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David Freeman

INTERVIEWEE: David Freeman (DF)
INTERVIEWER: David Weisman (DW)
DATE: July 23, 2007
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California
TRANSCRIBER: Rhonda Wheeler and Robin Johnson
REEL: 2391

Note: Numbers refer to time codes for the VHS tape copy of the interview.

DW: Okay. We’re here for the first part of our afternoon on behalf of the Conservation History Association of Texas and we’d like to discuss with Mr. Dave Freeman his tenure during his years in Texas for this oral history project. It is Monday, the twenty-third of July and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to participate with us.
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DF: I’m glad to be here.
DW: All right. The first question we’d like to ask is if you could you give us an overview before coming to Texas of what work you might have done in the Carter Administration or with the TVA that might help us understand how those experiences led to your later work at LCRA.
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DF: Well, I was the Chairman of the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority under Jimmy Carter. And I served as a board member for seven years and chairman for a good number of those years. And we had quite a bit of experience. We shut down eight nuclear power plants under construction because we didn’t need them and they
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were too expensive. And we also initiated the nation’s largest energy efficiency program. We had three hundred energy doctors out making house calls. And we built the equivalent of a nuclear power plant by saving energy we would have otherwise lost. We also had initiatives in OTL farming and all sorts of other things that TVA championed, soil conservation, solar power, renewables. It was a huge experience and a huge organization and I think it equipped me well for the work I did in Texas.
DW: What was it specifically on—whose invitation or was it your own initiative that you made the decision to go to the LCRA?
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DF: I was very happy in Seattle, Washington consulting on the WPPSS Project, the project where public power got taken to the cleaners so to speak. And I got a phone call from a fellow named Bob King in Austin who told me that the LCRA badly needed a—a progressive manager and that would I please listen to a phone call from some of the board members, which I did and which led to my being recruited and hired to be the general manager of what’s affectionately called the Lower Colorado River Authority. It was—it’s the little Colorado River, not the big one and goes through Austin down to the ocean.
DW: What was your initial impression of the LCRA, coming as you had from these other power things?
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DF: My initial impression is that it was in a heap of trouble, I mean, a real big heap of trouble. It had just about every scandal you could think of. There was the Trailer Gate episode of—of sex being offered to the employees by contractors. There was a lignite mine that didn’t make any sense at all but they’d already bought all the equipment. And there were customers who were so angry at the LCRA they didn’t want to talk to them, namely the distributors of power, LCRA being a wholesaler. And frankly, just about everything that co—could go wrong, seemed to have gone wrong. So it was a perfect beginning.
DW: Did you feel that you needed to make changes both at the board level and the staff level? Or was—were they at odds with each other?
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DF: Well, there was no confidence in the staff by the board because they had misled them and pretty much let them down. And so I had to get rid of some bad actors. Uh, one of them happened to be the most popular person in the company that I had to fire and that was not fun. And then we had to get rid of some of the contractors that were offering more than just money to our employees. And the clean up campaign, it was interesting. I was the only person in the company that was without taint, so to speak, so I had a pretty free hand in cleaning things up and we did it. Uh, and then we had to restore confidence in the legislature and we did a few things to make that happen.
DW: Now it’s funny you mentioned that, it wasn’t on my list but the Texas legislature seems to be a particularly unique body in the annals of legislatures. I mean, you used lightly the words corruption, bribery. How was it to come from a progressive place like say, the TVA out of the New Deal and hit a place like the Texas leg.?
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DF: Well, the—I didn’t find any, um, corruption in the legislature. I found that the staff had tried to corrupt the board into doing things that they didn’t tell them about. But I remember meeting a senator named Sharpe who had just been having a field day using the LCRA as a punching bag. Uh, and what I did was I took all the American Express cards of the employees, collected them all and put them in a—cut them all in two, put them in a brown bag and handed it to the senator and says we’ve cleaned up our act. And he took that bag of credit cards all over the state saying—bragging about how he’d
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cleaned up the LCRA and we became fast friends. It took a few symbolic acts like that, Texas style, to get people thinking differently about us and it happened. Also, we spent a lot of time talking to the customers and making peace with them but it was an interesting experience.
