natural gas

Picken(s) winners and losers

We've been consistent here about the undesirability of letting government, at any level, pick winners and losers.  Same is true—I know, this is shocking—even when the potential winner is natural gas and related industries.  Jazz Shaw at Hot Air:

At the Weekly Standard today, Daniel Halper has what should be a must read essay regarding T. Boone Pickens and the NATGAS Act currently being considered in congress. This is one of those subjects where I frequently find myself dealing with conflicting feelings. I am, without question, a huge supporter of the domestic energy potential of natural gas and the jobs it can bring, along with improved positions on national security, well into the next century. Halper notes, however, that Pickens tries to steer the conversation into an area where the government should not stray...

...Natural gas, particularly in its compressed form, is already in wide use and current technology holds the promise of expanding that use into many other areas. We may well be the “Saudi Arabia” of natural gas, and this could be a major piece of the puzzle in terms of leading us on a path toward energy independence. But natural gas must – and in most cases already does – prove itself to be fiscally sustainable without being propped up on the taxpayer dime. That’s precisely how we got into so much trouble with ethanol, solar and other adventures too numerous to list.

Read the whole thing.

Crikey! Pigs are flying!

In case you missed it...an endorsement of development of shale gas resources from—wait for it—David Brooks at the New York Times:

...John Rowe, the chief executive of the utility Exelon, which derives almost all its power from nuclear plants, says that shale gas is one of the most important energy revolutions of his lifetime. It’s a cliché word...but the fracking innovation is game-changing. It transforms the energy marketplace.

 
The U.S. now seems to possess a 100-year supply of natural gas, which is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. This cleaner, cheaper energy source is already replacing dirtier coal-fired plants. It could serve as the ideal bridge, Amy Jaffe of Rice University says, until renewable sources like wind and solar mature.
 
Already shale gas has produced more than half a million new jobs, not only in traditional areas like Texas but also in economically wounded places like western Pennsylvania and, soon, Ohio. If current trends continue, there are hundreds of thousands of new jobs to come.
 
Chemical companies rely heavily on natural gas, and the abundance of this new source has induced companies like Dow Chemical to invest in the U.S. rather than abroad. The French company Vallourec is building a $650 million plant in Youngstown, Ohio, to make steel tubes for the wells. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York will reap billions in additional revenue. Consumers also benefit. Today, natural gas prices are less than half of what they were three years ago, lowering electricity prices. Meanwhile, America is less reliant on foreign suppliers.
 
All of this is tremendously good news, but, of course, nothing is that simple. The U.S. is polarized between “drill, baby, drill” conservatives, who seem suspicious of most regulation, and some environmentalists, who seem to regard fossil fuels as morally corrupt and imagine we can switch to wind and solar overnight.
 
The shale gas revolution challenges the coal industry, renders new nuclear plants uneconomic and changes the economics for the renewable energy companies, which are now much further from viability. So forces have gathered against shale gas, with predictable results.
 
The clashes between the industry and the environmentalists are now becoming brutal and totalistic, dehumanizing each side. Not-in-my-backyard activists are organizing to prevent exploration. Environmentalists and their publicists wax apocalyptic...

Read the whole thing.

App Watch

lng app

 

Now available, the CNG Finder App for iPhone and... some other phone.

CNG Finder lets you find the closest CNG fueling station for your LNG vehicle, compare prices (lots less per mile than gasoline and diesel) and more.

But, woah, they're not really very close...

Gosh, just think, if they were closer, maybe TCAT could convert their buses to run on natural gas and be easier on the environment while saving enough money to pay their drivers.

Untll those green pins get a lttle closer we can admire that soot rising from the TCAT buses... well, except when the drivers are all out sick.

 

Dim-City

A recent Viewpoint in the IJ spews a lot of gas—well, hot air.

The piece is an attempt to dispell the "myth" that "gas extracted from the nation's vast shale deposits can help release the U.S. from the vise grip of our dependence on foreign oil." -- a quote from former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.
 
