Sen. Yaw: Responding to the Sun Gazette, Daily Item Column / Letter(s) to the Editor

I am very reluctant to get involved in what amounts to a newspaper tennis match. The utter vitriolic tenor and personal attack of the opinion letters written regarding my op-ed piece about clean energy lead me to respond.  

My message was let’s be realistic about “clean energy.” Windmills do not just drop out of the sky.  There are several manufacturing processes and materials which utilize fossil fuels such as mining and steel and plastic production all of which create greenhouse gas emissions.  Solar panels do not just appear.  Again, there are manufacturing processes and materials derived from fossil fuels.  Nuclear power plants take years to build and involve the production of millions of tons of concrete and steel and emissions are created along the way. Perhaps the end result bares the label “clean energy,” but what emissions were produced in the process to get there?  Ignoring the big picture is superficial thinking at best.

One writer states that environmental and recycling issues relating to solar panels and windmills are acknowledged and being addressed. Yes, some of us acknowledge there is a problem and have sounded the alarm that we need to look at all aspects of producing “clean energy” and, perhaps, most importantly, what do we do with the waste? Just saying the issues are being addressed does not change the fact that emissions are involved in producing these devices and equipment. Moreover, neither the nation, nor Pennsylvania, has the technology to recycle solar panels and windmill materials.   Is this an environmental impact?   Just ignoring that part of the equation with bombastic lip service is not an answer.

Currently there are four nuclear generation sites in Pennsylvania. What emissions were created over the decades of concrete and steel production needed to build those sites?  Moreover, there are now four nuclear waste site located in our communities. Why? Because there is no national policy nor disposal site for nuclear waste. Years ago, a site in Nevada was proposed but killed politically by the then majority leader of the U.S. Senate.   So, the net result is that Pennsylvania has land which will be contaminated by radiation for the next million years.  Is that an environmental impact?  Those issues require too much thought so let’s just ignore them and criticize someone who has the audacity to ask what are the ramifications of the simplistic “clean energy” phrase?

In attacking me personally, probably the most offensive comment was the condescending manner of addressing the issue of child labor. The writer clearly has no clue about the nature and depth of the problem which we face internationally and geopolitically when it comes to our appetite for rare earth minerals.  Please check the CBS investigative report aired March 5, 2018. It is disgusting what some are doing to promote what they perceive to be clean energy.

I opened my op-ed piece with the comment that addressing climate change translates into the superficial and simplistic commentary of just eliminate fossil fuels.  I want to leave one thought–name one, just one, “clean energy” overture which does not rely on fossil fuel for all or part of its production?

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