To the editor:
Gerald Mikkelson’s energy prescriptions are blatantly unrealistic (Public Forum, March 14). The first problem he misses is that change is difficult and requires thoughtful transition implementation. There is no politically or economically feasible way to transition to lowered carbon utopia of hydro-, solar- and wind-powered energy production. It is more likely leprechauns descended from Quantrill will pedal human-powered turbines 24/7 in atonement for their historical transgression than Kansas’ economy can adopt his proposals.
Second, because technology exists does not mean technology is sufficient or cost-effective for economic needs. For example, wind power technology has unresolved shortcomings such as dependence on foreign-sourced neodymium rare earth in generator magnets; it poses hazards to avian wildlife, creates acoustic pollution, and insufficient energy storage capacity exists to meet demands when the wind blows gently or not at all.
The carbon in Canadian shale oil will be released into earth’s biosphere whether the pipeline crosses Kansas or not. The real effect of the no-pipeline policy is to forgo any of the benefits of the exploitation of the Canadian oil shale while still suffering the atmospheric carbon release from the eventual consumption of the oil.
Finally, shutting down useful energy generation capacity at Wolf Creek because it is aging is ludicrous. We’re all aging. Every element of our energy infrastructure is aging, including the sun. Should we shut it all down and drink a collective cup of hemlock as Mikkelson’s criterion suggests? Of course not! To take his delusional approach would create self-inflicted economic dislocations that would make the Dust Bowl era seem like good times.