Attempt: failed. 
 
This is an example of an bus and car-pool advocate invested emotionally in a cause unable to see beyond their portfolio.
 
The strawman in the piece is that "Passenger travel is the gas-guzzling beast."  The monster, the real issue is "transportation — daily, short-trip, commute, errand, run-of-the-mill mom-and-pop travel." 
 
Reality: given a choice, people—even students in liberal Ithaca—generally choose personal transportation over public options like TCAT.  Have you seen the fancy cars these kids bring to town?
 
Now that's not everyone, to be sure.  Yes, some people prefer the bus, or car sharing or even car pooling options.  And those options should be available.  But beyond emergency, lifeline levels, these options should compete with all of the other available alternatives on their own rather than being unfairly supported beyond their economic value.
 
Cars and light trucks can certainly be converted to run on natural gas...or more easily converted to methanol which can be produced efficiently from natural gas.  Methanol would be a great alternative to ethanol production, which takes vast amounts of farmland out of food production and creates vast corn monocultures which are disrupting migrating species.  But I digress.
 
I'm not a big fan of T. Boone Pickens, but some things he's said bear pondering.  For example, the truck fleet in the US is where some serious energy use is concentrated.  And because of intense wear that fleet is replaced about every three years, making adoption of new technology when replacing vehicles pretty quick.  One of the few possible replacements for diesel fuel for those big rigs is natural gas.  Moving big trucks to natural gas could free up lots of other energy for personal transportation.
 
Our future is not all natural gas or nothing... we run around in one of those sissy Prius things when we're not hauling something serious in our big (pre-Government Motors) Silverado, and I've been known to walk to work on the county's pedestrian trails.  These are solutions that serve specific people at a specific point in life. 
 
But the heart of the no-gas program goes like this:
To address air quality, climate change and true sustainability, the U.S. transportation system needs to become more efficient and strive to move away from fossil-fuel use in all its forms. To that end, it is imperative that research continues on alternatives to fossil-fueled motor transport. It also is imperative that alternatives to single-occupant vehicle use be supported by policy and funding. Transit in all its forms, car-sharing, ride-sharing and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian mode use are all part of the immediate solution. Most difficult will be adjusting our lifestyles to reduce the number of car trips we make every day and to consider how we can use other modes to get around.
Essentially all of this is wrong.  
 
Using natural gas would improve air quality.  We can go off on climate change myths another time. Using the resources we have under our feet is the key to sustainability and energy independence.
 
The market, not inefficient policy and public funding, is the most likely mechanism to produce workable, acceptable transportation alternatives.  
 
Transit in all its forms, yes, including big honking single-occupant vehicles, chosen, and not chosen, on their own merits, by individuals and families themselves, will make adjusting our lifestyles to changing circumstances of work, family and society the easiest.  
 
The outrageous assertion that we must change our lives and reduce the number of car trips we make to "save the world" is the kind of pronouncement made by progressives who think they can play Sim-City with real people's lives.  Individuals, set free to solve the problems they face, will beat central planning anytime.

Fair and balanced?

This story from WKTV-Utica from mid-July has some landowners both in NYS and in Bradford County, PA pretty steamed:

The landowners from both PA and NYS we met with in northeastern PA recently not only adamantly denied that the claims made in this report are true—and indeed made the case that the claims are demonstrably false—but were not happy with the NYS residents that they say come down in groups, not just to poke around Bradford and Susquehanna Counties looking for evidence of animals keeling over within two steps after drinking "contaminated" water, but to disrupt meetings of PA landowner groups. I was embarrassed to be a New Yorker.

And we saw some indirect evidence of the unwelcome presence of NYS anti-development people in Susquehanna County in the distinctly hostile behavior of a landowner when he spotted us in a vehicle with New York tags taking pictures of his land being prepared for drilling.  Can't say that I blame him—it's hard to imagine what he's had to put up with from the "anti's".

