Should the US Immediately Phase out Fossil Fuels?



PRO (yes)

Hermann Scheer, PhD, Founding President of the European Association for Renewable Energies (EUROSOLAR), stated the following in his 2009 article "A Global Champion for the Massive Proliferation of Renewable Energy: The International Renewable Energy Agency," published in 100 Per Cent Renewable – Energy Autonomy in Action:

"Civilisation stands at a critical decision point. The global community can continue down the path to self-annihilation by wasting trillions of precious funds in oil drilling, shale, tar sand and frozen methane production, and pursuing hopeless nuclear fission and fusion research. Or it can end the madness of a bygone era and focus its remaining resources on a strategy of survival and prosperity by building an efficient, equitable and sustainable power infrastructure based on renewable energy...

Every thinking person understands that oil, gas, coal and uranium reserves are finite: but not everyone yet understands that production capacity is very likely to be already declining today - while demand continues to soar. This inexorably results in spiralling energy prices, supply shortages in many national economies and social problems for an increasing number of countries and their citizens... The call for 100% renewable energy is essential...

The ecosphere's capacity to mitigate damages has already been breached. The switch to renewable energies has to occur now - long before fossil fuels are depleted. The window of effective action may be as small as ten years, perhaps less. We are in a race against time."

2009 - Hermann Scheer, PhD 



Rainforest Action Network, an environmental non-profit organization, stated the following in a fact sheet on its website titled "Greening the Grid," available at www.ran.org (accessed Mar. 20, 2009):

"We must phase out polluting energy sources that destroy people and the planet. The question is no longer if we should transition to renewable energy, but when. To prevent greater harm to communities and ecosystems and avert catastrophic climate change, we need to start this transition today... Wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and small-scale hydroelectricity are clean, renewable sources of energy and are among the world's fastest growing technologies. With the potential to decentralize energy production, renewable energies offer communities the chance to reclaim self-sufficiency and rebuild localized economies while providing cheaper, cleaner energy solutions...

Coal, nuclear and other fossil-fuel power plants are outdated, dangerous and unnecessary sources of energy. We can end our dependence on fossil fuels, curb climate change, protect our environment, and build healthier economies and communities by switching to clean, proven renewable energy options. It's time to get out from under the thumb of corporations whose only concern is economic self-interest. It's time to start an energy revolution by greening the grid."

Mar. 20, 2009 - Rainforest Action Network 



Al Gore, Jr., former Vice President of the US and Chairman of the Board at the Alliance for Climate Protection, stated the following in his July 17, 2008 speech "Generational Challenge to Repower America," available at www.npr.org:

"Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years...

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge. But here's what's changed: the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power - coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal - have radically changed the economics of energy...

Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies...

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge - for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It's time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now."

July 17, 2008 - Al Gore, Jr. 



Donald W. Aitken, PhD, Sustainable Development Consultant and Senior Consulting Scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and Rian van Staden, Renewable Energy Consultant for Intelligent Renewable Energy and Former Executive Director of The International Solar Energy Society (ISES), stated the following in their 2005 article "The Renewable Energy Transition," available at the Solar Catalyst website:

"Continual postponement of a serious worldwide initiation of the renewable energy transition is a precarious gamble, potentially jeopardizing our ability to launch it at all as the clock to accomplish it in economically attractive ways winds down. Further stalling the renewable energy transition also gambles the world's security and stability, as present centralized energy systems become vulnerable terrorist targets, and dependence on economically critical resources from politically unstable areas of the world continues to increase.

There is enormous momentum now being generated worldwide in renewable energy applications and policies, to underscore that the ingredients are now in place for the renewable energy transition to begin...

A worldwide effort to generate the renewable energy transition must emerge at the top of both national and international political agendas, starting now."

