Dear Northeast: How’s that solar working out for you

A reminder from Marita to silly folks on why electricity needs real power plants

Marita Noon

For immediate release: November 24, 2014.

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 2189

Dear Northeast, How’s that solar working out for ya?

A couple of months ago, effective in November, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit.

It’s dramatic headlines like these that make rooftop solar sound so attractive to people wanting to save money. In fact, embedded within the online version of the Boston Globe story: “Electric rates in Mass. set to spike this winter,” is a link to another article: “How to install solar power and save.” The solar story points out: “By now everyone knows that solar power can save homeowners big money on utility bills.” It claims that solar works even in New England’s dreary winters and cites Henry K. Vandermark, founder and president of Solar Wave Energy in Cambridge, as saying: “Even snow doesn’t matter if your panels have a steep angle. It just slides right off them.”

Solar is not the panacea it is promoted to be, though it is true that—after a substantial investment, heavy government subsidies (funded by all taxpayers), and generous net-metering programs (that raise costs for non-solar customers)—solar systems can save money on the typical homeowners’ monthly bill. (An unsubsidized system averages about $24,000.)

New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year—Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts went “dark” on June 1, in part due to tightening federal regulations. Another major closure will take place within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

A new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant on 18 acres of the 65-acre Salem site will replace the Salem Harbor plant. The remaining 47 acres will see redevelopment, including renewable energy. But, that plan has received pushback from environmental groups that want it fully replaced with renewables. The Boston Globe states: “A decade ago, replacing the aging plant with a far cleaner natural gas facility would have thrilled environmental and public health advocates.” The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the project’s approval, claiming the state “failed to adequately consider its own climate change law when state energy officials approved the Salem plant.” In February, the group settled the suit after it caused construction delays and reliability concerns.

Just days before the plant closed, a report from The Daily Climate addressed the controversy over usage of the Salem Harbor site: “Many activists pushed back, arguing for wind or solar generation or non-energy uses, such as a marine biotechnology research facility.” One activist group: HealthLink, “has marshaled opposition to running a gas line to the new plant” and another: Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant (GAASP), “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.”

The state of Massachusetts has offered three closed, or scheduled to be closed, coal-fueled power plant sites $6 million to pursue renewable energy projects—even though wind and solar require full back up from fossil fuel power plants so electricity is available in the frigid Northeast winters. Additionally, a new report from two Stanford Ph.Ds., who spent 4 years trying to prove renewables can, ultimately, replace fossil fuels, have had to admit defeat: “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”

Having lived with the 63-year old Salem Harbor plant in her back yard for 20 years, Linda Haley, doesn’t, according to WGBH News, “understand why Salem would encourage use of a non-renewable fossil-fuel resource like natural gas when alternative investments in green technology finally seem possible.”

These stories reveal the snow job that has been perpetuated on the general public regarding renewable energy. They don’t understand the need for power or how it works. They seem to believe that when a rule passes a magic wand waves replacing older, but still fully functional, power plants with wind or solar—that doesn’t produce electricity 24/7/365 as do the decommissioned coal or nuclear plants and which requires far more land to produce the same amount of, albeit intermittent, electricity.

An iced up wind turbine or a solar panel covered in seven feet of snow—even if some of it slides off—doesn’t generate electricity. And the cold days of a Northeast winter create one of the times when energy demand peaks.

Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the Northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply?

Congress, following the near crisis, brought in utility executives to explain the situation. Regarding the nation’s electrical output last winter, Nicholas Akins, the CEO of the biggest generator of coal-fueled electricity in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP), told Congress: “This country did not just dodge a bullet—we dodged a cannon ball.” Similarly, Michael Kormos, Executive VP of Operations for PJM Interconnection (the largest grid operator in the U.S. overseeing 13 states), commented on operations during the polar vortex: PJM was “never—as some accounts have portrayed—700 megawatts away from rolling blackouts. … On the worst day, January 7, our next step if we had lost a very large generator would have been to implement a small voltage reduction”—industry speak for the last option before power outages.

About last winter’s grid reliability, Glenn Beck claims: “I had an energy guy come to me about three weeks ago. …He said, ‘We were one power plant away from a blackout in the east all winter long… We were using so much electricity. We were at the top of the grid. There’s no more electricity. We’re at the top.’”

This winter’s extreme weather—with new records set for November power demand—has already arrived. Come January, there will be not one, but two fewer Northeast power plants since last year—not because they had to be retired, but because of EPA regulations and public sentiment. In a November 17 op-ed, former Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Judd (R-NH) said: “Vermont Yankee produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather.” The Northeast won’t have Vermont Yankee’s power this January.

Without these two vital power plants, what will the Northeast do?

For several months, since I had a chat with Weather Bell Analytics’ Joe Bastardi at the International Conference on Climate Change, I’ve continued to say that I fear people will have to die due to power outages that prevent them from heating their homes in the winter cold, before the public wakes up to the damage of these policies. AEP’s Atkins seems to agree. He told Columbus Business First: “Truth be known, something’s probably going to have to happen before people realize that there is an issue.”

