NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 5, 2007

Every week brings new claims that clean, free, inexhaustible renewable energy will soon replace the "dirty" fuels that sustain our economy today.  A healthy dose of reality is needed, says Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

For instance, despite recent clamoring, wind power is just not sustainable, says Innis:

  • Wind farms require subsidies and vast stretches of land; to meet New York City's electricity needs alone would require blanketing the entire state of Connecticut with towering turbines.
  • Additionally, the turbines kill birds and must be backed up by expensive coal or gas power plants that mostly sit idle (until they kick in whenever the wind dies down, so factories, schools, offices and homes don't shut down).

Further, the main U.S. electricity source, coal, is not nearly as polluting as it was 30 years ago:

  • Since 1998, annual sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have declined 28 percent and 43 percent at coal plants respectively -- and new rules will eliminate most remaining emissions by 2015.
  • Coal-fired power plants are now the primary source of U.S. mercury emissions only because the major sources (incinerating wastes and processing ores containing mercury) have been eliminated.
  • U.S. mercury emissions are now down 82 percent since the early 1980s; America accounts for only 2 percent of all global mercury emissions.

Overall, we cannot replace 52 percent of our electricity (the coal-based portion) with technologies that currently provide only 1 percent of that power (mainly wind), says Innis. Wind is a supplement, not an alternative.

Source: Roy Innis, "The Truth About Alternative Energy,", December 5, 2007.


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