Vail Daily’s Don Rogers: Great hope for energy
Vail, CO, Colorado
Former Secretary of State George Schultz took a chair on the Vilar stage to make his opening remarks.
No one was going to tell him no. At 91, he’s still always the brightest one in the room, even among the intellectual wattage that gathered last weekend for the Vail Global Energy Forum.
He was plainspoken, even blunt. Too many in his party, he regretted to say, still believe global warming is some kind of hoax. “They are wrong.”
“When Republicans call out clearly for a carbon tax, and Democrats understand fracking as the power innovation that it is, you know we’ve got a chance after all,” he said.
He followed Gov. John Hickenlooper, first geologist to be elected a state governor, who acknowledged the viability of fracking and insisted that government can be pro-energy and regulate production effectively for the sake of the environment.
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The whole conference struck an optimistic tone, something speakers acknowledged would not have been the case a few years ago.
Fracking technology and horizontal drilling, pioneered by a wildcatter from Texas, has exploded the known U.S. reserves of natural gas in particular to what Shultz called the cusp of a revolution in energy.
Imagine what it means if the United States kicks that addiction to foreign oil. “Revolution” is not too strong a word for the worldwide implications of that. Suddenly, this is no idle dream, no crystal ball gazing deep into a Star Trekie future. It’s tomorrow.
Add to this the beehive of innovation in renewable energy and gains in efficiency. There’s a lot of reason for hope here, notwithstanding the high cost of filling the tank today.
Admittedly, I let myself get carried away listening to the politicians, business titans and academics talk about the future of energy.
Energy at root is a practical challenge, and the solutions to the problems of energy are practical. Ideology ultimately can only get in the way.
So maybe the practical effects of solving energy challenges will influence our politics for the better.
Now I’m really dreaming, I know.
But if a Reagan Republican can seriously promote a proper carbon tax and a Democratic governor can extoll the benefits of fracking and understand the need for fossil fuels, there indeed is hope for our political future, as well as our energy.
Each of these looks like it’s at bottom now, counting by the price of gas and the GOP presidential field.
But I’m thinking that looks can be deceiving. At least, I hope so.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2920.