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Gore Aims High on Renewable Energy Goal for U.S.

BY Admin  July 17, 2008 at 2:15 PM EDT

Al Gore speaks about energy's future; AP photo

“Our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at
the core of all three of these challenges — the economic, environmental and
national security crises,” Gore saidin his speech in Washington. “We’re
borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways
that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.”

The goal of using only renewable energy within just a decade
is achievable and necessary for national security, he said.

“The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk.
And even more — if more should be required — the future of human civilization
is at stake,” Gore said. “Our economy is in terrible shape and
getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are
electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble.
Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under
growing pressure.”

Gore’s bipartisan group, the Alliance for Climate Protection, estimates the
cost of converting the U.S. to clean electricity sources at $1.5 trillion to $3
trillion in public and private money over 30 years, the Associated Press
reported. But he says it would cost about as much to build greenhouse gas-emitting
coal plants to satisfy current demand.

“This is an investment that will pay itself back many times over,”
he said. “It’s an expensive investment but not compared to the rising cost
of continuing to invest in fossil fuels.”

Called an alarmist by some critics, Gore has made global warming his
signature issue. He portrayed his speech as the latest and most important phase
in his effort to build public opinion in favor of alternative fuels.

According to the New York Times, Gore spoke sharply against the “defenders
of the status quo, the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current
system” — an apparent jab at President Bush, Gore’s rival in the 2000
presidential race.

Looking ahead to the next presidency, Gore said fellow Democrat Barack Obama
and Republican rival John McCain are “way ahead” of most politicians
in the fight against global climate change.

He compared his vision to President John F. Kennedy’s challenge in 1961 to
land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

To meet his goal, Gore said nuclear energy output would continue at current
levels while the U.S. would dramatically increase its use of solar, wind,
geothermal and clean coal energy. Huge investments must also be made in
technologies that reduce energy waste and link existing power grids, he said.

“America’s transition to renewable energy sources must also include
adequate provisions to assist those Americans who would unfairly face
hardship,” he said. “For example, we must recognize those who have
toiled in dangerous conditions to bring us our present energy supply. We should
guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced
by impacts on the coal industry. Every single one of them.”

In 2005, the United States produced nearly 3.7 billion kilowatt hours of
electricity, with coal providing slightly more than half of that energy,
according to government statistics. Nuclear power accounted for 21 percent,
natural gas 15 percent and renewable sources, including wind and solar, about
8.6 percent.

Coal’s share of electricity generation is expected to grow by 2030,
according to Energy Department forecasts, while renewable energy would still
only provide 11 percent of the nation’s power.