“New England is in the midst of an energy crisis,” claims WGBH News. The report continues: “residents and businesses are facing a future that may include ‘rolling blackouts’ on days when usage is highest.”

ISO New England, the agency that oversees the power grid, warns, in the Boston Globe: “Boston and northeast Massachusetts are ‘expected to face an electricity capacity shortage’ that could lead to rolling blackouts or the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators—which emit far more pollutants than natural gas—to fill the gap.” Ray Hepper, the lawyer for ISO New England, in a court filing, wrote: “The ISO simply cannot make megawatts of generation materialize that are not on the system.” In an interview, he added: “We’re really, as a region, at the point of needing new power plants.”

As the Salem Harbor story illustrates, natural gas will likely fuel those new power plants and environmental groups are expected to challenge construction. Plus, natural gas faces cost volatility. On November 20, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in the wake of November cold, not experienced since the 1970s when global cooling was predicted, featured an article titled: “Chill pushes up natural-gas prices” that stated: “Natural-gas stockpiles shrank by more than expected last week reflecting surging demand.” As in the ’70s, many are now projecting, based on solar activity and other natural variables, a long global cooling trend.

While the Boston Globe, in September, said: “The upcoming winter is not expected to be as cold as last season,” Bastardi told me otherwise. He said: “This winter could be as cold and nasty as last year and in a worst case go beyond that to some of the great winters of the late 1970s, lasting all the way into April. As it is, we still have a winter comparable to last year forecasted, though the position of the worst, relative to averages, may be further southeast than last year.” During a November 19 appearance with Neil Cavuto, Bastardi suggested that we may see a bit of warming after November, but will have one, or two, very cold months after that.

The WSJ quoted Brian Bradshaw, portfolio manager at BP Capital in Dallas: “‘Everyone thinks it’s not possible’ to have another winter like last year ‘But the weather does impossible things all the time.’” WSJ added: “the natural-gas market is setting up for a repeat of last winter.”

So, why, when natural gas prices sit at historic lows that experts predicted will lower electricity rates, is the Northeast facing double-digit increases? The answer: there is no magic wand. The changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet. Ray Gifford, former commissioner with the Colorado Public Utility Commission, told me: “I don’t see how the gas infrastructure in New England can be built fast enough to replace retiring baseload capacity.”

Within the past decade, natural gas went from supplying less than a fifth of New England’s power to one half—which could be great if New England had natural gas, but it is, as Tim Maverick, Commodities Correspondent for Wall Street Daily, says: “gas-starved.” After last winter’s freezing weather, Maverick wrote: “The Northeast was slapped in the face with the reality that there’s not sufficient pipeline infrastructure to provide it with the mega-energy pull it draws in the colder season. This is probably because not one new pipeline infrastructure has been introduced in over 40 years. Natural gas consumption in the Northeast has grown more than 20% in the last decade, and not one new pipeline has been built. Current pipelines are stuffed and can carry no more supply.”

At the Edison Electric Institute financial conference on November 11, AEP’s Atkins confirmed that the proposed timeline to cut pollution from the EPA will shutter coal plants before completion of construction of new power plants using other fuels, or the infrastructure to move the needed natural gas around.

The lack of available supply, results in higher prices. The Boston Globe explains: “gas supplies for home heating are purchased under long-term contracts arranged far in advance, so utilities have the advantage of locking in lower rates. Power plants, on the other hand, often buy shorter-term and are more exposed to price movements in the spot markets.” In the winter’s cold weather, the gas goes to people’s homes first. Different from coal, which is shipped by train, with a thirty-day supply easily held at the point of use, the switch to natural gas leaves power plants struggling to meet demand, paying higher prices.

Addressing the 2013/2014 winter, Terry Jarrett, a former public service commissioner and a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility, and regulatory issues, said: “Natural gas couldn’t shoulder that burden, due in part to a shortage of infrastructure to deliver gas where it was needed—this despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere. But more importantly, whereas coal’s sole purpose is to generate electricity, natural gas is also used for home heating. And when push comes to shove, heating gets priority over generation.”

Last winter, coal and nuclear met the demand to keep the lights on and heat homes and businesses. AEP reports that 89 percent of its coal plants, now slated for retirement, ran at capacity just to meet the peak demand.

These shortages in the Northeast occur before the implementation of Obama’s Clean Power Plan that experts believe will shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants nationwide by 2016. New pipelines and new plants need to be built, but “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes and environmental activists will probably further delay and prevent construction as they have done in the Northeast, which will result in higher electric bills nationwide.

“Because less-expensive coal generation is retiring and in part is being replaced by demand-response or other potential high energy cost resources, excess generation will narrow and energy prices could become more volatile due to the increasing reliance on natural gas for electricity generation,” PJM’s Kormos told Congress.