DW: How did the conservation culture in Texas and at the LCRA compare with that, say, in Tennessee or Washington?
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DF: Well, it wasn’t all that great anywhere back in the seventy’s and early eighty’s but frankly there was a provincial parochial interest in lignite which is near coal, it’s about half the BTU value of coal and twice the pollution per BTU. So we had to wean them of their interest in lignite just because it existed in Texas and we were able to do that. I think the—the most interesting thing was at Christmas the first year, they gave me a—a Browning automatic shotgun as a gift and my daughter was appalled when I told her about that. And so I tried to add insult to injury and I knew better and I said, well, where
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are the bullets and tha—that marked me as a stupid outsider. But I did it on purpose because I was disgusted with the idea of receiving a shotgun as a gift. Uh, but we—we—our cultures uh, merged in the sense that we started to get the job done and they were pretty happy with the results.
DW: How did you manage to scuttle the Cummins Creek Mine and Power Project when, again, the equipment had already been brought, even the draglines and the mining gear?
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DF: Well, I remember one of the first things I had to do was to stop the staff from going down and getting a permit to start mining about the second week I was there. And I u—said that we had to study it and we studied it un—until we had a few new board members and we had the help of the lieutenant governor who owned a home in Fayette County and didn’t want to see it destroyed and he was very helpful. And—and education, we sent board members to hear, uh—uh, speeches and to learn about pollution. And after a while, I just laid the numbers on the table and we—we got Wyoming coal delivered a
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whole lot cheaper. Uh, and in order to—for people not to feel that badly about it, we acquired a little bit of better lignite, which we held in reserves. And—see yo—yo—you don’t change things any more abruptly than you need to, so we just shut down this mine and we said this lignite is really no good but we have some better lignite that someday we might use. We’ll never use it, of course, and we moved on. And I think the LCRA has found that the uh, Fayette Power Plant fueled by uh, Wyoming coal has done very well ever since.
DW: Do you recall in the battle against that any grassroots group that opposed the project like the Fayette County Lignite, did you work with such grassroots groups?
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DF: Oh, sure, and I figure I can go back to Fayette County any day now and get a big hug from some of those people because really the farmers down there were about to lose their way of life. We were going to turn that county upside down and inside out with the strip mining and the fact that we ended up not doing it kind of made a ten horned hero out of me.
DW: How did you find the work of grassroots groups like that in Texas as compared to the so-called more—even would think, California type of places?
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DF: Well, they’re not as numerous and frankly, not as influential. They—they were quaint an—and interesting and I love them but it really took the lobbying with the lieutenant governor and some hard facts and some new board members to get the job done.
DW: How have the Cummins Creek’s permits led to SO2 credit sales and what value do you see in those cap and trade programs for acid rain?
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DF: Well, I’m not big on cap and trade. I’m—I’m big on pollution controls and doing the very best at every power plant that the technology is available to do. So but we ended up with some of the lowest cost fuel in the state down there at Fayette, with a very good rail contract and some reasonably priced coal and nobody that I know of has ever shed a tear over closing that lignite mine. I don’t think you’ll find anybody that suggests that that was a mistake. I think it’s long forgotten and the—the bluebonnets bloom and everybody is pretty happy over that decision.
DW: How and why was the Shaw’s Bend Dam cancelled and de-authorized and do you recall any of the citizens’ groups like the Clear Clean Colorado River Association involved in any of this?
