S. David Freeman, one of the most damaging energy policy makers of the 20th century is trying to make a comeback. For those of you who are not energy geeks, S. David Freeman served on the predecessor to the FERC under President Kennedy and worked on energy policies for both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter appointed him to lead the Tennessee Valley Authority where he halted nuclear plant development in mid stream and where he was an active opponent of breeder reactor research and development.
After leaving TVA, he went to work for Sacramento Municipal Power District (SMUD) where he led the effort to shut down Rancho Seco and vastly increased the utility’s dependence on natural gas, which now supplies more than 60% of the power for its service territory. (Note: SMUD talks a great game and sells its customers on the idea that it is green, but here is its ACTUAL power mix from 2007 – 8% waste and biomass, 4% geothermal, 2% small hydroelectric, <1% solar, 2% wind, 4% coal, 20% large hydroelectric, 60% gas, less than 1% nuclear. The link provided shows some special content labels that cost extra money, but as a guy who used to operate a tiny grid, I wonder how they label and direct the “green” electrons to the right customers.)
S. David Freeman has written several books that remind me very much of the works of one of my other least favorite energy commentators, Amory Lovins. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he claims that we can fight global warming, prevent the construction of new coal fired power plants, and increase our energy dependence by halting all nuclear power development and shutting down our existing plants. His cure all energy sources are wind and solar and – oh yeah, a bit of natural gas to bridge the gap while we are building all of those wind farms and paving over major sections of desert land with solar collectors and power lines.
On June 11, 2008, he spoke at the Carter Center in Atlanta about his new book Winning Our Energy Independence. The talk was sponsored by Atlanta Women’s Action for New Directions and Nuclear Watch South. Politicalaffairs.net (Marxist Thought Online) published a summary of the talk dated June 21, 2008 titled Former Carter Appointee Warns Against Nuclear Power, Coal, Foreign Oil. Here is the introductory paragraph of the summary:
Several dozen people arrived at The Carter Center Wednesday night, June 11, 2008, to listen to award-winning energy expert and environmentalist S. David Freeman, whose new book sheds light on America’s deadly addiction to “three poisons”: foreign oil, coal, and nuclear power.
The speech touched on a few topics where S. David Freeman and I agree on the diagnosis – he is worried about global warming caused by emitting carbon faster than the earth’s natural processes can absorb it, about the massive flow of money out of the US to pay for imported oil, about the tragedy that we are engaging in battles over natural resources, and about the danger that we may be entering into an economic depression. His prescription, however, demonstrates that he has learned little about the technical world in the more than 60 years since he earned a civil engineering degree.
But Freeman, who is a strong proponent of solar and wind power, said the technology is out there if only there was enough will to harness it.
“The bright side of it is, there is the technology that if we embraced it today… we could 30 years from now have an all-renewable, high-energy civilization that was truly sustainable,” he said.
Freeman scolded “mealy-mouthed” members of US Congress who refuse to introduce legislation outlawing the production of coal and nuclear plants and imposing shorter timelines for reaching energy independence.
He also attributed the lack of progress to the fractured environmental movement, which he said is split into three groups: those who focus exclusively on carbon emissions, those who focus on getting away from fossil fuels, and those who are anti-nuclear power.
I dare anyone to try to run the numbers for a reliable electrical power system that does not include coal and nuclear – which together supply more than 70% of the electrical power in the US. Can anyone explain why this man has received so many appointments to high public office?