The lessons for America’s energy supply learned from the Northeast’s far-reaching experiment, that has only resulted only in price increases and potential energy shortages, are twofold. First, don’t shut down existing supply until the replacement is ready, as legal action and local attitudes can slow its development. Second, you can cover every square inch of available land with wind and solar, but when extreme weather hits, it requires a reliable energy supply, best met by coal and nuclear.

Current policy direction will have all of America, not just the Northeast, freezing in the dark. I hope it can it be turned back before it is too late.

(A version of this content was originally published at Breitbart.com)

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Marita Noon: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

Poster note: There are references in Ms. Noon’s articles about quotes some have made about the mindless fellow who occupies the Oval Office when he is not on Air Force One.  The quotes address his legacy.  Maybe they mean his lack of legacy? Chuck Ring

 

 

This morning, President Obama is scheduled to announce the EPA’s new C02 standards for existing power plants. Last week I attended (via telephone) a press conference the US Chamber of Commerce held announcing its new report regarding the impacts of the new regulations—which are, in essence, cap-and-trade by executive order. That became the launching point for this week’s column: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool (attached and pasted-in-below).

 

As you will discover when you read it, in doing my writing preparation, I’ve read extensively on the topic. In Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool I address some angles and issues not covered elsewhere. (I always figure, if I don’t have something fresh to say on a topic, I don’t need to write on it.)

 

As the announcement is now just a couple hours away, I hope those of you who post my work can get Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool posted ASAP—before the announcement. Please pass it on, too! Thanks!

 

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

For immediate release: June 2, 2014

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

America is poised to become the “no pee” section of the global swimming pool and the useless actions will cost us a bundle—raising energy costs, adding new taxes, and crippling the economy. Even some environmentalists agree. Yet, for President Obama, it’s all about legacy.

 

On Monday, June 2, 2014, the EPA will release its new rules for CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating plants—which the New York Times (NYT) states: “could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants across the country.” (Regulations for new plants: the New Source Performance Standard rule, requiring carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) that buries emissions in the ground to meet the emissions limits, were released September 20, 2013. The 2013 regulations virtually ensure that no new coal-fueled power plants will be built. Bloomberg Businessweek reports: “Considering the one carbon-capture plant being built in the U.S. is massively over budget and widely considered not ready for commercial use, it seems likely that the new rules will significantly erode coal’s share of power generation down the road.” Politifact says CCS is: “new and expensive.”)

 

These new rules, reportedly 3000 pages long (300 pages longer than the healthcare bill), are so important, it is believed that the President will make the announcement himself.

 

Supporters seem gleeful. USA Today cites the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress’ Daniel J. Weiss as saying: “No president has ever proposed a climate pollution clean up this big.” In the Washington Post (WP), advocacy group Clean Air Watch’s director, Frank O’Donnell is quoted as saying: “This is a magic moment for the president—a chance to write his name in the record books.” The NYT claims the plans, “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change,” could: “become one of the defining elements of Mr. Obama’s legacy.” And, Peter Shattuck, director of market initiatives at ENE, a Boston-based climate advocacy and research organization, believes: “This EPA regulation will breathe life into state-level cap-and-trade programs.”

 

While the actual EPA plan has not been released at the time of this writing, it is widely believed that it will follow a March 2013 regulatory proposal put forth by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) which projects 35-40 percent cuts in CO2 emissions over 2012 levels by 2025. Once again, as with endangered species listings and the Keystone pipeline, we see environmental groups driving this administration’s policies.

 

Using the NRDC’s policy framework, on May 28—before the EPA released its new rules—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy released a major study done by the highly respected energy analytics firm IHS: Assessing the Impact of Potential New Carbon Regulations in the United States. It concludes that the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will cost America’s economy over $50 billion a year between now and 2030.

 

A press release about the 71-page report predicts the EPA’s potential new carbon regulations would:

  • Lower U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $51 billion on average every year through 2030,
  • Lead to 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average every year through 2030,
  • Force U.S. consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity through 2030, and
  • Lower total disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030.

 

Addressing the Chamber’s assessment, the Institute’s president and CEO, Karen Harbert, said: “Americans deserve to have an accurate picture of the costs and benefits associated with the Administration’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through unprecedented and aggressive EPA regulations. Our analysis shows that Americans will pay significantly more for electricity, see slower economic growth and fewer jobs, and have less disposable income, while a slight reduction in carbon emissions will be overwhelmed by global increases.”

 

Not surprisingly, the EPA quickly tried to debunk the Chamber’s claims. Tom Reynolds, the EPA’s associate administrator for external affairs, called the report: “Nothing more than irresponsible speculation based on guesses of what our draft proposal will be.” Reynolds continued: “Just to be clear—it’s not out yet. I strongly suggest that folks read the proposal before they cry the sky is falling.”