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DF: Well, I recall those citizens groups, I don’t really recall us being in a big fight over any dam. What I do recall is that the water rights were all up for grab and the City of Austin was trying to grab them all and the LCRA really inherently had the claim on enormous water rights, which I’m proud of having helped perfect during my tenure. Uh, we went to the State Water Resources Board and we got rulings that it was our water resources. I also remember a big fight with Austin where they wanted to build a big pumping plant on Lake Travis that would’ve sucked all the water out of the lake if we’d
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let them and we—and I called that a water nuke, and that killed it and—because they were opposed to nuclear power. And so, we had major struggles with the City of Austin over water and we pretty much won and then we started cleaning up the Colorado River with uh, you know, measures to enforce pollution control at waste water treatment plants and other things. Frankly, the people in Texas are more sensitive to water quality than the people in Colorado, I mean, in California in my judgment. Uh, water quality in Austin is a really big thing, the—there’s tertiary recovery, there’s all ko—kinds of ordinances in the city. I felt very much at home in Austin on water quality and feel like that we made a good effort that’s being sustained.
DW: Some of the more specific areas around that might have been this, do you recall the LCRA’s efforts to buy downstream senior water rights from the rice farmers or any efforts to reduce the rice irrigation to avoid the upstream water shortages?
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DF: I remember the rice farmers as being about as greedy a bunch of people as I’ve ever met. I remember a huge meeting I had with them in which I simply wanted to assess a small fee for delivering the water from the Colorado River to the farms through canals. And lo and behold they just threw up a hissy fit and so I just said to them, well, perhaps we just need to give you back the canals and yo—you can manage them yourself. That kind of brought that discussion to a screeching halt. Uh, they—they—my picture of the rice farmers are folks with their hands stuck out and cussing the government. Uh, and
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the—I hate to say—be that blunt about it but they—they have virtually free water and they used it with great abandon and any attempts at reforms, they consider government mixing in their business.
DW: I like the way you call that the government, because isn’t that what they call it down there? Well, I also wondering if you could discuss maybe other tensions on the water supply between, say, the Highland Lakes area and Colorado and Wharton Counties and then between the whole Colorado River Basin and the extremely rapidly growing city of San Antonio.
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DF: Well, of course the upstream people feel that the downstream people really want more water than they should have. They want the water to stay behind the lake so that the recreation purposes are better served and there’s always tension there, that’s LCRA’s job to manage the river system for the benefit of—of everyone. Uh, San Antonio had an almost unquenchable thirst for water and we tried to do some deals to move some surplus water their direction. Uh, th—the water issues move like glacier. It’s like a—a movie, you can be away from it for years and come back and the same show’s playing. And I
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think that the idea of true conservation hadn’t really taken hold yet. And that there’s plenty of water, we can use it and reuse it and reuse it and the no—the—the biggest problem that hadn’t yet been overcome is what I’d call squeamishness, people’s reluctance to take water that’s once been used and reuse it, whereas if you think about it, all the water is reused over and over again through the natural system and if we just renamed these wat—waste water treatment plants as water beautification plants and recognize that what comes out of them is pretty clean water and reused it, we’d have plenty of water.
DW: What was your position on the Marble Falls and other proposals to discharge the treated water into Highland Lakes? Did the LCRA get into negotiations with the City of Austin over how it would treat the waste water which flowed below the Longhorn Dam for Bastrop and—and Columbus?
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DF: Well, those are two questions there. We ended up ordering Marble Falls to put their effluent on the land and use it for fertilizer rather than into the lake, which I think was a good move and a progressive move. As far as Austin and—downstream of Austin these were bigger issues and while the LCRA really has the authority to impose even stricter standards than the state, uh—uh, and Colorado River, I don’t think it’s chosen to exercise that authority and so there are still debates about the water quality downstream of Austin. Although, I must say that the tertiary treatment is a very high degree of—of clean up that is done by the city.
DW: Can please tell me about the adoption of the non point source ordinances in the Highland Lakes area which is one of the first and still one of the very few enacted by a River Authority in Texas.
