Firing Up or Powering Down?

By February 16, 2010Energy, Global Warming

The Sacramento Bee profiles the new executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, who comes on board the country’s largest environmental organization on March 15. Citing Brune’s prior leadership at the radical, fond-of-disruption Rain Forest Action Network, the Bee’s story is headlined, “New leader looks to fire up Sierra Club.”

By powering down the United States.

At the heart of that struggle, Brune says, lies America’s continued dependence on coal-fired electricity plants – plants which currently provide an estimated 45 percent of the nation’s energy but which are a major sources of greenhouse gas emissions…[snip]

“We must replace dirty coal in this country,” Brune said. “We must continue this fight until we convince our political and industry leaders that there are more economic benefits to be had by transitioning to wind power and other forms of clean energy.”

It’s fantasy to argue that “wind power and other forms of clean energy” can supplant coal, especially when Brune — as reported in this profile — opposes nuclear power.

Here’s what the Energy Information Administration had to say in its annual energy outlook about coal’s future role in the U.S. economy through 2035:

Total coal consumption increases from 22.4 quadrillion Btu (1,122 million short tons) in 2008 to 25.6 quadrillion Btu (1,319 million short tons) in 2035 in the AEO2010 reference case. Coal consumption, mostly for electric power generation, grows gradually throughout the projection period, as existing plants are used more intensively, and new plants, which are already under construction, are completed and enter service.

Brune’s leadership involves getting arrested in flashy protest actions with the usual suspects like Darryl Hannah and James Hansen.

Funny, too, that Brune rises to power advocating extreme action even as the anti-energy climate activists are in retreat scientifically and politically. When even The Washington Post has to acknowledge the seriously flawed “evidence”* being used to push a global economic restructuring — page one Monday, “Series of missteps by climate scientists threatens climate-change agenda” — then the movement is losing steam. Can a radical program of civil disobedience fire up the more mainstream Sierra Club or just cost it members?

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