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Commentary: Need for Alternative Power Sources

By Joe DeMare

Buffalo, NY – A few weeks ago, it felt like our country was in the middle of a bad "Saturday Night Live" sketch as newscasters told us over and over again that Saddam's two sons were still dead. If you're like me, you start to wonder what's really going on. What important issue or happening is being obscured by such yammering repetition. Well, I found out and the answer is chilling.

President Bush's energy plan is quite simply the worst piece of public policy ever penned by any administration. It would create thousands of new nuclear power plants, almost literally one in every town. These new plants would not have any kind of containment safety structure, inviting terrorist attacks that could release deadly radioactive pollution, rendering entire cities uninhabitable forever. The worst radioactive pollutant, plutonium, is so deadly that only five grams (the same mass as in a nickle) can kill 20 million people outright. It stays deadly for 20,000 years.

In addition, Bush's plan would create tens of thousands of new coal and gas power plants. Even as the world's glaciers and the poles melt, even as the globe's temperature rises and storms grow stronger and more frequent, even as heat waves kill thousands more people every year, Bush's energy plan would vastly increase the amount of CO2 in the air, accellerating the greenhouse effect perhaps past the point where it can be stopped.

I install windmills and solar panels for a living. Every time I put up a windmill and see its blades spinning, I remember that there is enough energy in the wind to meet ALL our country's electricity needs. With enough windmills, we could shut down all the nuke plants and all the coal plants and still have enough electricity to watch as many episodes of "Survivor" as we can stomach.

Anyway, while public commentators debated which shade of lipstick army morticians should use on Saddam's sons, the Senate was locked in a different debate. A few democrats actually found the courage to stand up on this issue and opposed Bush's plan. Of course, in the end, only 14 senators stood firm. Happily both our Senators Clinton and Schumer were among them. New York can be proud of that. The rest agreed to send a compromise bill back to committee where Republican Senator Domenici has promised to put all the worst aspects of Bush's plan back in.

In poll after poll, Americans of all stripes, conservative and liberal, left, right, and center, say that they want this country to be more energy independent--to make full use of our renewable resources such as the wind and sun, so that we are not forced to fight endless overseas wars to secure our energy supply. In no other issue does Bush so clearly show himself to be in the employ of the big energy companies and working against the welfare of the American people. His plan would doom our descendents to cancer, pollution, and climate change just so his campaign contributors can make a few billion more in profit for a few more years.

It is not enough to stop his bad (and some might say EVIL) plan. We need to apply a sane energy policy that will meet our needs with an endless supply of clean energy. I have seen personally that wind and solar power work. Bush's energy plan wouldn't.

Listener-Commentator Joe DeMare has studied wind power as an alternative energy source and started his own company, Alternative Energy Corporation.