After Another Clean Energy Bankruptcy, Obama Opts for Volcano Energy

by David Bier on January 27, 2012

in Blog

Bier family members—Dan and Jerry—blogged notable responses to Obama’s State of the Union energy policy recommendations this week. Over at Speak With Authority, Jerry (my uncle) points out that while the president mentioned “renewable” and “clean” energy, the president was light on details like the Department of Energy’s proposed volcano energy project in Oregon. Jerry writes, “Of all the recent ideas for developing new sources of energy, this volcano project is the one that sounds most like some junior high school boys pouring all the chemicals in the science lab into one beaker just to ‘see what will happen.’”

So when the Drudge Report recently linked to a story outlining plans to try to harness heat generated by the inactive Newberry volcano in Oregon to produce power, the most remarkable thing about the story is what it has not generated, that being media attention.  A Google news search for “Newberry volcano” as of January 25th generated only 188 hits.  Contrast this with “Keystone pipeline” which generates 7,720 hits or “hydraulic fracturing” which returns 2,420 hits.  According to USA Today, the Department of Energy has put $21.5 million into the project, and a peer review on the DOE website dates all the way back to May 2010, so it is not as though this project is a secret.  And yet “Newberry” was not among those 700 words the president used to highlight his administration’s most exciting developments in energy in the year’s most prominent address to the American people.  What gives?…

The answer is found in the first two words of the third paragraph of the story: “Renewable energy”.  The same phenomenon leads environmentalists to disregard the noise pollution and bird/bat deaths from windmills and the toxic chemicals that are by-products of solar panel manufacturing.  Unlike any energy production related to fossil fuels, the “renewables” get a pass on possible or even actual collateral damage.  But “hydraulic fracturing”, which uses a process similar to the one employed in the volcano research but is used to extract natural gas and oil from rocks deep below the surface of the earth, has already suffered some setbacks due to fear of earthquakes.  It is said that when the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883 the sound was heard 3,000 miles away.  Is it not safe to say that if some oil company were planning a test to extract petroleum from under a volcano, a similar explosion would be heard from the environmentalists?

Renewable energy shenanigans has already gotten the president into trouble with Solyndra, but that hasn’t slowed his willingness to promote his administration’s “investments.” Over at The Skeptical Libertarian, Dan Bier (my brother) points out that an energy firm that received a shout-out in Obama’s address Tuesday went bankrupt less than two days later:

President Obama is used to wiping egg off his face when it comes to bad energy investments. That’s why you’d think if he was going to reference a specific energy company in a big speech, his staff would have at least made a phone call to see if it was about to go bankrupt…. But at the beginning of his section on clean energy, Obama said, “In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries,” a clear reference to a $118 million stimulus grant to develop electric-car batteries given to EnerDel, a subsidiary of Ener1. On ThursdayEner1 filed for bankruptcy, seeking Chapter 11 protection.

As Dan points out, “This actually isn’t the first time President Obama has bragged in a major speech about a successful ‘clean energy investment’ in a corporation that soon went under. In his 2010 State of the Union, the President took credit for creating a thousand jobs at the now-defunct solar panel maker Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, pushed through by the White House.” From volcanoes to bankruptcies, one can only speculate what other surprises Obama’s administration has in store.

Gary-bg January 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Sure let us empty all the aquifers to make steam…wait water vapor is a green house gas ….next

david January 29, 2012 at 1:04 am

Let’s just get rid of obama while we still have the energy to do it.How clueless and foolish do you have to be to vote for this loser in Nov?

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