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DF: That may very well been our great accomplishment in the water side. I mean, the very idea that in the State of Texas, that you can enact—enact an ordinance that really tells landowners that they have to retain eighty percent of the discharge on their land through control measures in the lake, it’s almost a political miracle that we got that done. Uh, the way it happened was the confluence of two events—one, a recession. Uh, we did this at a time when there weren’t a lot of—of projects that were being built so that there was not the current opposition that you would get from developers who felt like they had
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to pay a bit more money, although existing sources had—had to take—take place. And then—and then we had the—the benefit of a—of—of a film that we made that dramatized the difference between Lake Austin, the downstream lake that had no protection and what could be done at Lake Travis that was still re—reasonably clean, and—and I think that that film helped dramatize our point. And once we put the ordinances into Lake Travis, they—I think they were put in in the upper lakes and I think they still exist. It’s a—a testament that you should never say never and you shouldn’t underestimate the a—ability of a political system to do good if you re—really, really try.
DW: How would you weigh the impacts from the Fayette Power project, which imports and burns Montana coal…
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DF: Wyoming coal.
DW: …Wyoming coal with the out of state strip-mining and the rail travel against the local issue, in other words, is it mitigating because you have the problem somewhere else, so to speak?
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DF: Not at all. The Wyoming coal is two or three times is focused in terms of BTU’s. In other words, the pollution per BTU is a small fraction of what it would be if you burned lignite, so that from an environmental point of view, you get the same amount of electricity with far less air pollution. And then that coal is mined in huge seams that are s—hu—very, very tall and—and it really disturbs relatively small amounts of land, so compared to the lignite, which is only a few feet deep and where you have to dig up half the county in order to get enough. I—I think that from an environmental point of view, it’s not even close.
DW: Do you happen to know what was the LCRA’s board’s and the public’s view of conservation investments to reduce energy demand and then what your role was in pressing for conservation and energy efficiency?
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DF: Well, I look back at that as—and feeling that we didn’t score a huge success in Texas with our energy efficiency efforts back in the 1980’s. We did a whole lot more good in the Tennessee Valley. There was just not the same kind of support, frankly and maybe I just didn’t try as hard as I could have, but if I think back upon the LCRA experience, we introduced the idea of efficiency and we had a few programs here and there but the production, build, macho mentality just didn’t fit with conservation back then. I think today it’s alive and well but, we were just a l—little too early or maybe a little too meek.
DW: Can you describe any of the initiatives you undertook internally within the LCRA on the retail side of energy conservation?
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DF: Well, we tried to work with our distributors and to encourage them, but they were separate entities and I remember there was one distributor, the manager was Doyle Hines who in his co-op, they were very advanced with load management techniques and all sorts of techniques like that . And we had others that would experiment with solar power but we didn’t have direct control over the distributors and it was a mixed bag as I recall.
DW: Can you recall the history of creating an actual environmental department at the LCRA and some of the examples that we’ve heard about like the warning system for storms or working on controlling marina construction and so forth.
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DF: Yeah, we did those things and we tried to upgrade the role of the environment. Uh but you have to realize this was in the 1980’s and the environmental movement was focusing on Don’t Mess with Texas Beaches and slogans like that that were cl—we did a lot of clean-up efforts. I remember we gave away a lot of t-shirts to people who came out on Saturdays and helped clean up the river side in—in the areas. So we were pretty big into the recycling and—and—and to have a cleaner environment and we felt like we did our part for air quality by not burning the lignite. But I—and we didn’t get into the nuclear business so we avoided that pitfall. But ot—other than that, you know, it was more a—a cheerleading awareness set of programs back then than other things, although we took water quality very, very seriously and—as well as air quality.
DW: To the extent that the LCRA is a political organization with provincial representatives from various parts of the watershed, how did you deal with the pressure to build goodwill projects in various areas within the basin, like the Bastrop gas plant or the Smithville rail yards or the LaGrange lignite mine et cetera?