WKTV was supposed to do a follow-up to this story to provide some balance, but I couldn't find any evidence that they had in fact done so.  If someone knows of such a thing, please pass it along in the comments.

It would appear that it doesn't matter what you say as long as you're impeding progress.

UPDATE: Thanks to NY Shale Gas Now for the link to the follow-up story at WKTV that came about "after CNY landowners complained about the coverage":

Crossing the Rubicon

The country is in an absolute uproar after the downgrade of the country's credit rating by Standard & Poor's.

The steep decline of the stock market is touching everyone, ravaging retirement and education accounts, and, yes, pension funds.
 
We were railroaded time and again, with hyperinflated financial fear mongering, to spend huge sums on questionable bailouts and stimulus, on an accelerated time table.  We now know we have accumulated not prosperity but only more debt and inflation.
 
It has become clear that the Obama administration has moved well beyond the land of what the government is doing for you, deep into the land of what the government is doing to you.
 
If you had $100,000 saved for retirement, you may have lost $10,000 this week alone because of those misguided policies. 
 
Your reward for withstanding all this Progressive pain? The president said today that he wants more taxes from you.
 
Phew, at least there is solace at home, right?
 
Last week in Dryden, if you own 100 acres of land, you may have lost up to $300,000 in lease signing bonuses because the Town Board decided to ban natural gas energy production within the town.
 
Here we are railroaded by the hyperinflated environmental fear mongering to take huge sums from town property tax payers.  Here we are on the side of the Rubicon on which there can be no profit from one's investment.
 
If the pattern holds, I'm guessing that the call for raising Dryden town taxes will be coming along shortly. 

WHCU interview on Dryden drilling ban..."We'll have to agree to disagree."

Dave Vieser's interview of Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner on WHCU this morning, following the town board vote on Tuesday evening to ban energy development within the town, is here—it's about 9 min., 30 sec.  Listen for Supervisor Sumner's response(s) to Vieser's twice-asked question about taking away property rights.

"A government of laws and not of men." -- John Adams

First, a little context...the highest-ranking law enforcement officer for NYS, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is, according to his bio at ny.gov, "responsible for representing New York and its residents in legal matters."  Got it?

And

Schneiderman has worked to restore the public’s faith in its public and private sector institutions by focusing on areas including public integrity, economic justice, social justice and environmental protection.

The alarms inside your head should be going off now.

He apparently also needs a copyeditor:

He was also a public interest lawyer for many years, representing taxpayers in historic lawsuits against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), tenants trying to evict drug dealers from their buildings, and women seeking access to health clinics.

This paragon of public virtue sued "tenants trying to evict drug dealers from their buildings, and women seeking access to health clinics"?  I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant, although it is what he said. But I digress.

According to the April 22, 2000 People's Weekly World (the earlier iteration of what is now the People's World, a Marxist newspaper based in NYC that is the official organ of the Communist Party USA) Schneiderman told the 2000 Working Families Party convention

There's been an incredible explosion of wealth...the two parties have presided over this shift, in which the rich have kept all the money.

Scheiderman added that due to tax cuts for the wealthy "there won't be any money for people's needs."

Got that?  It should sound real familiar to folks in Assemblywoman Babs' 125th district—and Babs and Eric are fellow travelers on gas drilling issues.

UPDATE: From South of 5 and 20Eric Schneiderman, you say? Al Sharpton's pal?  Good one...we'd momentarily forgotten that those two were BFFs.

Now fast forward to 2011.  AG Schneiderman wants to defend landowners' rights. Wait...in view of the above that sounds absurd, says you.  You're right—it is absurd:

....the U.S. government will seek a dismissal of the suit filed by Schneiderman’s office earlier this year [New York v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 11- cv-2599, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). Citation at Bloomberg—tvm].  The AG filed his suit back on May 31, claiming the government is allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to move forward in the Delaware River Basin without a proper environmental review...
 

