In his attack on support for alternate energy Sununu regales the reader with a list of programs that he says failed, ranging from support for natural gas, to high mileage vehicles, to carbon sequestration, though he also manages to bring in Evergreen Solar. Sununu keeps talking: all the projects he describes cost lots of money, a terrible waste, because all the time good old fashioned energy was still there! What’s more, all the alternatives, Sununu predicts will continue to cost more: “Ten years from now, I very much doubt that we’ll be driving cars with high-compression diesel engines, or powered by cellulosic ethanol, hydrogen, or electricity from carbon-free coal.”
In citing carbon free coal Sununu manages to cherry pick from some of the least likely alternative energy sources of the future, but what is interesting is that he does not appear to have any problem with regular chock-full-of carbon coal. In Sununu energy math, costs only exist as upfront energy-production costs, not as the costs of environmental degradation and damage. With this math coal is cheap because the price does not include the cost of arsenic in water, elevated deaths from cancer, or mountain-top removal. (Dr. Paul Epstein, in contrast, estimates the cost of these coal impacts at half a trillion dollars a year. See: http://www.reuters.com/article… Sununu energy math apparently never means having to think about what it costs to use something.)
At core Sununu energy math is not only illogical but unethical because the former Senator never mentions the greatest cost of continuing to use traditional energy: accelerating global warming. Ignoring the this cost of using coal and oil would be much like calculating the cost of a lighter employed to burn down a forest without including the cost of the forest. We start a fire so that we can drive, fly, and use electronic gadgets and gear at the cheapest possible cost now while ignoring the destruction we cause by refusing to shift to alternatives with slightly higher up-front costs. It’s not really surprising that Sununu refuses to even mention this cost because as Senator he helped to pioneer the ‘I just don’t know’ approach suitable for Republicans in New England who want to pretend to be moderates but don’t want to anger their base. Thus in 2007 he told the Concord Monitor he needed to see more research to determine to what extend human activity caused global warming.( http://www.concordmonitor.com/… That’s the same basic approach adopted by Charlie ‘just not smart enough’ Baker and by the People’s Senator Scott Brown.
An ethical conservative position on climate change would require recognizing the dire nature of the threat and suggesting a sufficient response. If Sununu does not want the government to fund specific forms of alternate energy he could advocate a cap and trade system or a carbon tax that would then leave it up to the market to determine the most cost effective forms of clean energy. In the past Sununu has at least at times supported cap-and-trade but that Republican idea has apparently became such anathema to the base that it is unmentionable-what’s left is nothing, a truly illogical and unethical stance.