Wednesday, June 23, 2010

BP, Windmills, natural seepage, etc.

Is BP, as a classic "Big Oil" company, also anti-windmill and anti-solar, so that we can safely divide up the world into good guys and bad guys?

Not exactly. BP has been a major investor in "alternative energy," and partly for that reason, they have been very close to members and supporters of the Obama Administration.

BP's investments in alternative energy may have been largely for show, but it may also be true that alternative energy remains a waste of money--a sinkhole for government money--in any case.

Yglesias doesn't seem to realize this.

One good thing about the social sanction path is that it allows one to draw a distinction between good and bad lobbying. Formally speaking, a lobbyist for windmills is just as much a lobbyist as a lobbyist for big oil. But while the Wind Lobby is not pure as the driven snow, it’s hardly black as an oil slick wrecking the ocean. And even within the realm of profit-seeking corporations, cable companies looking to bilk customers out of money are still a lot less malign than firms involved in the destruction of the planet. Clearly you’re never going to entrench common sense distinctions like that in a law, but they could be entrenched in social practice.

We need the energy. Companies deliver it. While enjoying its benefits, Yglesias expects us to join in a general condemnation of what they do?

Also a funny note. A lot of the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, in deep waters, has adapted to hydrocarbon seeps, and some actually depends on oil seepage to survive. But, some of the greens say, the seepage has to be gradual, not sudden. Yes, granted, some tube worms actually depend on seeps of hydrocarbons to survive; but that is gas, not oil. Of course: natural good, man-made bad.

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