COMMENTS: The Season for Dreaming Green

Last week Texas oilman T Boone Pickens grabbed headlines with his blueprint for an oilfree energy future. Now Nobel Laureate Al Gore qualifies for Story of the Day honors with his plan for the nation's electricity. Gore wants the entire grid to be renewable by 2018. No oil, no coal, no natural gas--no carbon fuels whatsoever. Gore unveiled his $3tr proposal in a speech for in Washington DC. His headline status was secured by CBS anchor Katie Couric, who anchored from the nation's capital where she interviewed the green former Vice President. None of the newscasts led with his call for curbs on fossil fuels. Ironically both ABC and NBC, with substitute anchor Ann Curry, led with news that directly undercut Gore's message: the declining price of crude oil. CBS chose to kick off with an all clear for tomatoes. The Food & Drug Administration no longer fears they may be a source for salmonella.

CBS anchor Couric directly challenged Gore that his ten-year timeline was unrealistic. "Think of the Apollo Program, the Interstate Highway System," he replied. On NBC, Anne Thompson suggested that 30 years was more feasible than a decade. She envisioned the billions of dollars that it would cost to upgrade the electricity grid "so this renewable energy could travel from wind farms on the Texas plains and solar plants in the Nevada desert to the cities and towns that need it." CBS' Nancy Cordes observed that consumers are already facing energy price inflation for gasoline and heating oil and propane. How would they tolerate spending trillions on renewable electricity too? "Once we have built it, the fuel is free. The sunshine and the wind are here. China cannot bid up the price. It is not going to run out," was his soundbite in reply. ABC decided not to jump on Gore's publicity bandwagon by airing a full package, although it did preview Claire Shipman's one-on-one for Good Morning America.


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