 

However, the WP states: “While several key aspects of the proposal are still under discussion, according to several people briefed on the matter … the EPA plan resembles proposals made by the Natural Resources Defense Council.” In Grist.com, which calls itself “a source of intelligent, irreverent environmental news and commentary,” Ben Adler, who “covers environmental policy and politics for Grist, with a focus on climate change, energy, and cities,” cites a “video chat” he apparently had with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In his column: “Here’s what to expect from Obama’s big new climate rules,” Adler states: “The agency’s proposed rules will probably roughly follow the model proposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in a March 2013 report.”

 

It is likely that the Chamber’s report is spot on. If, after the regulations are revealed, they are different, the Chamber says it will rerun the models using the new data.

 

Describing the NRDC-based plan, the NYT states: “President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent.” It continues: “People familiar with the rule say that it will set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants, but that it will allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs. Cap-and-trade programs are effectively carbon taxes that place a limit on carbon pollution and create markets for buying and selling government-issued pollution permits.” Note: even the NYT calls cap and trade a carbon tax.

 

The NYT story points to cap-and-trade programs in California and the northeast, which have some of the highest electricity rates in the country. It cites officials of the northeastern regional program who claim: “it has proved fairly effective.” Between 2005 and 2012, the program dropped power-plant pollution by 40 percent, “even as the states raised $1.6 billion in new revenue.” Where did that “new revenue” come from? Higher rates paid by consumers—essentially a tax. Realize that power companies don’t really care about how much the new regulations cost, as they simply pass them on to the end users. In the NYT story, John McManus, vice president of environmental services at American Electric Power, is quoted as saying: “We view cap and trade as having a lot of benefits. … There are a lot of advantages.”

 

Adler explains the cap-and-trade aspect of the new regulations this way: “States could set up their own emissions-trading programs, under which solar and wind facilities would receive credits for each megawatt-hour of energy produced with less than the allowable amount of CO2 and sell those credits to coal plants.” He continues: “economically—and therefore politically and legally—such an approach would carry major risks. A dramatic spike in electricity prices could cause a recession and significant hardship for lower-income families. That, in turn, would likely create a political backlash that would spur Congress to try to revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate CO2. It could even splinter the left, pitting unions, consumer groups, and anti-poverty advocates against the environmental movement. The GOP-controlled House has already voted numerous times to revoke the EPA’s authority, and much higher energy prices might cause some Democrats to join the Republicans.”

 

Bloomberg calls the new rule “politically painful” for Democrats from coal-producing regions “as it forces power-plant closures and threatens to increase electricity rates for consumers.”

 

In response to the Daily Kos reporting on the new EPA regulations, a reader, John in Cleveland, commented: “if the regulations are enough to get a good number of coal plants shut down we had better brace for impact because people’s heating/electric bills are going to increase. … People are going to be pissed when their bills go up, and they will go up.”

 

The Kos reports: “Obama has said he wants the existing plant rule in place by the time a new president takes the oath of office in January 2017”—though many in Congress, including coal-state Democrats, are asking that the 60-day comment period be extended to 120 and, as the WP points out, lawsuits are likely.

 

The Kos reader rightly points out: “As long as China and India are allowed to spew as much carbon as they want into the air it is going to be near impossible to rally this country behind anything that means higher prices that doesn’t do anything to solve the problem.”

 

The Chamber reports that global emissions are expected to rise by 31 percent between 2011 and 2030, yet, all the pain—economic and political—the new regulations will inflict “would only reduce overall emissions levels by just 1.8 percentage points.”

 

Defending the NRDC plan, David Hawkins, director of climate programs, is quoted in Grist: “Power plants don’t operate in a vacuum. The energy they produce is fungible.” The same is true for the emissions. The U.S. can adopt these draconian regulations, but the U.S. doesn’t operate in a vacuum. The emissions are fungible.

 

Bloomberg states: “The administration and its Democratic allies are bracing for a political fight over the rule, which is critical to Obama’s legacy on climate and his efforts to coax other nations to agree.” USA Today cites David Doniger, NRDC’s policy director and senior attorney for NRDC’s climate and clean air program in Washington, DC: “the EPA rules will show the United States is ‘in the game’ and will help nudge other countries to make reductions.”

 

Should we be “in the game” when the other major developed countries have quit playing? Australia has already walked away from its previous administration’s stringent climate policies due to economic pain and public backlash. Germany is becoming more dependent on coal-fueled electricity. Wood is the number one renewable fuel in Europe. Following what has already taken place in England and much of Europe, on May 31, it was announced that Spain is cutting back on its green energy programs. China and India have repeatedly refused to cripple their growing economies by cutting back on their fossil fuel-based energy usage.

 

The U.S. may be “in the game” alone. All the regulations the administration may impose will not “nudge” the rest of the world to follow. Just because we declare that we won’t pee in the pool, won’t stop the others. And, just like the water in the pool, CO2 emissions are fungible.

