American Elephants

The Next Energy Frontier: It’s Not Offshore Wind! by The Elephant's Child

I posted this map of shale formations in the U.S. about ten days ago.  Note the Marcellus Shale, the biggest of the red areas. The subsurface area comprises about 50 million acres, and the economic outline  encompasses an area of about 18 million acres. That’s big.

The United States consumes 22 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas per year — estimates for recoverable reserves are that it will produce something in the neighborhood of 489 trillion cubic feet.  Recent reported recoveries suggest that this may be very conservative. The Marcellus will provide more than 20 years of consumption for the entire country, as well as more than 100,000 new high paying jobs which are being created in an economically depressed rural area of Pennsylvania.

American natural gas was in long term decline prior to the advent of significant production from the new Shale programs. The rise of production from the Shale Fields beginning in 2006 changed everything, and we are now seeing increasing production, a halt to imports and decreasing natural gas prices. What’s not to like about that?

U.S. Monthly Gas Production

A few encouraging facts from Gregory R. Wrightstone. You might want to keep them in mind when you hear the pronouncements  from the EPA, Interior, DoE, and all the varied bureaus and offices of the Obama Administration.

The Obama administration recently told Congress that accelerated permitting and financial incentives have helped to fuel a booming interest in developing wind, solar and geothermal power on public lands, but continuing and future development will depend on a strong commitment and dependable incentives from Congress.

Read that again.  Because the government is giving away permits and grants and startup money people are interested in developing  inefficient power, but if Congress doesn’t keep supplying the commitment in the form of loan guarantees, the grant program, and permitting that is deliberate, careful and on time — whoa.

Wasn’t there something about permitting in the Gulf of Mexico that is so far overdue that a federal judge is having to issue demands to Salazar to act within 30 days or face the consequences?

The Energy Battles Aren’t Going to Disappear Any Time Soon. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Energy, Law | Tags: , ,

Everyone got, temporarily, a little excited about the president’s offshore drilling announcement, but then they metaphorically read the fine print.  It does little to increase access to domestic supplies, and actually puts 13 billion barrels of oil and 49 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off-limits.  Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been more supportive of offshore wind energy, which is the form of energy that his boss prefers.

A new Institute for Energy Research video compares a natural gas platform to an offshore wind platform, and explains some of the facts.  A government not captive to green ideology should allow industry to pursue these opportunities.  Whatever the energy source, the reoccurring problems are over-regulation and special-interest politicking.  The NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) crowd is always ready to fight.

The Cape Wind project is still in progress, but it has faced strong opposition from the Kennedy family, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.  The Alliance has reportedly poured more than $15 million into fighting Cape Wind ever since the project began in 2001.  The Alliance says “shipping lanes, tourism, public safety, Cape Cod economy.”  Two Indian tribes working with the Alliance seek to designate the entire Nantucket Sound as an Indian historic property.  And so the battles go on and on and on.

The New York Times Continues To Try to Save You from the Horrors of Global Warming. Sigh! by The Elephant's Child
March 5, 2010, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Law, Science/Technology | Tags: , , ,

“The Newest Hybrid Model” is the title of a story on the front page of today’s business section of the New York Times.  The article is headed by a dramatic photo of 500 acres of solar panels sitting next to an unimpressive natural gas plant in Indiantown, Fla., owned by Florida Power & Light.

The natural gas plant — which occupies no more than 15 acres — produces 3,800 megawatts of reliable electricity.  The mammoth 500-acre solar array next to it (about 3/4 of a square mile) will produce 75 megawatts of electricity at its maximum — that is, on a hot summer afternoon.  (Fortunately this is the time of peak demand from air-conditioning).

According to the Times:

The solar array…is an experiment in whether conventional power generation can be married with renewable power in a way that lowers costs and spares the environment.

This isn’t quite right. Solar power depends on— the sun.  At night, or when the sky is cloudy, solar power requires backup from a conventional power source.  This plant will dispense with the fiction that solar can stand on its own.  So you have a 500 acre solar array that will add an additional 2 percent generating capacity onto a stand-alone gas plant.  This, the Times claims is a big advance.

The Times enthuses:

The latter is critical if the nation is to succeed in reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide. Power plants account for over a third of domestic greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming.

Why are they doing this when it economically seems to make no sense?  Some state legislatures have decided, prodded by the greens, that “renewable energy” is the future.  And probably more because they know some other state that is doing it, and they want to seem as “forward thinking” as their neighbors.  There is no such thing as “renewable” energy anyway.

This is not science or technology, but politics and hype. With the collapse of the entire “global warming” agenda, and the exposure of the fraud that backed it, it is time for legislatures to catch up and recognize that wasting this kind of money when state finances are in such troubled territory is beyond foolish.  Most legislatures, however, would rather raise taxes.

More Pelosi on Energy Policy. by The Elephant's Child

There was another interesting part to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s appearance on Meet the Press. Ms. Pelosi announced that she was a major advocate of natural gas an an energy source; but then revealed that she is unaware that natural gas is a fossil fuel. And that it must be drilled for either on shore or offshore. Power Line caught this display of ignorance right off. From the transcript:

BROKAW: Well, I think most people understand that, but at the same time, if we work our way off carbon-based fuels, in the meantime, this is not going to happen overnight.

PELOSI: No it isn’t but you could — again, you could reduce the price of gas at the pump immediately with… (inaudible). You can have a transition with natural gas. That, that is cheap abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels. So, so there is a way to transition this instead of doing more of the same. The Bush administration, two oil men in the White House, they want us to believe that the status quo is what we should do and more of it — and more of it, when it will just only keep us in the same place that we are now.
PELOSI: I’m — I’m investing in something I believe in. I believe in natural gas as a clean cheap alternative to fossil fuels.
PELOSI: Well, that’s not — that is the marketplace. The fact is, the supply of natural gas is so big and you do need a transition if you’re going to go from fossil fuels, as you say, you can’t do it overnight, but you must transition.
These investments in wind, in solar and biofuels and focus on natural gas, these are the real alternatives.

The Power Line guys point out that “The Democrats prey on ignorance. Often they know better and are being cynical; sometimes it’s because they are ignorant themselves.”

It is really hard to know what Democrats understand about energy. They seem unaware that the case for catastrophic global warming has dissolved, that carbon dioxide is not the cause of what global warming there has been, and that the planet has been cooling for the past ten years. We don’t need cap-and-trade to cut down on carbon emissions because carbon dioxide is simply essential to life. It makes plants grow and helps them to survive drought, and there are many times in the past when there has been much more CO2 in the atmosphere.

I don’t think that Democrats know this. AlGore dismisses anything that disagrees with his position with great contempt, and so I imagine that most Liberals simply don’t know about changes in the science. I don’t think that they understand the real drawbacks of biofuels. Nor do they grasp the limits of solar and wind.

They are holding American energy policy hostage to misconceptions and orders from their environmentalist sponsors. They ignore the national security implications, because they want the troops out of Iraq and then there won’t be any more wars. Or something like that. If you have a better explanation, please let me know.

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