Brooks: You Can ‘Scream’ and ‘Pretend’ We Can Eliminate Fossil Fuels Soon or Do Things Like Nuclear, Natural Gas That Are Feasible

On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that there are things like promoting nuclear power and natural gas that can help the environment and can actually get passed. He also stated, “You can scream, and you can pretend that we’re going to get rid of fossil fuels in the next 15 years. But that’s not going to happen.” Because “The technology just isn’t there to do that replacement.”

Brooks said, “Joe Manchin’s a senator from West Virginia. What are you going to do? You’re not going to get a more pro-climate change Senator elected from the state of West Virginia. So, Joe Manchin’s being West Virginia. I do think, if you take the long arc of this thing, early days, Clinton thought, and most economists think the way to address climate change is to make carbon more expensive, so carbon taxes. That is a political nonstarter. People will not pay for it, and Clinton suffered for it. The number two, which was what Biden tried to do, is to make renewables less expensive. And that was Build Back Better and it was a very plausible and I think a very good agenda, which is still sitting out there someday for maybe some future Senate. But, in the meantime, why don’t we try to do things that we can do in our political climate? … We could really reinvest in the new modular nukes, which are smaller, emission-free, much safer. And we could extend the leases of a lot of the nuclear plants that are still there, so we rely a lot more on nuclear. We could convert coal plants, which are super-polluting, to natural gas power plants, which are much less polluting. Some people want to plant a trillion trees. Nobody’s against trees.”

He later added, “You can scream, and you can pretend that we’re going to get rid of fossil fuels in the next 15 years. But that’s not going to happen. So, deal with the constraints you have. And when you’re passing the ball, take the eight-yard gain. And so, I do think some of the things that are possible — like, nobody’s against trees. I think Republicans would be for trees and nuclear power and things like that. So, I have low tolerance for the, we’re going to get — let’s go to zero fossil fuels in the near term. The technology just isn’t there to do that replacement.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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