 

We’ll be stuck in our little no-pee section with a crippled economy while the rest of the world will be frolicking in unfettered growth. As chlorine, filters and other processes make public pools safe for swimming, scrubbers and other pollution controls have already dramatically cleaned up the air in America. But Obama needs his legacy—and that will be, as House Speaker John Boehner said: “every proposal that comes out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs.”

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Marita Goes To New York

Link to: Three hours of Waterboarding

I have to dash off to court for a speeding ticket and to prove I have insurance—which I could not find proof of when the officer stopped me. So, I am getting this out a bit early today.

This week’s column, Three hours of Waterboarding (attached and pasted-in-below) is a bit long, I know. I’ll have a hard time editing it down for the newspapers. But it combines two things: the story of my taping for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (which lots of people have been asking about) and the real content about fracking and how the left works. I hope you will find it to be an interesting read. Please post, pass on and/or personally enjoy: Three hours of Waterboarding.

Marita Noon

Marita Noon, Executive Director

EnergyMakesAmericaGreat Inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Three hours of Waterboarding

On Thursday, February 27, I received an email that said: “I’m a producer at the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. We’re working on a segment about fracking & I wanted to reach out to see if you’d be interested in participating. I read your column in Town Hall a few months ago & it’s just what we’re looking for—we’d like to have someone dispel a lot of the myths & untruths about fracking.” I responded that, yes, I was interested. After doing my research, I agreed to participate.

On March 6, I flew to New York City for a taping on March 7. I knew that the Daily Show is a comedy show masquerading as a news program. My peers told me horror stories of how the show had treated others whose views didn’t mesh with those of Jon Stewart—not that the guests were personally abused, but that the final product didn’t represent what was really said during the taping. I weighed the pro and cons and decided to take the risk. I figured that no matter how good I might be, I was unlikely to change the opinions of the young audience that watches the Daily Show and thinks it is real news. Additionally, my audience doesn’t generally watch it—and if they do, they’ll know my comments were heavily edited, as my views are well known. What really pushed me to accept the invitation was the fact that the following week, March 10-13, I was scheduled to be in Southern California speaking on college campuses and my Daily Show taping would enhance my “street-cred” with the potential audiences.

I knew I was not the first person to whom they had reached out. Others had turned them down. If I said “no,” they’d continue down some list until they found someone who’d say yes. I figured it might as well be me because I know that I know my topic. I know I will represent it accurately. The next person on the list might not be as well informed.

I expected that they’d try to spring something on me and make me look foolish. Based on the pre-taping interviews, I felt that I had a sense of where the interview would go. They had a few questions about which I was unsure. I sent an email to the several thousand people on my enewsletter list asking for input on specific questions. Many sent me helpful information that I read on the plane on the way to New York. I talked to industry experts. I studied up as if I was heading in for a final exam. I wanted to be sure they couldn’t trip me up.

When I walked into the offices of the Daily Show, I felt that I was ready. I told them: “I know your job is to make me look bad, but mine is to be sure I look good.” I wore a favorite red silk blouse with gold jewelry.

The team was very kind to me. They shot some “B roll” of Aasif, the correspondent who’d be doing the interview, and me walking toward the room where the taping would take place and some of me working at a computer. I was escorted to a dark, dreary-looking room with camera and sound guys, and Jena, the producer.

The interview started straight enough. They asked one of the questions they’d asked via telephone: “Why do environmentalists hate fracking?” I explained that I didn’t think it was really about fracking, as thousands, if not millions, of wells had been drilled using hydraulic fracturing since modern techniques were developed in 1949. I pointed out that a primitive form of fracking was done in the late 1800s when a nitro glycerin torpedo was dropped down a well hole. Despite this long, safe, and prosperous history the frack attacks had started in October 2007—shortly after the technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling were successfully combined and began to unleash America’s new energy abundance.

I continued: It is not really about fracking. It is about fossil fuels—and hating them. The average person doesn’t have a clear understanding of the role that energy plays in their lives (which is why I do what I do). All most people know about energy is the price of gasoline and they know “drill, baby, drill.” They know that increased production of oil translates to lower prices at the pump. So the anti-fossil fuel crowd can’t come out with an anti-drilling campaign, but they can use a term that sounds scary and that people do not understand: fracking—the vernacular for hydraulic fracturing.

To prove my point, I told about driving through Starbuck’s two days earlier. I’d bantered with Jason, the young man selling me my Café Mocha. I told him I was going to New York for the Daily Show to talk about fracking; that they’d have a pro-fracking guest and an anti-fracking guest; that I was the pro-fracking guest. He replied: “Whatever that is.”

Because people, like Jason, do not know what fracking is, the antis can give it whatever definition they want and use fear, uncertainty, and doubt to turn people against the proven technology that is almost singly responsible for creating millions of jobs in America and bringing us closer to energy independence than previously ever thought possible. In a recent Fracking by the Numbers report, on page 6, Environment America offers a definition that basically covers the entire drilling process from permitting to production—including “to deliver the gas or oil produced from that well to market.”