....“There’s not been a ruling yet,” Schneiderman said of the suit. “We’re dealing with the hydrfracking issue at several levels.”

Among those levels is the rights of property owners. Schneiderman said his office has received several complaints from landowners who say gas companies are trying to extend leases during the ongoing environmental review process from the Department of Environmental Conservation...

He added, “This is not a frack or don’t frack issue. It’s about the fair treatment of landowners.”

Whatever regulations the DEC does develop, Schneiderman would have to defend them in court...

Ah.

In view of AG Holder's selective enforcement practices at the federal level when it comes to laws he doesn't like and in view of AG Schneiderman's opinions on things like "social justice" and his public position on fracking when he was in the state senate, how do you think it will turn out in NYS if AG Schneiderman doesn't like how the DEC regs come down?

Me, too.

h/t Tom

A Dryden farmer speaks...

...very eloquently—Evan Carpenter on changing "viewscapes" and property rights, at the Dryden Town Board public hearing last Wednesday, July 20th.

"From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."

Well, maybe that line from the prologue to Romeo and Juliet overstates things just a tad—we're not quite at the "civil blood" stage in Dryden and presumably won't be—but there's no doubt that we're at the "civic groundwater pollution" stage and actually have been for some time...see the videos that are linked in this post from June if you doubt it.

More of the same occurred this past week at the Dryden Town Board public hearing and you can see some videos in this blog entry, "Will Dryden Go Dry?"  And if only there were video available of one of these same speakers cautioning against the town overreaching its authority at the April town board meeting and being loudly booed by his moral and intellectual superiors.

The aforementioned blog entry, by the way, contains some valuable information, such as

...The proposed ordinance amendment  is written so naively as to prohibit not only drilling but also pipelines, gas-related offices, storage or use of gas and all sorts of other things.  It says, among other things, that “No land in the Town shall be used to … transfer (or) store natural gas; or … for natural gas and/or petroleum support activities” and “No permit issued by any local, state or federal agency, commission or board for a use which would violate the prohibitions of this section or of this Ordinance shall be deemed valid within the Town.”  This language would prevent any fuel oil dealer or any propane dealer from locating in the town, along with pipelines, CNG fueling stations or even a gasoline station or office for a company dealing in petroleum products.  Perhaps worst, is the notion that the Town of Dryden can declare a state or Federal permit as invalid. [link added--tvm]  Does the Town really think it can supersede the Public Service Commission’s Article 7 process relating to pipelines for example?  Well, maybe it should read this case, which says not.

Read the whole thing.

A new group, the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition, has a website containing Dryden-specific information as well as more general Marcellus Shale info, articles, and excerpts from relevant legal source documents. If you're interested in joining the group, there's an e-mail address, DrydenSEC@gmail.com, at which you can indicate that interest to the group organizers.

The town board was originally scheduled to vote following the public hearing on July 20th on the zoning ordinance amendment that would ban all gas-related activities, but has postponed its vote until August 2nd. If you're a Dryden resident, you may want to contact the board members before August 2nd:

Mary Ann Sumner, Dryden Town Supervisor: supervisor@dryden.ny.us

David Makar, Dryden Town Board member: dmakar@dryden.ny.us

Jason Leifer, Dryden Town Board member: jleifer@dryden.ny.us

Steve Stelick, Dryden Town Board Member: sstelick@dryden.ny.us

Joe Solomon, Dryden Town Board member:  jsolomon@dryden.ny.us

For a little different perspective, no one beats South of 5 and 20 for spot-on snark—check out South's post on this topic.

And Dryden farmers had their say, too, and quite eloquently, although I haven't been able to unearth any video of their remarks to the town board.  By and large, though, their take on this is reflected in this earlier post.

Let's hope the discourse going forward is a little more civil than it's been.  And stay tuned—we'll keep you posted.

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