At the end of July, I submitted a video question on energy to the two candidates for the Minnesota Senate, incumbent Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) for a YouTube debate. I asked both candidates whether they support drilling in the OCS, ANWR, and nuclear power for potential solutions. As a reminder, I’ll offer my question first:
Watch both responses before scrolling down to my analysis, in order to give both men a fair shake. First, Franken:
In terms of presentation, Franken clearly exceeds Coleman. He addresses me warmly, despite my obvious tilt in terms of the question. The production values are as good as a TV commercial, and Franken spends over three minutes laying out his thoughts on energy. By comparison, Coleman appears rushed, and the quality of the recording speaks for itself. Franken’s team took this more seriously, and it shows.
However, the response itself is very problematic. It stays within the current Democratic Holy Trinity of Speculators, 68 Million Acres, and the SPR Release. He quotes T. Boone Pickens much as the other Democrats do without understanding that Pickens rejects all three of these notions. Franken doesn’t appear to realize that oil leases already have a “use it or lose it” limitation, and that the Senate bill was a redundancy that added nothing to the equation. None of what Franken suggests will add domestic supply, and all of his alternatives are at least as far away as he suggests price impacts from drilling would be.
And Franken falls into the common conundrum of SPR-release fans by claiming that we can’t drill our way out of the crisis, but then suggests a 100-day increase of 500,000 barrels a day as a correction for gas prices. Why not have a couple million barrels a day within two years for the next couple of decades, or perhaps more? Wouldn’t that do more to reduce gas prices?
Franken also doesn’t address nuclear energy, one of my specific points, but Coleman does. He supports a large expansion of nuclear power, and advocates the same “kitchen sink” approach championed by none other than T. Boone Pickens. In Coleman’s more terse message, he also advocates for the same development of energy alternatives, and he identifies the biggest obstacle to it: storage. Coleman wants to see more research on batteries in order to make solar, wind, and hydro power more practical, as well as clean coal and nuclear, as we transfer personal vehicles from gasoline to electricity.
How do you believe they fared?