Once they had scared people, those against fracking set out to stop the procedure—with the ultimate goal of banning it all together. Since 96-98% of all oil-and-gas wells drilled in the U.S. today are stimulated using hydraulic fracturing, banning fracking essentially bans oil-and-gas production.

I backed up my opinions by citing the November 2013 elections where four towns in Colorado and three in Ohio had fracking bans on the ballot. All passed in Colorado and one in Ohio. Earlier in 2013, the commissioners in the little county of Mora, NM, voted to ban all oil-and-gas drilling outright—not just fracking (however, the Los Angeles Times coverage of the Mora County story called it a fracking ban—illustrating how the two concepts, drilling and fracking, have become interchangeable). Even though some of the communities voting to ban fracking have no potential oil-and-gas drilling, the wins provide momentum for a national movement. In a press release celebrating the Mora County vote—which also calls it a fracking ban—the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the group fomenting opposition in Mora County, said: “Mora County joins over 150 communities across the country which have asserted their right to local self-governance through the adoption of local laws that seek to control corporate activities within their municipality.” In January, 2014, left-wing advocacy group MoveOn.org heralded its “#FrackingFighter” campaign in which it calls for “grassroots organizing and people power to beat back big industry in town after town and county after county.” They declare: “now it’s time to double down on our strategy.”

Aasif asked about fracking accidents. I asserted that there were none that I was aware of and cited the fact that three leading Obama Administration secretaries—hardly fossil-fuel fans—had declared fracking to be safe: former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and current Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

Now, in hour three of what I told the crew was like three hours of waterboarding where they kept throwing stuff at me in hopes I’d give something up, the tone changed. Suddenly, Aasif repeatedly asked me about pizza and whether it was appropriate compensation for a “fraccident.” I stopped and told them: “I will not say that word.” Since I was not aware of any fracking accidents, I wasn’t going to let them get me on camera saying “fraccident.” He pushed on anyway and carried on about how wonderful New York pizza was. Surely, it would be appropriate compensation for a “fraccident” that caused a four-day fire and killed one person. No, it wouldn’t. I offered: “The courts have established damages for loss of life and loss of property.” He continued with the pizza theme. Somewhere in there, he mentioned Chevron. Frustrated, I finally said something to the effect of: “If the person who’d received the damages wanted pizza, then yes, it would be appropriate.”

When we were about to wrap, they thanked me and, on camera, gave me a pizza.

Later I received an email from the producer who’d invited me saying: “Thanks again for coming out for this interview. I hope it wasn’t too silly! Aasif & Jena thought you were great, though.”

On the plane on the way home, I reflected on the experience and deduced what they were up to. I sent the producer a follow up email: “I am glad that Aasif and Jena thought I was great. I told them it felt like three hours of waterboarding. I can’t wait to see what you all do with it. I am assuming that you are going to do a fake news story on a fracking/drilling accident that results in a four-day fire and one death and the evil oil company offers pizza as compensation. You will have me saying that there has never been a fracking accident that I know of. Then you have me saying, yes, I watch the news…”

Once I was back at my desk, I did a search on Chevron, accident, and pizza. The story came up. It wasn’t a fake accident, but it also wasn’t a “fraccident.” While the exact cause of the Greene County, PA, well fire is still under investigation, the local news reported: “Chevron had previously completed drilling and hydraulically fracturing, or fracking, the well and was in the final stages of using steel pipe to hook it up to a pipeline distribution network for production.”  The Pennsylvania Depart of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Scott Perry stated: “the problem may have come from a defect in the wellhead itself. Chevron’s wellheads are ringed with collars that have set pins running horizontally through them.” Perry says one of the pins may have blown out of the collar, releasing the gas.

Apparently, according to the DEP the “gas well explosion is the first serious Marcellus shale well blowout in our region.” Houston-based Wild Well Control, which responded to the Greene County accident, says in the past year it responded to five-surface well blowouts accompanied by fires. The statistics suggest major fires are relatively rare.

The accident referenced by the Daily Show, took place in a rural area and no homes were endangered. But Chevron realized that the increased truck traffic and other activities inconvenienced the folks of Bobtown. In an effort to be a “good partner” in the community, Chevron offered vouchers to the only eatery within 80 miles. While the locals aren’t upset with Chevron for the gesture, saying: “The whole issue was blown out of proportion,” comedians have had a field day with it and the anti-fossil fuel crowd is using it for messaging. A petition has been started at MoveOn.org (surprise) demanding that Chevron apologize for the free pizza—calling it “an insult.” There are currently 1200+ signatures, mostly from distant locales, but none from Bobtown. Local resident Gloria Garnek commented on the contrived controversy and the coupons: “People here, you know, we were kind of overwhelmed a little bit with all the publicity and people coming in. So I think it’s a nice thing.”

