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Will Burning Bunnies Be Part of the Renewable Energy Portfolio?

Posted By Nicolas Loris On October 15, 2009 @ 4:44 pm In Energy | Comments Disabled

Because that’s what they’re doing [1]in Sweden:

The city of Stockholm shoots thousands of wild rabbits spread across the green spaces of the Swedish capital and sends their bodies to be burned as heating fuel, a practice which has enraged animal rights groups. City official Mats Freij said Stockholm killed 6,000 wild rabbits last year and has culled 3,000 so far this year, but said a subcontractor decided to use the cadavers as fuel.

“One should put this in the perspective that we (humans) are actually cremated ourselves and that generates a completely different reaction,” Freij said in response to criticism. Animal Rights Sweden spokeswoman Lise-Lott Alsenius questioned whether the practice was humane or ethical and suggested neutering the male rabbits as an alternative method of holding down the population.”

Bunny burning isn’t directly attributed to a renewable energy target, and the story is more of an overpopulation of bunnies destroying park plants problem than an alternative energy solution, but it does go to show renewable energy mandates may force energy companies to think outside the box and could lead to unintended consequences – such as burning bunnies.

Back at home [2], “Across the USA, power plants are turning to wood to make electricity. The move is spurred by state mandates to encourage renewable power and by bills moving through Congress that require more renewable electricity nationwide.”

Companies are using bark, twigs and other waste wood but now environmentalists have concerns that forests will have to be cleared to burn more wood. Pete Stewart, who works at a forest-industry analysis firm, warns that [2] whole trees will have to be cut down once the waste wood is gone and that building a wood burning plant is more expensive than a coal or natural gas. Mandating more expensive energy that harms the environment is only something policymakers can drum up. As Heritage President Ed Feulner reminds us [3], it’s free enterprise that leads to economic growth and environmental benefits:

Almost all the settlers who arrived here hundreds of years ago were subsistence farmers. They cleared hundreds of millions of acres of trees. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “A single household could consume 20 to 40 cords of wood annually.” Economic growth changed all that.

First, we progressed from wood to coal. This allowed us to begin replacing millions of trees. Plus, coal was more efficient and easier to transport than wood, so it took less to produce more energy.

But even coal is fairly dirty, and of course digging it out of the ground affects the environment. So the country moved on to natural gas. It was safer, easier to get and cleaner burning.”

Add nuclear energy in the mix. Nuclear power provides about twenty percent of the nation’s electricity. The United States has not ordered a new commer¬cial nuclear reactor in over 30 years, but the 104 plants operating today prevented the release of 681.9 million metric tons of CO2 in 2005, which is comparable to taking 96 percent of cars off the roads.

And if we can successfully harness and distribute energy from the earth’s resources, whether it is sun, wind, or water (preferably not live bunnies), and they are economically competitive, the more competition, the better. But for any energy source, energy production should be based on cost-benefit analysis – an analysis that should be done without including government subsidies, tax production credits or mandates. All energy sources should have the opportunity to compete in the market, so long as they can stand on their own two feet.

Or instead, we can have Congress mandate an Animal Electricity Standard.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/10/15/will-burning-bunnies-be-part-of-the-renewable-energy-portfolio/

URLs in this post:

[1] that’s what they’re doing : http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSTRE59D4LZ20091014?feedType=RSS&feedName=oddlyEnoughNews&rpc=22&sp=true

[2] at home: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-10-13-wood-power_N.htm

[3] reminds us: http://www.heritage.org/press/commentary/ed042004a.cfm

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