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DF: Well, the lignite mine was on the table, so to speak, when I got there. I didn’t—I was impressed with the broad gauge view of most of these board members. I mean, compared to later assignments and my view of the world generally and the view of Texas generally, it—it was interesting. The governor never mixed in to my knowledge, certain of the fifteen board members came and they took positions largely on the merits. Uh, I don’t—o—of course occasionally one director would invite me up to his neck of the woods and say wouldn’t this be a good place for a park or something like that, but it was
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kind of mild lobbying. And my impression was that these were broad gauge people. I mean, I took the time to visit each board member in their own home before I took the job and that was very revealing. These were all important people in their area and they—they took their responsibilities very, very seriously and forthrightly. I—I have nothing but praise for these board members as a group. I mean, there’s obviously an exception or two.
DW: What was the role and relationship of the LCRA among the other river authorities in Texas, many of which might have been less progressive?
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DF: Th—they—they thought we were crazy, in a nutshell. I mean, we were doing progressive things that perhaps made them squirm a bit. We were not part of the crowd and the river authorities were a—a good size crowd, so we had that, you know reputation you know, we were kind of from Austin, we were mavericks.
DW: Were there any outright places where you literally had to battle either through litigation or the political process, turf war, if you will.
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DF: I don’t recall, I think our fights that I recall were mainly with the City of Austin, which is right next door and, who, for a while, had failed to build their own transmission lines, so some of their electricity came to them without permission over our wires. And I had to threaten to black them out if they didn’t build some transmission of their own. And we had a big fight over water rights with the City of Austin. But other than that, I—I don’t recall any major direct fights.
DW: Was there much concern at the time or was it generally known or even considered things like the depletion of the Edwards Aquifer or was this still a decade away, that type of (?)?
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DF: I think there was awareness that that could be a problem but not necessarily a lot of action.
DW: What do you recall at the LCRA where the authority sought to press for better in-stream flow protection and conservation efforts similar to that?
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DF: I don’t have a clear recollection of that being a separate major issue. It may be that it just wasn’t controversial enough to—left a mark in my head.
DW: Do you recall what was the role and relationship of the LCRA as a publicly owned utility among the other co-ops and private utilities in Texas, do you recall anything about the LCRA trying to press for renewable power energy conservation among these other utilities?
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DF: Well, we always had tension with the investor owned utilities, who in their own way would—considered LCRA public power and a threat and I guess they would’ve been happy to see us privatize. Uh, but our performance was good enough that that never rose to be a serious issue, even though some people in the legislature may have made some noises. As far as the other public agencies, I think we considered ourselves a leader and it may have irritated some of them that we were pushing new things, but we—we took—kind of took pride in that.
DW: What were these threats for privatization of the LCRA and how serious did they ever reach?
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DF: Well, in my time, they didn’t reach a—a level of great concern. The private companies, of course, resented the fact that we had lower rates and the use of public funds but that public prio—fight had gone on for decades and we’d pretty much reached a—a kind of a stalemate. So I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. On the other hand, w—we had a dominate role in the transmission grid, so that we were a big player in the Texas grid. And a lot of the so-called private companies had to run some of the power over our lines and we were regulated by the Texas Public Utilities Commission, which is different than public power in most states. So they didn’t have a whole lot to complain about.
DW: Do you happen to know what considerations the LCRA put into choosing not to invest in the South Texas Nuclear Project, especially those years before you arrived.
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DF: Best I can figure out, it was just pure good luck that—that they didn’t go into it. I think there was some controversy about who was going to dominate, they never wanted to be in partners with anyone else. We always wanted to own our own power plant. And I think for that reason, the staff decided not to join in the consortium to build a nuclear plant, which turned out to be a very wise decision. But I don’t think it was made on antinuclear grounds.
DW: Are there any interests that go back even as far as your childhood, I mean, I detect the south, but not necessarily Texas in your accent.
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DF: No, I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee and I grew up in what you might call a socialist household. My father was a great believer in public power and things like that, so that I came to this line of work kind of naturally, and was a great advocate not just a a—a player.
DW: Were there any particular interests when you grew up, would it be around the time just after the rural electrification programs with the New Deal?