Thank you, Daily Show, for flying me to New York and taking good care of me while I was in town. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about hydraulic fracturing and alerting me to Bobtown Pizza. Without the March 7 taping, I wouldn’t have told the story of the anti-fossil fuel crowd’s efforts to ban fracking and exploit the good people of Bobtown.

While it felt like three hours of waterboarding, I believe I’ve been able to make some good come from the experience. I can’t wait to see how they turn three hours of recording into a 3-5 minute segment when it airs in late March or early April.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Conspiracy Brews 6/15/13

If you like your coffee and your politics flavorful, served with a heaping dose of civility by a diverse group of interesting people from all parts of the political spectrum then you should be joining us every Saturday.  Started in 2007 over coffee and lively conversation by a group of concerned friends and neighbors, ‘Conspiracy Brews’ is committed to finding solutions to some of our State’s toughest problems. Our zest for constructive political discourse is only equaled by our belief that the only way forward is to exchange our views in a relaxed and friendly setting.   For additional information or to be added to our e-mail list contact:  ConspiracyBrews@aol.com.

Conspiracy Brews  

 

Not your average political discussion group!

June 15, 2013

9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
at
Southwest Secondary Learning Center

10301 Candelaria Rd NE
(northwest corner of Candelaria and Morris)

We think that government should be open and honest at all times.
People from all political parties are welcome.

 *** Quotes of the Week ***

“The way we see the problem is the problem.”

Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

 “So this is how liberty dies.  With thunderous applause.”

George Lucas (Senator Amidala in ‘Star Wars:  Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)

 

Suggested Topics

 

Chris Matthews is your leg still tingling?  Perhaps it’s a bug?

Has anyone heard Lujan Grisham speak out about the feds?

– What will it take to wake up Rip Van Winkle NM that we are spiraling?

 

 (Light Quotes of the week)

“Parents were invented to make children happy by giving them something to ignore.”

Ogden Nash

“Like I always say, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.  There is a ‘me’, though if you jumble it up.”

David Shore (House M.D., DNR, 2004)

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”

Lucille Ball
——-

 
 

Pay Attention Or Reap The Consequences

By the end of an Obama second term, 40% of our natural resources will be imported

Marita Noon

 During a recent trip to Washington DC, I heard that “by the end of his second term, President Obama wants 40% of our natural resources to be imported.” Like Harry Reid’s “Bain Capital investor,” my source is reliable: a Capitol Hill staffer. While I do not have a secret White House memo to validate the premise, it explains a lot.

Oil

During his 2008 campaign, candidate Obama made it clear that he doesn’t have a problem with $4-a-gallon gas. His Energy Secretary is on record as having said that he thinks our gasoline prices should be more in line with those of Europe–which are typically more than double ours in the US. We know that supply issues are one of the leading drivers of higher gasoline prices, yet Obama’s policy decisions–such as Keystone–lead to reducing the resource.

In his first campaign ad of the season, President Obama touted his record on oil, claiming that we have more domestic production in America than at any time in recent history. While this is true, it is not thanks to his policies. The majority of the oil extraction is on private land, mostly thanks to North Dakota’s Bakken Field. The development that is being done on federal lands is thanks to leases made and wells permitted during the Bush administration.

New oil and gas leases and permits on federal land are down 50% under the Obama administration compared to the Clinton administration. Because of the time it takes to bring a federal lease into production (5-10 years)–especially with the Obama Department of Interior policies, he is likely setting the US up for an oil shortage (even without Middle Eastern unrest) by the end of a potential second term that will send gasoline prices past his acceptable $4 a gallon, toward Secretary Chu’s “European levels.” With a dearth of new American oil development, we’ll need to import more from places like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

Coal

Candidate Obama’s comment about bankrupting anyone wanting to build a coal-fueled power plant is now widely known. His EPA’s actions surely support the statement as we are seeing record power plant closures. But it is not just power generation that is under attack, it is the extraction of the source fuel: coal, as well. Earlier this year, the EPA’s decision to pull a legally issued coal-mining permit that had been through years of environmental impact studies and analysis was overturned by the US District Court. Last week, his EPA was shot down once again. On July 31, the DC district court sided with coal miners. The decision declared that the EPA’s insistence that water discharged from a coal mine be clearer than bottled water was an overreach and should not hold up new mining permits.

While blocking new coal mining will probably not cause the US to import coal, it will prevent us from exporting it. Currently coal is a major export–one of our few exports–that helps bring a balancing element to our trade deficit.

Rare Earth Elements

On March 13, President Obama announced that the US was joining with Japan and the European Union to file a trade complaint before the World Trade Organization in Brussels to insure that China keeps exporting rare-earth elements. These unique elements, with names like neodymium, europium and dysprosium are what the Japanese call the “seeds of technology” due to their astounding electrical, magnetic, phosphorescent, catalytic, and chemical capabilities. While most Americans are unaware of their existence, rare earths enable everything high-tech we use today–from MRIs, cellphones and iPods to hybrid automobiles and wind turbines–and are extremely important to today’s high-tech defense capabilities.

