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Posted By webbie,
Mar 24, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Life is full of risk. With out risk there is usually no reward.
The question is, who is really getting rewarded? Customers or shareholders?
And its always going to be decades away unless we swallow hard and invest now.
The technology is there. Its even (finally) becoming cost effective especially if the "true" costs of fossil fuel production and usage are considered.
The gas companies are the ones rewarded. The price of gas is down and the landowners, who share the risk, are getting $2 / thousand cubic ft for their gas. The gas companies are working on pipe lines to the Chesapeak area and Boston where it can be liquified. They can then sell the gas overseas for added value at $12-$14 per thousand. The gas company makes money, the land owner makes a little, owns the risk, is stuck with the problems during construction, and later as the gas wells age and leak. The gas is sold to the highest bidder and does not necessarily help the US offset foreign oil. Natural gas, while promoted as a clean fuel, is not, so we lose there too (though it does burn cleaner). As usual, it's the internationally owned oil conglomerates who reap the benefits.
The next question is, who picks up the bill for unintended consequences and collateral damage?
we can just get those asbestos companies to pay for the clean-up. plenty of things have been thrown at us for decades with the "its all safe" mantra. Leaded gas, thalidomide, CFC's, nutrasweet....all good. Find me the drilling company exec that has his house on top of a field, and drinks the well water. Not trying to mock you Lee, I just have little faith in the powers that control the $$.
National Academy of Science estimates the human health impacts of coal, gas and oil costs $120 Billion annually in the US alone. Are you happy with all the exemptions to the clean air and safe water acts that these industries have bribed and lobbied for? Is this an acceptable cost for cheap energy? Seems like a pretty serious boat anchor on the economy to me.
Does anyone have sound practical solutions, for the energy need's of our country.
Keeping in mind reliability, availability,afordability.
Solar and wind where we can and as fast as we can, with coal then to nuclear as we smooth out the bumps. Natural gas for peak demand till we smarten up the grid. More trains than trucks, more telecommuting than commuting, and a reasonable expectation of what energy really costs. An electric car will be heads and shoulders abover ICE in terms of reliability. As far as practical we could increase the tax rebate to $20,000 and cut out energy trade deficit.
What I find interesting is the thought that once we stop using gasoline we're just going to start exporting it, so what's the sense in that?
A 2011 study by Synapse Energy Economics compared electricity generation in a "business as usual" scenario to a "transition scenario" where energy efficiency and renewable energy are significantly increased, natural gas use is decreased, coal use is eliminated by 2050, and nuclear power is reduced by 26%. The transition scenario would actually result in a net savings of 83 billion dollars over 40 years. Under the business as usual scenario, carbon dioxide emissions rise 26% over 2010 levels by 2040. Under the transition scenario, carbon dioxide emissions decrease 81% over 2010 levels by 2040. http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org/media/pdfs/Toward%20a%20Sustainable%20Future%2011-16-11.pdf
Now, I'm not sure that this can actually be pulled off...certainly not in our political climate, but this study is a start.
The owners of the country are invested in the business as usual scenario. If we don't burn coal a lot of people who count will lose.
Sounds pretty good, I would get rid of coal as fast as I could.
The one thing we can do right now is reduce consumption and conserve. It's the cheapest short term solution. We're starting to do this with better CAFE standards, home insulation programs, CFL lighting etc.. Freight is shifting more toward rail which is much more efficient. Solar is making very good progress also. Prices have come down and will come down significantly more in the near future. We are also coming up with ways to dramatically increase the output in a given area. And there are some interesting industrial, large scale battery system proposals that will make large scale storage more practical. As our grid infrastructure improves we will be better able to redistribute solar and wind from desert and central US areas to the coasts.
Could not agree more.
I think that conservation and efficiency are by far the best opportunities both short term and long term.
We've cut our energy use for our home (electricity and space heating) and for our car transportation by more than half. This was relatively easy to do, and its saving us about $5000 in energy costs per year. It seems to me its the big often overlooked and easy solution.
These are the projects we used: http://www.builditsolar.com/References/Half/Projects.htm -- nothing exotic and mostly inexpensive with very short paybacks. Solar is great and we have both solar thermal and solar electric, but there is no way it even comes close to the kind of savings you can get with much cheaper conservation and efficiency projects.
I think the problem is that there is not a lot of money to be made in this area, so it gets less attention.
Your page that you linked to is a great read. I wish you could measure how much energy it (and the rest of your site) has saved people. I think you'd be shocked if you did. I know I was amazed personally when I just used information from your site and went through my house with a $20 kill-a-watt meter and dropped my electricity usage by a third.
This page from the US Dept of Energy makes it obvious why saving energy, especially in home heating and cooling (and especially in older building stock) is probably the biggest bang for the buck.
On a state level, here in NY, we're starting to see some interesting research being done on home energy conservation. This is one state funded study, which was a kind of no-holes-barred approach to deep energy retrofits on 3 houses selected in Utica.
It's being followed up by a study by a couple of Ithaca companies on a lower cost approach to the same goal, and hopefully a standardized approach to deep energy retrofits. This kind of research should offer some standardized approaches to building envelope improvement even if the goal is not a a complete deep energy retrofit.
Now if the state would just open their eyes to the REAL cost of developing the Marcellus shale gas using unconventional drilling practices...
There are a couple of recipients of "rewards" who I forgot. The lawyers in Pa and NY are doing a booming business representing the gas companies and the landowner coalitions.
The DEP and other government groups in Pa are making a pretty good buck fining the gas companies for violations (around 3500 in Pa alone in a 2 or 3 year period).
