Renewable Energy—Politics and Energy

Renewable Energy—Politics and Energy

By Dan Slattery, Alternative Energy Activist

I listened with great interest to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s State of the State speech on March 12, especially considering his proposals on energy and technology, on which I had mixed views.

First, I think his support for nanotechnology is impressive. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the manipulation of matter on a molecular level. For instance, the example that comes to mind is that they can make an electrical motor the size of a molecule.

The implications for the health care industry alone are staggering, not to mention other forms of technology.

The entrepreneurial centers he proposed are also very encouraging, especially here in Rockford, at Rock Valley College, as well as the business grants.

But he also spoke of not cutting corners. He talked about investing in “clean coal” technology. And I thought I was beating a dead horse. You can clean up the emissions from a coal-fired power plant to a great degree these days (assuming the owners are willing to make the investments), but you can’t change the fact that there will still be some air pollution.

And even though it is said that Illinois is the second-richest coal state, you can’t change the fact that coal is still a fossil fuel, a finite resource.

It’s high time we started thinking about our children, grandchildren, and their children. President Bush allocated $2.1 billion toward research and development of renewable energy.

The development of hydrogen production/delivery infrastructures as well as solar, wind, biomass and other renewables should be the legacy we leave behind for future generations.

Why isn’t Blagojevich focusing on these things instead of coal? Putting unemployed coal workers in southern Illinois back to work?

In a dying industry?

Many of us have had to switch careers in mid-life. This almost always involves retraining. I do not for a minute believe the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Take these out-of-work coal miners and teach them how to install wind generators, solar panels and the like.

Nothing against Governor Blagojevich, but I just have to wonder how far into our future he is looking.

Dan Slattery is a member of the following organizations: the American Solar Energy Society, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the Illinois Solar Energy Association, and the Illinois Coalition Against Unfair Utilities.

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