said we have to get entirely off fossil fuels within 10 years or the world will sink into calamity–just what is going to fuel Albore’s and Pelosi’s jets? How will these two saints get around to bring enlightenment and grace to us all? You’re right–the Goracle’s driven his plan into the weeds and has been smoking some of them.

    Mike Myers (31af82)

  30. you are so obnoxious. Before i comment on the discussion, please have something intelligent to say because you just keep writing stupid comments in between these questions. Here is the bottom line moron, We are going to have to spend several trillion dollars if we continue to rely on oil> Where is that money going to come from? At least if we invest in alternative energy now we will be able to use it potentially forever because it is a nonrenewable resource

    eric swenson (dc0a02)

  31. WLS, let me be clear: I don’t know enough about the economics of the industry, or how much money could be raised (after operating costs) by selling power from wind and other renewable energy sources. It’s possible that the money could pay off the costs of a bond; it’s possible that it couldn’t.

    But if I were looking for a way to fund such a program, that’s how I would start: a bond issue to raise money today, with the revenue stream from the sale of such energy dedicated to paying it off.


    DRJ, I believe I read something about that in Friday’s Economist. That said, the existence of market-driven entrepeneurs doesn’t mean the government shouldn’t help them along; many of the great infrastructure projects (eg, canals, and railroads) in our nation’s history have been funded by private entities with substantial government support.

    I’d have to know more about the details of this industry to judge if it were a good candidate for such support; but I don’t think such support would per se be illegitimate, bad policy, or inconsistent with historical practice.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  32. We are going to have to spend several trillion dollars if we continue to rely on oil> Where is that money going to come from?

    The same place it “comes from” now. You see, the people who provide oil (all along the supply chain, from the well to the pump at the gas station), earn a salary that is paid by what you pay for gas. Those people then go out and spend their salary. Some of the money they spend ends up going to the goods or services you provide.

    Wealth spent on fuel doesn’t get burnt up along with the fuel; it just moves from one owner to another — and it doesn’t stop with the fuel provider. Obviously the fuel is consumed, but it has no value except for being consumed.

    At least if we invest in alternative energy now we will be able to use it potentially forever because it is a nonrenewable resource

    (Clearly you mean “renewable”.)

    What “alternative energy” would that be? Biofuels compete with food production, and already we’re seeing poorer areas of the world having problems because of the amount of grain going into them. The US (at least) is just about at its maximum capacity for hydro. Solar and wind are too diffuse and unreliable. Nuclear’s simply unacceptable to most of the people saying we can’t burn fossil fuels anymore.

    So what “alternatives” are there? It’s not enough to say “we must use them”; the alternatives just don’t exist at the moment.

    Rob Crawford (6c262f)

  33. eric swenson, you don’t seem to understand the basic economic reality of “alternative” energy. Nor the issues of scale that doom most of Al Gore’s fantasy.

    Plus the idea that wind power substitutes for fossil fuel is a myth, wind generators have to be backed up by natural gas generation – the most expensive way to make electricity there is. This is because when the wind isn’t blowing hard enough, you have to find that power elsewhere, and coal fired plants don’t spin up fast enough to replace wind. Natural gas does.

    Why do you think T.Boone Pickens is pushing wind generation? How much natural gas do you think he has?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  34. psst, the sun don’t shine at night, and the wind don’t always blow.

    Hazy (c36902)

  35. Not only should we increase drilling, we should go back to using whale oil just to infuriate the enviros. Afterall, whales are a renewable resource.

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  36. Jose, what’s your source for the claim that photovoltaic cells would cost $15 trillion dollars? Or the rest of your numbers?

    And why should we use photovoltaic cells at all? There’s been some interesting work done recently on using mirrors to focus solar energy to generate steam, driving a turbine just like most of the other ways we generate electricity. That technology, if implementable on a moderate scale, would render photovoltaic cells an anachronism.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  37. There’s been some interesting work done recently on using mirrors to focus solar energy to generate steam

    Good thing we don’t use energy after the sun goes down, then isn’t it?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  38. There’s always wave power also. I recall reading about some uses of geography and waves for alternative energy way back in the fifties as a kid in Vegas. Sin City was maybe 50k people then and you’d think that they would have come up with a way to harness all that sun power.

    One engineering idea was hydroelectric dams running water from the Mediterreanean Sea down into the Quatar depression (spelling?) in Libya, I believe. Another was a complicated looking pipe apparatus that harnessed wave power striking shore and converting it to electricity. But I digress, we should just kick everything down the road and cinch our belts because mr nobel peace prize goracle knows what is best for REST of us. Hey, Denver why not DRAFT his Fatness as potus nominee?

    madmax333 (c94370)

  39. Al is very much like Obama. They have others tell them what to say and lay claim to their statements. On a more serious matter, It’s clear that Al is trying to take credit for T. Boone Pickens’ energy plan just as he tried to take credit for inventing the internet. The difference with Pickens is T. Boone has the plan and the strategy to fund.

    Phil Meadows (299faa)

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