The pro gas development politicians are making out well with contributions from gas interests. Read page # 10 from this publication. It shows the gas related political contributions for just this one representative from near where I live (who incidentally is very vocal in his support of gas development). I'm not necessarily stating that this publication I referenced is impartial or anything resembling that, just that political contributions are public knowledge, so I believe the list as stated is real. The publication does make very interesting reading, however. Stuff you don't see in the mainstream press.
The money trail isn't surprising. In fact, can you say it isn't proof that it's the best way to go? If solar + wind were that great, if hippies riding bicycles were really all that when it came to producing energy, wouldn't the money trail go in the other direction, instead of a subsidy to an industry that can't make it on it's own? When is the last time a bicycle manufacturer bribed a politician to put in a bicycle path? The fact that pro gas has the money to buy influence could be considered proof that its is a superior energy source.
But there's a downside, and we're getting to that point in the party. We're running out of beer.
The downright "providential" change in America's energy future brought about by shale gas has already changed the world. If they would disclose their tracing elements when they drilled I'd be in favor of it. If we taxed the production/consumption of it to build out the electrical grid and invest in R&D (and ironically our municipal water supply) it would truly be part of a bridge to the future for us.
But if all we're going to do is burn it to heat a big drafty house, gas up the SUV, and export the rest we're wasting another chance.
Drilling like there is no tomorrow so that our reserves can be sold for a quick profit overseas is basically, morally wrong. It benefits no one but the company and shareholders. US gas should be reserved for domestic consumption.
Selling gas into the open market will reduce prices for everyone on the planet. There's a direct correlation between world poverty and the price of energy, so selling it does in fact help someone other than the companies. Higher prices domesticaly will promote conservation. I'm in favor of an export tax that will fund renewable research or even conservation upgrades. If the price of gas goes up 20% but you use 1/2 as much you're still making bank.
It also favors us geo-politically, which helps Europe when Russia tries to turn off the tap or Iran over-charges Turkey. Simple fact: Europe will pay dearly for energy in the next century. Reality is we could go from OPEC to OGEC pretty quickly, and the list of countries would be even less interested in USD than OPEC. Russia Iran and Qatar account for more than 60% of conventional gas reserves on the planet. Shale gas is as important to the dollar as Brent crude is to the pound.
Don't think of them as gas frackers, but yankee doodle freedom fighters.
Great, so third world populations swell with cheap energy. Sounds like a solution with unintended consequences. That is assuming that a therm of gas even reaches the third world after hungry 1st and 2nd world economies have their feed at the trough. If it is the next century one is concerned about, isn't that all the more reason to be more prudent now?
There also seems to be some confusion here that natural gas is somehow clean and is the answer to oil and coal. A good article here by a well respected researcher on the subject:
His estimates for leakage have basically been backed up by a recent study in the Denver area where methane leakage was estimated at around 4%, which is twice the rate that was generally believed:
Equal rights and education for women is the only thing that will keep the population in check. As energy becomes more expensive so human labor becomes more valuable, agriculture more critical, and women with no opportunity (even to own property) will continue the cycle.
As far as price, I have no doubt we'll get ours before they get theirs, but hydrocarbons in all forms are needed for an advanced economy. If you shut down 5% anywhere you raise prices everywhere for everything, from mattresses to fertilizer. If we could export to the rest of the world while simultaneously lowering our own energy needs through conservation and innovation we can make the transition to full renewables even sooner. If the wind/solar/nuclear trifecta takes off NG may end up being too expensive to even pump. Happened to oil in the 80s!
Now, do I think that will happen? Not even close. Gas companies will jack prices and skim profits while buying tax breaks. When the fruit is dry and the husk is empty we'll be left with another hundred superfund sites and another resource squandered with nothing to show for it but an infrastructure in even worse shape than before. When we REALLY need the investment in this country it won't be there. The rich will sit in their towers protected by an army brought home, looking down on us like vermin. Simon Cowell will interview the next president. Who would be dumb enough to invest in a nation of poor? What's the point? They're too poor bother to steal from, even if you teach them to read they can't buy your products, and you don't need them now that you've got robots.
Ok, so now you have me depressed
Actually, back in the 60's and 70's people, especially young people screamed as we poisoned our land and streams. Fast forward to today. The Cuyahoga River can no longer be set on fire, Love Canal is a story in the past (except for those who still suffer the impacts of having lived there), we continue to clean up superfund sites, DDT is no longer in use, and the raptors and brown pelicans have made a huge comeback.
I'm a little more optimistic for the future even if pessimistic about the short term future of fracking in NY state. Keep the truth in peoples faces, and continue the research. The youth in this country will eventually get pissed off as they will inherit our mess. Things will change, though maybe a little too late. In the meantime, we can all do our personal best to conserve resources and reduce our carbon footprint and use of fossil fuels.
The processes may not be new, but the quantity is. The more holes you poke through an aquifer the greater the chance of something going wrong. And we don't need the gas. They have so much that they are actually considering capping some off. http://wapo.st/HstegN
The is until foreign companies can build facilities to ship the stuff as LNG to their shores. Morgan Stanley has financed the Arctic Star to ship LNG to Tokyo. They expect to make about $16.5M on the trip. http://bloom.bg/GJ0p2J And Royal Dutch Petrolem (Shell) is looking to build a refinery in the gulf to convert natural gas to diesel. Hear that giant sucking sound? It's our resources being sucked away to build the first world (and that is no longer US.) http://on.wsj.com/Hj2qzW
Does anyone find this just a bit concerning?