Gore skeptical of 'clean coal' in Dominican address
10, 2009 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Rob Rogers - The Marin Independent
JournalFormer Vice President Al Gore voiced support Monday for the Obama
Administration's plan to build a "supergrid" that could carry the electricity
generated by solar, wind and other renewable resources from remote parts of the
nation to America's cities.
But Gore, who drew an audience of more
than 1,000 to San Rafael's Dominican University, remained skeptical of the "clean
coal" technology the president has championed. The administration has spent $3.4
billion of stimulus funds on tests of the technology, which would capture the
carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired power plants and drive it deep underground.
"I hope that it works," Gore said. "But it bears the burden
of implausibility. If you're the manager of a large coal plant, your business
plan is to sell electricity. If you put carbon-capture sequestration technology
there, it will take one third of the electricity you were selling. That's going
to make your business plan go haywire, and there's a limit to how much taxpayers
are going to want to pick up the tab."
Gore, whose work to
raise awareness about global climate change earned him a share of the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2007 -- as well as an Academy Award in the same year for his film, "An
Inconvenient Truth" -- returned to the issue for a discussion of his latest book,
"Our Choice: A Plan To Solve The Climate Crisis."
of sorts to "An Inconvenient Truth," the book follows more than 30 "solution summits"
Gore convened with scientists and environmental leaders worldwide to address the
problems associated with climate change, including melting ice caps, more powerful
storms, mass extinctions of plants and animals and loss of food production.
solution is sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, sustainable forests and
a higher level of efficiency throughout the world's civilization," said Gore,
to sustained applause from the audience at Dominican's Angelico Hall.
love Marin County," the former presidential candidate said, adding that if the
rest of the nation followed Marin's example, "I would have just completed my second
term as president."
Yet Gore called upon his supporters to
do more, saying that changes to their lifestyles were not enough.
you want to be part of the solution, it's important that you do more than change
your light bulb," Gore said. "You have to be active in the democratic process."
Gore argued that widespread support for wind, solar and geothermal
power would cause the cost of those technologies to drop, reducing U.S. dependence
on foreign oil and helping to energize the domestic economy. He added that a change
in the nation's energy supply had to be coupled with changes in demand and in
the distribution of electricity.
"The electric car is the
future of our auto fleet, but we need to develop that electric car while simultaneously
developing renewable sources of power and a 'supergrid' to get that power where
it's needed," Gore said.
To make those changes, however, Gore
argued that Americans would have to overcome the political influence wielded by
large polluters. He blamed the decline of newspaper readership and the rising
cost of political campaigns, driven by the need for television advertising, for
sapping both major parties of the will to take on environmental issues.
will be asked by future generations, 'How did you rise to the occasion and solve
this crisis?'" Gore said. "And we have to give our answer in deeds, not words.
We have everything we need, except possibly the political will."
currently the chairman of the satellite television news network Current TV and
a senior advisor to Google, spoke for nearly an hour Monday night, peppering his
discussion of the sobering state of the global climate with frequent jokes. Gore
did not take questions at the end of his presentation, choosing instead to sign
books for the hundreds who lined up outside the auditorium.
was absolutely flabbergasted. He was so full of energy, feeling and passion,"
said Robb Miller of San Rafael, who said he was impressed by Gore's speech and
surprised by his skepticism about the future of nuclear energy.
Leon of San Rafael said Gore's speech led her to wonder about what might have
"It would be interesting to know what it would have
been like if he was president for eight years, if he would have been able to do
what he is doing now, or if he would have been derailed," Leon said.
more San Rafael stories at the IJ's San Rafael section.
Rob Rogers via e-mail at email@example.com