30 Issues: Big Energy vs. Big Environment

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: The conflicting forces of the energy lobby and environmentalist groups. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all the conversations.

Open Prep: Questions, Articles, and Links to Get You Started

Key Questions

  • Have Romney and Obama surrendered on climate change?
  • Why is the EPA so controversial?
  • Does either candidate have a clear position on fracking?
  • Is any mass energy source environmentally responsible?

What are your key questions on this topic? Post them below and get the conversation going!


Reading List

Watch: Clips Played Today



30 Issues Interactive from WNYC Data News Team


Got a Follow Up?

Each Friday we'll be following up on one of that week's issues. Got a particular follow-up question from this conversation? Comment below or tweet us. Tweet to @brianlehrer

Comments [27]

Amy from Manhattan

No, you can't drive a car w/a windmill on it, but you can drive an electric car charged w/wind-generated energy! This just shows the limitations of Romney's imagination--& even his knowledge of current (pun intended) technology.

Is there really "big environment"? OK, the environment itself *is* big, but the resources of the environmental movement are tiny compared w/those of the energy industry.

Oct. 10 2012 09:48 AM

we’re suppose to believe just talking about clean air causes unemployment

Oct. 09 2012 01:39 PM
Elizabeth from Brooklyn

I was disappointed that Brian's second guest in this segment gave no specific regulations that the EPA put in place and how those regulations specifically cost jobs. Brian gave him ample opportunity to enumerate them and instead he would say something like "we'll let's back up" and proceed to give more and more out-of-context percentage statistics meant for shock value. Maybe he is unaware that Brian's listeners are a bunch of people who actually think and are not satisfied with "shocking" sound bites. The only one sort-of specific regulation he mentioned was one he admitted the Obama Administration stopped - a weak example indeed. He said the others were "coming down the pike." Why was he so scared to talk specifically? Leads me to think that it's because speaking specifically would reveal that those regulations were not all bad and probably necessary to keep our air and water clean, and the workers he claims he can barely keep on, safe.

Oct. 09 2012 12:05 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN | Sat May 26, 2012 2:02pm EDT

(Reuters) - "German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity - through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said.

The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.

They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass."

Oct. 09 2012 11:47 AM

would the "exchanging human environment for jobs" crowd agree to a set of environmental goals to be automatically employed after 6 quarters of growth/5% unemployment/some other metric?

Cuz in the good times, under the first 6 years of Bush, massive SUVs were america's answer to the question, "when?"

Oct. 09 2012 11:47 AM
Kathy LPV from Long Branch, NJ

Why is the EPA so controversial? - Simple, because the "regulations" that the EPA has will "hurt Businesses' opportunity to "have their way" on the envirornment & on the workers in those enterprises they want to use up ad nausium!
That 50% of businesses wouldn't start a business today - is because of EPA regulations??? Doesn't that tell you something? Business wants a free reign to do as they please, damn the worker [coal miners dying from BLACK LUNG once more], damn the clean air, water, soil of the farmer, cattle rancher, native people's rights [Keystone Pipeline], and damn the economy & our future [reusable energy subsidies vs. Big OIL & Gas & Fracking concerns!
Asking Legislators to talk to & work with Businesses is absurd.
They are already talking too much with businesses, just like they did with the Bank deregulations - & that is the primary cause of the economic melt down we're still in & will be for decades!

Oct. 09 2012 11:44 AM
Bob hancock from NYC

What is the point of having this guy on the show? He doesn't answer a single question and just gets on his soapbox. There is no useful information being imparted.

Oct. 09 2012 11:44 AM
Mike from Manhattan

This guy is a shill for the republican party. He dishes out generalities and propaganda words like "job-killing" and X number of jobs will be lost, but without any facts or citations to sources to back up those number. He is a fraud like his political masters.

Oct. 09 2012 11:43 AM

1. "Cap and trade is an example of big government not listening to business..."
Cap and trade was invented by some free market business people seeking to make a new marketplace. These business people (Chicago cap and trade) convinced govenrment to consider.

2. Anyway our relatively clean air and water, having shifted most manufacturing except energy to China and other lawless geographical regions, is and will be america's first strength as the rest of the world gets ruined. American real estate gets morea n more valuable every day to chinese millionaires who can't breathe the air. only the epa stands between that real estate value model, and chinese polluters (including 3m, ford, etc.) moving (back) here.

Oct. 09 2012 11:42 AM
jch from NY

Why does Brian always give theses shills a megaphone? They have the money to buy Congress, do they have to get free air time too?

Oct. 09 2012 11:41 AM
Hoshiar Abdollah from Kingston, Canada

Your guest is having a problem answer your questions. Romney and his surrogates do believe science and like to take us back to 19th century where there no regulation or worker rights.

Oct. 09 2012 11:41 AM
David Bush from NYC

Brian - he made a lot of job claims without stats to back them up

Oct. 09 2012 11:40 AM
Tim from Montclair

How are the figures of the cost of regulations and the number of jobs lost configured? It is easy to say this regulation would cost X jobs and cost $X amount without divulging how you come up with those numbers. Also, what about the costs of not implementing certain regulations, like the costs to the health of the public.

