Driving through the Southwest desert. Top down. Pushing 80 (honest, it?s legal here). The radio is on full blast, tuned to the clearest station, which happens to be ?the oldies.? Suddenly it?s Gracie Slick and the Jefferson Airplane. She?s singing, shouting: ?One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small...? And indeed, it is a rather psychedelic experience. Once in Albuquerque, at the Western Governors? Association North American Energy Summit, I truly felt like I had fallen down the (jack) rabbit hole into another dimension. The whole idea is for Western states to explore increased use of green power. But here: coal is clean, nuclear power is clean, and my favorite?new nuclear plants to crack hydrogen for clean energy fuel stock?are clean. Granted, the states where most of the governors hail from produce coal, as do the several Canadian provinces represented here. The conference is also smack in the middle of Department of Energy territory, with Sandia Labs nearby, as well as other DOE outposts. The labs do solar, wind and geothermal work but have a big footprint in nuclear and coal power. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson announced that he and his ?new best friend?just kidding,? Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, agreed to promote 30,000 MW of new clean energy in the West by 2015 and to increase efficiency by 20 percent by 2020. An April 12 flyer signed by Richardson and Schwarzenegger couched it in these terms: ?Clean energy and energy efficiency could become a significant economic growth center and could help create a national economic growth cycle.? It?s apparently a one-sided agreement, however, as it didn?t even rate a press release from Schwarzenegger?s office, and no details were made available. Still, 30,000 green MW is a laudable goal. But when I asked former secretary of energy Richardson if he and his California counterpart could agree on what green power is, Richardson shrugged. It is really no surprise, as his fellow governors and the prime minister of Alberta promote coal. In addition, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) is a big nuclear power advocate. All the other state leaders admit that California is a weather vane, a leader. They all also admit that California?s actions influence other states?they were all affected by the 2000-01 energy crisis. But they don?t seem to understand fully (Richardson appears to be the exception) that green power in California is a different shade of green than what they are considering in their states. The latter veers into olive and sepia tones. It would be political suicide in California to promote coal or nuclear as clean ?green? energy, but here at the summit such assertions are as acceptable as coyote roadkill. ?Green? technologies being pushed for other Western states include: <ul><li>The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory?s (INEEL) hydrogen initiative. Currently, most hydrogen is produced by steam reforming of methane. ?The current growth in hydrogen demand is already sufficient to justify the development of new, environmentally responsible methods to produce hydrogen using nuclear energy,? notes the lab. ?As the lead laboratory for DOE?s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, the INEEL is ideally positioned for assuming a major role in the development of technologies for the production of hydrogen using nuclear energy.?<\/li> <li>Clean coal for hydrogen, another DOE program. ?Our nation can rely on its abundant coal reserves to produce hydrogen, while capturing CO2 emissions and producing electric power. With significant production of hydrogen from coal, and development of a hydrogen infrastructure, our nation can establish a hydrogen economy,? according to a paper from DOE?s Office of Coal Fuels. The office suggests developing an ?education campaign that communicates the benefits of alternative forms of energy, including hydrogen and fusion.?<\/li> <li>Coal-bed methane promoted by the Governors? Association. ?Coal bed methane represents a key component of our nation?s energy supply and accordingly should continue to be developed,? states a handbook created for this meeting. ?[We] share and encourage the use of best practices that will promote the sound, efficient, and environmentally appropriate development of coal bed methane resources.? The governors say that Rocky Mountain states could have as much as 63 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from coal seams. The wells are better than strip mines for the coal itself, but the governors suggest camouflaging the wells.<\/li><\/ul>Now about those pills?Allegra, these days. There was also something about logic and good fortune, but I?ll have to ask Alice to remind me on the way back to California.