Government: The Biggest Obstacle to Affordable Energy

Government: The Biggest Obstacle to Affordable Energy

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

?????????? I first learned about climate change 50 years ago, while in third grade at Richmond Avenue School in Atlantic City.?? The school was still heated with coal, and the delivery trucks often spilled chunks of it in the schoolyard while making deliveries.

??? My friends and I were fascinated by the outlines of exotic looking tropical plants contained in each lump of coal.?? Our third grade teacher explained that the coal was formed from trees and other plants that grew in Pennsylvania some 300 million years ago.?? She told us that most of Pennsylvania back then was a tropical swamp, and that most of New Jersey was then covered by the ocean.

??? Three years later in sixth grade, I did my science report on climate change.?? After reading a lot of books, I wrote that something made the earth get colder about 40 million years ago, and that as recently as 20,000 years ago, much of New Jersey was covered with giant ice sheets hundreds of feet thick.?? These ice sheets had ground up the rocks underneath to create the beautiful sand on our Jersey beaches today.?? But then, the earth got warmer, the ice melted, and the ocean rose and covered more of the earth.?? I distinctly remember writing in 1961 that the earth was still getting warmer,? and that the oceans were still rising.

??? What caused the earth to get warmer 20,000 years ago??? It sure wasn’t Neanderthal men driving around in gas guzzling SUV’s and using plastic shopping bags!

??? There are many unanswered questions about climate change.? Why did Baghdad just get its first snow, and why did most of the world have record cold temperatures last winter??? And if the world is getting warmer, what “correct” temperature should it be??? When dinosaurs lived??? When woolly mammoths lived??? Or when Elvis Presley lived?

??? Every day, we and most plants and animals deal with temperatures that change by some 20 to 30 degrees between day and night.?? Does it make sense to freeze in cold, damp, houses, become subsistance farmers, eliminate most travel, and make America primitive and weak – just so we can shave one or two degrees off the average temperature over the next 100 years?

??? But forget climate change.?? We should use less oil.? We should not be paying gobs of money to our enemies in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.?? But we can do that without giving up our freedom with big tax hikes and government programs.

??? Our main fuel was wood 200 years ago.?? When trees got scarce, Americans quickly switched to coal.?? And when digging deep for coal got too dangerous and expensive, we quickly switched to oil.???

??? Any bicycle mechanic can design and build a cheap and efficient windmill.?? But nothing is cheap when the government does it.

??? The five windmills and 2,800 solar panels built for a government agency on free, tax-exempt land in Atlantic City cost $16.4 million.?? The construction costs alone come to about 6.7 cents per kilowatt hour, slightly less than the 8.6 cents per kwh we now pay Atlantic City Electric.?? But how much does it cost to inspect, clean, paint, oil, fix, and replace all that equipment??? Nobody talks about those figures.?? And how much more will it cost to build and maintain windmills on artificial islands 20 miles out at sea?

??? Why not adopt simple, statewide license and permit laws to let private citizens build thousands of cheap windmills on their own farm and meadowlands??? Why put up with ridiculously expensive regulations, and big hidden charges added to our electric bills, so that only a handful of political insiders build a few very expensive projects that produce very little energy?

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