President Obama is going after China because the Chinese produce more than 95% of all rare earths used in the world by high-tech industry, while sitting on only 23% of the world’s resources. Obama insists that the Chinese continue to ship rare earths to the rest of the world’s economies despite the fact that the Chinese require the use of essentially all of their rare-earth production in Chinese industries.

The Chinese had announced, in 2011, they could become net importers of some of the most critical rare earths by 2015. But in July, they said they would be importers a year sooner–in 2014. And on top of that, the Chinese are creating a national rare-earths stockpile, shutting down production from the worst polluters, and tacking on higher tariffs for those rare earths they will export.

We don’t need a protracted legal hassle in Brussels that won’t produce a single American job or a pound of rare earth produced from America. The solution is streamlined and accelerated permitting, recognizing that American miners and manufacturers employ the world’s best environmental scientists and engineers and geologists. Instead of paying lawyers to push paper in Brussels, we need to be creating jobs from mining and the upgrading of rare earths in America, providing a secure domestic source of these vital “seeds of technology.”

Land Access

Early in President Obama’s first term, he announced his intention to increase the quantity of national monuments and introduced a new “wild lands” designation–both of which serve to limit the extraction of natural resources. Two such cases I’ve repeatedly addressed are the proposed tungsten mine in Montana and the swath of land that extends from the Mexican border up into rich farming/ranching land that also includes potential oil, gas, and rare-earth extraction in New Mexico.

In the Montana case, the Forest Service continually throws obstacles to extraction in the way of potential mining activity. Because the tungsten–needed for the manufacture of steel–is located in an inventoried roadless area, the Forest Service has mandated that, among other things, the site must be cleared and, later reclaimed, with hand tools. The drilling equipment must be hauled to the site with a team of pack mules which must be fed certified weed-free hay–all this to move equipment less than 1000 feet from a Forest Service road. If the case were not so tragic, so representative of similar stories being played out all over America, it would be comical.

In the New Mexico case, ranchers and farmers fear being thrown off of land that has been in their family for generations. With a simple stroke of President Obama’s executive-order pen he could remove 2.5 million acres–though 600,000 is the number generally bandied about–from any economic development or useful purpose by creating a new national monument.

Natural Gas

The current verbiage coming out of the White House favors natural gas extraction–but actions speak louder than words. America’s new found natural gas abundance is made possible through the use of multi-stage hydraulic fracturing–which Obama’s EPA has, unsuccessfully, been trying to link to the contamination of drinking water. Plus, we know that much of Obama’s energy policy is driven by an environmentalist agenda–with the Keystone pipeline being the most obvious example.

A few weeks ago, the Sierra Club announced its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign attacking natural gas, saying “The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok,” and “the closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be.” With this in mind, by the end of an Obama second term, we can expect the availability of natural gas to be diminished–and what we will have will be far more expensive, driving up the price of what is currently low-cost electricity generation.

Nuclear

We may not think of electricity as a natural resource, but effective, efficient, economical electricity generation requires natural resources: coal, natural gas, uranium, and, occasionally, oil. Uranium is the source fuel for nuclear power and we have an abundance of it in America–yet we import more than 90% of what we use. A couple of days ago, it was announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “would stop issuing licenses for nuclear plants until it addresses problems with its nuclear-waste policy.” The “problems with nuclear-waste” are a direct result of White House policy. The Obama administration effectively shut down Yucca Mountain with a 2009 decision to reduce Yucca Mountain’s budget. This new problem for nuclear power has the potential to impact many US reactors.

In Germany, they used to export their nuclear-generated electricity. Since they shut down nearly half of their reactors, they are importing electricity from other countries.

Export or Import

Former Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee has been out talking about getting the economy “revved up.” Part of his solution? “More exports.” The goal should be to have 100% of our natural resources to come from within our shores. Yet, as you can see, the Obama plan seems to call for more natural resource imports. 40% by 2016 adds up.

The countries with the best human health and the most material wealth are the countries with the highest energy consumption. So, why is it that Obama’s policies push us to use less energy, while paying more for it?

As we head toward the November 6 Election Day, keep in mind the stark contrast the satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night points out–the country without freedom, North Korea, is dark. With nothing separating them but an invisible line and a vastly different style of government, South Korea, the free-market, democratic, and developed country is bright.

Which do you want?

Do you want a bright future badly enough to step out of your comfort zone and talk to friends, family and neighbors; to talk to them about energy and its importance? Take the points made here and share them in good, old-fashioned conversations, and through new media like Facebook and Twitter.

We are down to 8 weeks to save America. Can we do it? With your engagement, “yes, we can!”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE).Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands w...

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. White House Photo, 3/30/09 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)