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DF: Well. I remember as a kid watching Franklin Roosevelt come down Market Street in an open car to—after dedicating the Chickamauga Dam near Chattanooga. And TVA was considered a—kind of a—an icon. I mean, I—I guess when I went to engineering school, my objective was to get a job with TVA. The fact that I then came back under Jimmy Carter as the Chairman of the Board is kind of an ego trip unbeknownst to most people. And so, a—I came with—with that background and the LCRA is really a little TVA, it was Lyndon Johnson’s creation and so I felt, you know, like being part of history in ru—running—running the place. And it was a—it was a good feeling and I think we—we got a fair amount of—of good things done during those years.
DW: Have you ever been tempted to go into the private power sector with the idea of maybe reforming them from the inside?
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DF: Nope.
DW: Are they perhaps just not reformable?
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DF: Well, you can’t, you know, be the head of something and assume that you want it to become public pow—I mean, it’s—it—it—it would be a—a gross exercise in rationalization if you tried to justify, you know, on any kind of ideological grounds. You do that to make a bunch of money and while I’ve never been broke, I—I’m—money has not been the objective of my life and I have succeeded rather well in not—in not making money.
DW: When one looks at that difference between public and private power, we notice the words they use are close but not the same, you have stockholders in private power, you have what they call stakeholders in…
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DF: Oh, the differences are more than just semantic. Our job is to bring the electricity to the consumer on a cost of service, non-profit basis, whereas the—the CEO of a private company has got a duty to his stockholders to make a bunch of money.
DW: And now into this formula be we public or private, we must consider the externalities of the environment.
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DF: On that front, I think public power has been a gross failure. Uh, I don’t think public power has employed an environmental yardstick the way they did the price yardstick. I think, by and large in California, the privately owned utilities are just as environmentally sensitive as the public and perhaps more so because the public utility commission is forcing them to do so and there’s no comparable force on the public utilities. I mean, a mayor or—or two will say so but it’s just not happening.
DW: Is there anything particularly unique about the public utilities that are in Texas very different from our California public utilities?
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DF: Well, what’s unique is that they regulate the publicly owned utilities as well. That was what struck me as being different. So, in one sense, the regulation is the more comprehensive in Texas than it is in California. Other than that, I—I don’t know that there’s any fundamental difference. California perhaps has been more of a leader on environmental stuff but Texas is now the home of huge amounts of wind power and they’re—they’re into efficiency. And, in a sense, if you employ an environmentally sensitive measure in Texas, it’s a good deal more of a message to the rest of the country than if California does it.
DW: Are there any lessons you learned at LCRA in your experiences there, that then you were able to take to your work at either the New York Public Power Authority or SMUD, things that you picked up in Texas?
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DF: Sure, I have a vivid recollection of a wise board member at the LCRA taking me aside one day and saying, Dave, if a fellow is dumb and screwed up, he or she doesn’t get one bit smarter by chewing them out. You’ve got to either educate them or fire them, and that was a fundamental lesson for me. The tendency is to criticize if somebody does something wrong, but that’s not very useful. So I, in my first year at SMUD, I got this unique pa—uh, pack from—plaque from the employees, it said, for showing respect to the employees. And so that was a lesson that I think I learned from a board member in Texas and tried to observe since then. I also learned that the human side of relations with board members is really important and getting to know each of these board members as human beings and visiting them in their own home, you get a different
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picture than somebody sitting around a table at a board member and you—you can relate to them better. So, I have tried to get to know people better and not just treat people as robots. An—and then, of course, the experience in dealing with things, I also learned that sometimes it’s better to just do something and then get permission later on. I went into a gas fired power plant at LCRA and found out that they were being paid less for comparable work than employees in the coal fired plant. And I looked into it and I found out it was the coal fired plant was built at a time when there was a shortage of
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skilled workers and so they just paid them more, but that that discrepancy had stayed for years and years. And so I didn’t ask my board anything, I just changed the salaries and made them all equal. And somebody grumbled once, well where’d you get the authority to do that, I said, well, it’s just the right thing to do and nobody ever tried to correct it. And so I learned that if something is just egregiously wrong and you’re the manager, you ought to—you ought to just not ask permission, just—just straighten it out and let—let people worry about it. And that was a—and I could go back to that gas fired
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plant today and get a—a big cheer out of people because they remember. I’ve run into people on airplanes that worked there and they come up to me and they—they still remember that. So the—the things that you do kind of spontaneously and personally are sometimes more important than things that you think about forever.
