You’re Lights May Be Flickering!

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

In Boston, a large Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) barge is docked to provide a supplemental source of energy to help keep the lights on. Originating in Russia, that supply is badly needed because activists in Massachusetts and New Hampshire successfully halted pipe line projects they felt would lock them into “fossil fuel dependence for decades.”   

A bizarre solution given the vast amount of the product within our borders. The Russian LNG comes from their new $27 billion terminal operated by Yamal LNG, a joint venture with Novated (on the Treasury Departments financial sanctions list), France’s Total, and China’s CNPC. So much for making “America Great Again.”  

Locally, a group on Montauk residents stopped the building of a sub-station (on parkland) regardless of the needs of 6,000 residents. Without approval emergency generation will be required raising rates.    

In November of 2017, President Trump announced plans to build Phase IV of the Keystone XL pipeline bringing thousands of gallons of oil from Canada to Baker, Montana, Steele City, Neb. eventually connecting to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. Activists again prevailed, and a U.S. District Judge ruled the project failed to comply with federal environmental regulations. 

In our own backyard, referencing a recent WSJ column titled “Cuomo vs. New York” our governor continues to curry favor with extremist environmental groups, (1) banning drilling for natural gas in the rich Utica and Marcellus Shale upstate. (2) closing in 2022, the Indian Point Nuclear Facility, (3) stopping the construction of oil rigs in our offshore waters. (4) stopping the approval of three natural gas pipelines needed by Con Edison, and (5) the permit rejection of a 23-mile gas pipeline across New York Bay to Long Island, because it would “stir-up harmful sediments and disturb shellfish beds.”

Add to the list Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) comment that “we have to get rid of farting cows” that release large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide.       

All of above can be placed in one blender. Divide and conquer to protect embedded self- interest’s, state against state, neighbor against neighbor, leadership eviscerated and compromised for political gain, with social media and cable news acting as an echo chamber.   

If this folly further dictates policy, we’re in big trouble. A realistic, future energy platform must rest on the best possible mixture of resources (1) combustible fossil fuels, (2) nuclear power and (3) renewable energy. Sorting this out is not complicated. The use of coal makes no sense at all with carbon dioxide (CO2) nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide emissions etc. posing major health concerns. Oil is not a concern, with little used to power electric utilities. Natural gas (the cleanest burning hydrocarbon) is a foundation resource with both nuclear power and renewables currently re-energizing the market place.     

Need convincing, a European Union Environmental agency report states. “The use of natural gas, low carbon nuclear and renewables continues to dominate, supplying 55% of the power resources needed.” France leads all European Union countries with 58 power reactors in operation, thirty-four of which constructed in the 1970’s and early 80’s. 18 are located on their coastlines.

Some changes are evident. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that a carbon-tax will be imposed on the production of greenhouse gas emissions; and our state legislature might approve legislation to have 70% of our electricity needs coming from renewables by 2030. Our current level is 36%. Trend setting?  An obvious need exits to nudge businesses to move toward renewables and let the markets react.  

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