Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Opinion | Transitioning From Fossil Fuels

To the Editor:

Re “After Debate, Climate Takes Center Stage” (front page, Oct. 24):

Republicans feign shock that Democrats have plans to transition our economy away from fossil fuels. Scientists have been warning us for years that carbon pollution from burning coal, oil and gas is causing worldwide death and destruction.

The heat-trapping emissions increase Earth’s temperature, which melts polar ice, expands seawater and floods coastal communities. Hotter temperatures turn forests into kindling for wildfires and make extreme weather events more frequent and intense.

Of course, these are the same leaders who have rejected the guidance of science in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, with calamitous consequences. Their main contention, that a transition to clean energy will be an economic disaster, is duplicitous.

About a dozen carbon pricing bills before Congress, some with Republican support, offer policy options that drastically reduce emissions while creating jobs, spurring investments in renewables, supporting families and incentivizing other nations, including China and India, to adopt similar policies.

Bob Taylor
Newport Beach, Calif.

To the Editor:

In “Biden’s Vow Hardly Stirs Oil Industry” (Business Day, Oct. 24), George Stark of Cabot Oil and Gas says of natural gas: “We complement wind and solar. You need something that can run on an ongoing basis.”

While we may need thermal power plants to fill in when wind and solar output drops, those plants don’t need to use fossil fuels. Low-cost wind and solar power can be used to make clean synthetic fuels such as hydrogen to replace natural gas. This is already happening in Europe. In the United States, Mitsubishi is replacing a huge coal plant in Utah with a gas plant that will run on renewable hydrogen when the renewables can’t meet demand.

Oregon is considering legislation to achieve 100 percent renewable power by 2030 for days or weeks when the wind is calm and the sun is low by enabling production of renewable hydrogen. The cost of making small amounts of “fill in” fuel is quite manageable.

Kris Nelson
Portland, Ore.
The writer is chair of the Oregon Policy Committee of the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance.

To the Editor:

Employees of the oil industry should consider Joe Biden’s remarks in the context of history. Calligraphers who did not adjust to Gutenberg’s movable type, livery stable owners who continued hauling hay rather than studying auto engine repair, and punch card operators who did not accept computers all lost employment. They subscribed to the status quo and were supported by business interests that resisted change.

Oil platform workers should advocate removing drilling equipment and replacing it with wind turbines, clearly a huge growth industry that will be in need of workers. Refinery workers should learn solar power installation jobs and leave the oil extraction industry, whose long-term future is no better than coal mining.

Walter Zadan
Williamsburg, Va.

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