2005 - Donald W. Aitken, PhD 
Rian van Staden 



CON (no)

Thomas J. Pyle, President of the Institute for Energy Research, stated the following in an Apr. 10, 2009 email to ProCon.org:

"If the world in which we lived were one where alternative energy sources were reliable, constant and even marginally cost-competitive, the question posed above would take on the status of a non sequitur. After all, if alternative energy could survive without taxpayer subsidization, it wouldn't be an 'alternative' energy at all. But it can't, and so it is. And there's a good reason for it.

Here are the facts: eighty-five percent of the energy Americans use today to heat their homes, light their lives, and get from here to there come from so-called fossil fuels – power derived from oil, natural gas, and coal. In the space that remains, nuclear energy accounts for almost nine percent of total U.S. energy. Biomass and hydroelectricity claim almost all that's left. Wind and solar, where art thou? Combined, these two dynamos account for less than one percent of our energy - despite decades of hefty government subsidies spent trying to create them...

So, when you add it all up, the question really boils down to this: Should we immediately phase out ninety-seven percent of the energy we need to survive and prosper, cross our fingers and hope that the most expensive, unreliable, but politically preferred sources of energy will make up the difference?

Sure, why not? As long as we're all willing to sacrifice our jobs, devastate our economy, surrender the nation's place in the world, and cash in the quality of life that abundant, affordable energy has provided for us all – in return for little or no environmental benefit – then yeah, let's do it."

Apr. 10, 2009 - Thomas J. Pyle 



Ali I. Al-Naimi, MS, Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, stated the following in his Feb. 10, 2009 speech, "Achieving Energy Stability in Uncertain Times," available at the Saudi Embassy website:

"Scale is critical in our massive global energy system. The existing oil delivery system is highly efficient and economical, and the cost of rapidly replacing it with alternatives would be prohibitive. A prudent approach demands that we recognize that the massive scale of the global energy system makes rapid change costly and impractical...

While the push for alternatives is important, we must also be mindful that efforts to rapidly promote alternatives could have a 'chilling effect' on investment in the oil sector. Growing demand uncertainty increases producers' perceptions of investment risk. A nightmare scenario would be created if alternative energy supplies fail to meet overly optimistic expectations, while traditional energy suppliers scale back investment due to expectations of declining demand for their products. The prospects of supply constraints would grow along with the potential for higher energy prices and lower economic growth.

Meeting the needs of a growing global population and the aspirations of billions of people in developing countries for greater prosperity, will require an 'all of the above' energy strategy. All BTUs are welcome and needed - whether they come from renewable energy, nuclear power or fossil fuels."

Feb. 10, 2009 - Ali I. Al-Naimi, MS 



John D. Hofmeister, MA, Founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy and former President of the Shell Oil Company, stated the following in the Feb. 14, 2008 report "A National Dialogue on Energy Security: The Shell Final Report," available at www.shell.us:

"The belief that alternative fuels can be widely available in the next decade presents a serious challenge to finding realistic short-term solutions [for achieving energy security]...

We've said before that we don't believe there is a magic bullet that will solve our energy challenges. In our view, the solution will require a coherent, comprehensive policy that addresses the full range of possibilities and finds the right balance among the options...

[W]e are convinced that conventional oil and gas must be part of the solution in the short term, in the medium term, and in the long term."

Feb. 14, 2008 - John D. Hofmeister, MA 



Paul Driessen, JD, Senior Policy Advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality, stated in his Sep. 2, 2008 article "The Social Responsibility of Coal," available at the Townhall website:

"We need to conserve, and continue improving renewable energy technologies that currently provide just 0.5% of our energy. But at this time renewables are simply too inefficient, expensive and unreliable to permit a shutdown of hydrocarbon-based systems.

Putting 'social responsibility' and 'environmental justice' in the hands of eco-activists and liberal Democrats is like giving a machine gun to an idiot child. We need definitions that recognize the full spectrum of societal needs, and energy policies that acknowledge life in the real world."

Sep. 2, 2008 - Paul K. Driessen, JD