A Rational Energy Policy Would Make Renewables a Priority

by Duane Nichols on December 12, 2017

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas!

Natural Gas – Wrong Start for America

Essay by S. Tom Bond, Jane Lew, Lewis County, WV, December 8, 2017

When I got to I-79 this morning, a truck carrying one of the propellers for a wind electrical generator held me up. It has been a while since that happened last time. At one time they came through once a week or more. On the other hand, increased activity of the companies with designs on the Marcellus-Utica is quite apparent.

Wind power is, right now, the cheapest source of electrical power. Nebraska produces enough to supply its entire need, right now. Solar is making exponential gains with some 5500 schools, and you can find figures for many large corporations such as Walmart, 145 megawatts, Target, 147.5 MW, Apple, 93.9 MW and Prologis, 107.8 MW. These figures are a year old, now they doubtless generate more of their own power.

Natural gas was once advertised as a “transition fuel,” but it is clear its exponents don’t have that in mind any more. That is the reason for the big pipelines we hear so much about. That kind of investment means they expect to extract every bit of natural gas possible, and turn it into carbon dioxide, climate effects be damned. Confusion about climate science is not among serious investigators, but a subterfuge financed by the carbon dioxide generators. An honest “transition fuel” industry would be thinking about making the present infrastructure last to be superseded by what everyone knows must come. They wouldn’t be dumping in vast new investment.

The Saudi’s know what’s coming, they are industriously developing solar, which they have in abundance, in hopes of selling their oil elsewhere, even at very low prices. The Chinese know what’s coming, they are leading in the solar revolution. They don’t have the infrastructure to develop gas, and their dense population in the Eastern portions of the country inhibits it. We use solar in the U. S. for remote locations, even the gas companies use solar for some purposes to avoid batteries and buiding electrical lines. Dominion has one on my farm, and I use solar for part of my electric fence.

What allows this foolishness on the part of natural gas owners? It is a branch of the petroleum industry, and the U. S. was a leader in that development. Our oil was easy to get, and gas was a by-product. Eventually pipes were developed enough to move the gas, and it was convenient to use where it could be piped. It still is, of course. Oil was exported for decades generating huge profits. The geology is now well known, and conventional oil and gas, which lies in interconnected pores in rock is pretty well exhausted.

The unconventional gas lies in pores that are not interconnected. The Marcellus and Utica formations, for example, must be crushed to let the gas out. That is the origin of the name “fracking,’” for fracturing the rock. Yields are around 6-7% of the gas in the rock, just a small fraction of conventional yields. Recent yield increases reported for unconventional wells is due to lengthing the fractured well length, not to increased recovery to the gas in place.

The petroleum industry is mature, investment intense, and by now, low labor. Compare that to solar and wind, which are relatively labor intensive. When you buy solar, the money invested goes to people who install it, not to remote investors.

The petroleum industry is mature in still another sense. It has a vast reservoir of favorable legislation and government policy. It has influence on new law and current policy, including enforcement. In my youth, coal strippers met enforcement officers with a cigar with a one hundred dollar bill wrapped around it. (That would be about nine hundred twenty five dollars today.) Petroleum influence today is less conspicuous than that, but just as powerful.

In addition to the broad attack on science, some companies are trying to get around free speech provisions of the Constitution to attack protestors. Some use eminent domain for private profit, and some ignore laws about water contamination. All make surface unusable for some other use later. On of my favorites abuses is taking pipeline rights of way for very rewarding gains, but leaving the farmer to pay all land tax. He looses use of the land except for grazing, and the right of way never returns to the land. What is the company planning to do with it after the pipeline is no longer used? Speculate on it, of course!

This expansion of natural gas can only inhibit conversion to renewable energy. For the country, and the world as a whole, this may be the worst effect. We in the U. S. ought to be leaders in developing renewables. We have the science. However, China is gaining. It is reported they have 500,000 engineers in training. No doubt they have the ability to manufacture more cheaply, plus they have the rare earth elements current solar panels require. The U. S. must buy them from China.

Investment should be going into development for the future, not dragging the U. S. in to a position that makes the change more difficult. But that is what is going on with investment and with government at the present time.

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Joshua Hill December 21, 2017 at 2:18 am


Rick Perry Gives FERC Reprieve Over Coal & Nuclear Bailout Amidst Allegations Of Undue Coal Industry Influence

From Joshua S Hill, Clean Technia, December 12th, 2017

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has granted the country’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 30 more days to review his proposal to bail out the coal and nuclear industry’s at the same time that The Washington Post has obtained material that shows Perry may be acting at the behest of the coal industry.

In early October, Secretary Perry filed a proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which essentially seeks to subsidise coal and nuclear power plants based on an unsupported belief that the two technologies serve to provide grid stability, as opposed to the idea that renewable energy sources weaken grid security.

“A reliable and resilient electrical grid is critical not only to our national and economic security, but also to the everyday lives of American families,” said Secretary Perry said at the time. “A diverse mix of power generation resources, including those with on-site reserves, is essential to the reliable delivery of electricity — particularly in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters. My proposal will strengthen American energy security by ensuring adequate reserve resource supply and I look forward to the Commission acting swiftly on it.”

Of course, his base assumptions bear no real resemblance to reality and the proposal has received harsh opposition from most everyone, including 12 energy industry associations and FERC Commissioners past and present.

As of this week, Secretary Perry has granted FERC an extra 30 days to make its decision, while at the same time repeating his claims that the coal and nuclear industries require immediate aid “in light of serious threats to the nation’s electricity grid” — threats that Perry doesn’t actually enumerate. Secretary’s letter (PDF) to FERC serves to thoroughly muddy the reality of the situation by repeatedly warning of “urgent” threats to the nation’s electricity supplies and ignoring the weight of countless opponents’ arguments against his proposal. If nothing else, I think someone should buy Secretary Perry a thesaurus so he can use a word other than “urgent” (four times) in his letter.

The letter is dated December 8, the same day that the The Washington Post revealed a meeting taken between Secretary Perry and Robert E. Murray, founder of mining giant Murray Energy and a major Trump supporter, less than 4 weeks after he took office. According to the Post, Murray presented the Secretary with a 4-page “action plan” that detailed a plan to rescue the coal industry by replacing commissioners at independent regulatory agencies, slashing staff at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and overturning safety and pollution rules.

The Post quotes Murray as complaining that under the former President Barack Obama, environmental regulators had written rules and regulations with “38 times the words in our Holy Bible” — a statistic that couldn’t say more about the situation if they had tried. (Note: I am a Christian and love the Bible, but I have no idea how many words are in it.)

It is not difficult to see the conspiracy theorists’ red-string between Secretary Perry’s meeting with Murray in March and his October proposal to FERC seeking subsidies for unsupported claims regarding the coal and nuclear industries. This is not even the first time Trump Cabinet members have been found to be meeting with the fossil fuel industry’s representatives, as we saw from EPA chief Scott Pruitt earlier this year.


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