DW: In your time in Texas, did you ever come across a particular favorite place, and if not in Texas, do you have one elsewhere that’s sort of your recharge place when you have to get away from it all?
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DF: You know, it’s hard for me to say anything other than praise for Austin, which is one of the great cities, area around there. I’ve lived all over America. I haven’t found anyplace better than Marina Del Rey, where I live right now. I feel like I’m on vacation everyday. I mean, I’m thirty seconds from a beautiful beach, we have mild temperatures, we have no sm—humidity, the air is crisp and the people are beautiful. It just doesn’t get much better than right here. And when I was living in Austin, my favorite place was my
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swimming pool, which is right off the living room and loved the house I lived in. It’s the best home I’ve every lived in. I didn’t need to go anywhere. I could—I could shut it all off and just jump in the pool.
DW: How would you say you feel the concern of climate change has affected energy production, for example, when it came to things like the coal and the lignite? Would they be looked at now in a different light than they were at the time you were there and the same would apply to water supply and demand and particularly in a place like Texas, where it’s so critical?
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DF: There—there’s no question that the fossil fuels are viewed in a different light at least by me, today than it was then. I mean, I was very proud of substituting, you know, high BTU western coal for low BTU lignite and bragged about how it cut the pollution in half or more. But I wouldn’t be bragging about Wyoming coal today because I think the awareness of global warming and the fact that coal is very carbon intensive, is now, you know, em—embedded in your head. And so I think the—the concern is much more obvious. I mean, I wrote about global warming in the seventies but at that time I couldn’t
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decide whether the cooling effect of global warming or the heating effect of more particles in the air was going to dominate. But now, it’s pretty clear that global warming is a—is a very serious concern and we have to be looking to the renewable energy sources fundamentally. And I have a book coming out in—October 1, entitled Winning Our Energy Independence in which I think it’s time to make a cre—clean break from the past. That we ought to view tomorrow as the first day of our energy lives
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and we ought to turn loose of the fossil fuels for new plants, and we shouldn’t build any new facilities that are not renewable. And if we make that decision, we can do it. The renewable resources are there but the hard part is turning loose of the past and now all these people say, well, it’s okay if we sequester the carbon. Well give me a break. I mean, we haven’t figured out how to tuck a little bit of—of spent fuel into the ground from uranium. How are we going to ever accommodate the huge volumes of carbon? We’re just kidding ourselves. We don’t want to turn loose of the past and the politics of the past have to change. People need to recognize that the folks in Texas want a future for their grandchildren and they’re interested in renewable energy more so than oil. And
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the people in West Virginia also are not necessarily wed to coal. They want jobs. And but the sun shines in West Virginia and the sun shines in Texas and the wind blows of—in many of those places and we need to harness those resources.
DW: If you had the opportunity to give some advice for a younger generation who may come to this archive on the internet or wherever they find the stuff today, what, if so, would that be?
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DF: Don’t pay a t—any attention to us energy experts. We’re the voice of the past. Think for yourself and if you’re starting out and don’t know anything, would you really build a radioactive factory to make electricity when you can just harness the sun? Or would you really go out into the Gulf of Mexico and drill miles and miles into the depths to get a little bit of petroleum when you can just harness the wind? I think that if you think about it, you will decide that all of our energy can be, should be and will be renewable and we just need to phase out over a thirty year period and develop a society that can truly be sustainable, otherwise it won’t be.
[End of Reel 2391]
[End of interview with David Freeman]