Oct. 09 2012 11:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I'd just like to throw out what I consider three important points:

1> One of the main bases of US prosperity was CHEAP and plentiful energy sources, from forests, to plentiful water flow, to plentiful coal and oil. Cheap energy is still underlies US prosperity;

2> Without fossil fuel industry, there is no Republican party. The fossil fuel industry is the major source of financial support for the Republican party.

3> The cost of solar energy in Germany today is 30% less today than in the US, due to the volume of German installation of solar power in the country versus the US. Germany is showing the way in reducing dependence on fossil fuel AND nuclear, and going towards solar and other renewables. Why can't we do what Germany is doing? Hint: Our huge fossil fuel industry.

Oct. 09 2012 11:39 AM

so the big business spokesman can’t come up with one single regulation that has cost business one dime. Yet another boogieman exposed as a falsehood
great question brian

Oct. 09 2012 11:37 AM

"chilling effect" - double speak for we don't have concrete reasons. you asked a simple question give one example. please ask it again I want to hear one example that went into effect under this administration and killed jobs

Oct. 09 2012 11:37 AM
Joe from nearby

Conservative business owners hate the EPA because its head is a chemical engineer, so they can't fool her. She's also black- but of course, they aren't racist or anything.

Oct. 09 2012 11:34 AM

it’s this simple. The GOP thinks one should be free to sell rancid meat and poison water. Its called the FREE MARKET

Oct. 09 2012 11:31 AM

To Romney's completely inane comment that "you can't drive a car with a windmill on top of it", I'd forget the technicalities he's conveniently ignoring, and just say:
(Of course, he wouldn't understand that either.)

Oct. 09 2012 11:24 AM

Why is Mr. Romney allowed to pretend that oil transported through our country via the Keystone XL (or any other) pipeline will be used domestically rather than feed the global market? This is a persistent fantasy used by the Right to pretend that any fossil fuel resource produced in our country will be used solely in our country. The Right needs to be educated on why this belief is a fantasy.

Oct. 09 2012 11:20 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

I wonder what the balance of money and political power that the old line-fossil fuel industry (i.e., "Big Energy") has in comparison to human health and environmentalist advocates (i.e., "Big Environment")?

Oh yeah, there is no comparison; there is only total domination by one BIG, namely, "Big Energy."

Oct. 09 2012 11:15 AM
sophia from yonkers

Why don't I hear anything about Thorium Nuclear power plants.
wouldn't they solve alot of the safety and carbon issues?

Oct. 09 2012 11:13 AM

The automatic support and defense of Obama from the major environmental groups is the reason Obama feels free to ignore them.

Gay groups threatened to withold their money and got something.

Latinos threatened to withold their votes and got something.

Environmental groups have given unconditional support and gotten nothing.

Oct. 09 2012 11:13 AM
oscar from ny

Big energy and big enviroment equals cynthetic magnetism.
The earth rotates, balances, keeps us from falling apart with the power of magnets, one day when were tired of leaching from each other than we will realize how much free energy there is out there...

Oct. 09 2012 09:46 AM
swift2.0 from West Windsor, NJ

Romney mocked Obama for trying "to slow the rise of the oceans". Romney claims that it's for the sake of our children and grandchildren that he is so greatly concerned about accumulating federal debt. The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that, unless we act, climate change will likely inflict momentous ecological damage in the future. Of course, it is these same children and grandchildren that will have to bear the brunt of these potentially devastating calamities.The hypocrisy and the political shamelessness is blatant here.

Sep. 20 2012 11:57 AM
Scott, Masters in Sustainability Mgt. student from Lower East Side

Global warming is arguably one of the largest, most life changing challenges "modern" humans have faced yet it is going largely untouched in the 2012 election. Why? I believe one reason is the intense focus on the economy which has become exhaustingly short-term based. The more society makes decisions for the short-term (quarterly returns, etc.) the further we get from addressing the long-term affects of these decisions. This is particularly true when it comes to natural resource depletion, biodiversity destruction and the ability for humans to even come close to meeting the needs of a future increasingly populous Earth. I would like to see the candidates speak about the challenges to climate change as an OPPORTUNITY for innovation, job creation and a more sustainable future rather than an impediment to economic growth. Debating how to deal with climate change is a human (and all living things) issue not a political one.

Sep. 19 2012 03:51 PM
Smokey from LES

We must get off coal.

We need to move away from natural gas soon.

If technology and money and land and transmission lines were unlimited, we could probably power the world with solar/wind/etc. But we don't know how to store large amounts of energy so for now, this isn't a full solution for dependable power.

The only quick easy way to get to clean energy is nuclear. Not the horrible dangerous first generation plants we have now, but third and fourth generation plants that are inherently safe. (Thorium, LFTR, etc) And they will also burn almost all of our existing nuclear waste for power.

We must be smart and not emotional about making the right choices - our children's future depends on it.

Sep. 14 2012 02:36 PM

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