Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I've been asked: "What is my affordable alternative to natural gas & oil that will provide enough energy for a nation of 300M with reasonable comfort?"

Now here is the answer to your question:

Absolutely. First, it's not cheap. You need to acknowledge that oil & gas are not interchangeable fuels, without an enormous conversion cost. Second, only 10% of this gas will even be consumed in the US. The gas companies are multinational corporations. The majority of stakeholders are foreign entities who intend to liquefy, store, and sell the gas on the open market to the highest bidder... probably the US. So, we'll be 'reducing our dependency on foreign oil' and establishing a dependency on foreign owned natural gas for largely industrial use. It must also be said that the cost of the infrastructure to develop, transport, clean and refine this gas will be passed on to the consumer as it always is.

Next, the 'local jobs' this industry claims to create are low-end, mostly temporary, labor jobs that we will trading off long standing traditional permanent jobs for. EX: In PA, the largest industry is tourism (vacationing, hunting, fishing, camping, sight-seeing). The jobs in that industry will ultimately disappear forever as the industry consumes the land, the esthetics, and the water. Other jobs that will be permanently going away will be in agriculture, farming, real estate, new home building. People do not want to live in or near an industrial zone. Another thing that will disappear is the 'mom & pop' family stores, small hotels, restaurants, bed n' breakfasts, etc. Again, there will be no need for them.

Now, for a relatively cheap, clean, renewable, sustainable, and 100% domestic alternative would be the combination of wind & hydro turbines, solar, wood, bio-diesel, and geothermal. These alternatives can, and would provide sustainable jobs in manufacturing, installation, & service for these technologies. Plus, they are non-polluting, and will not deplete or contaminate our clean water supply, or threaten air quality. *Water replacement, processing, and cleaning will also add a tremendous cost to natural gas, and fresh water, like gas, oil, and coal, is also in finite supply and more essential to our health and quality of life.

What I'd also like to point out is the 'cost' of living with an industrialization of this magnitude. Many mortgage companies, will not approve a mortgage on 'leased land' and many insurance companies will not write a homeowners policy on land that is leased, or in close proximately to leased land. That will, and always has, resulted in crashing home value.

Natural gas, contrary to popular belief and industry claims, is NOT a clean alternative to oil or coal. Nat gas is cleaner when burned, but during it's life cycle from extraction, to processing, to transporting it, and burning it, is more polluting than oil and/or coal. (See the Cornell U study by Robert Howarth:

So, all that being said, I am not a tree-hugger, environmental fanatic, or a veggan. I'm a realist. And no, I do not use oil, coal or gas to heat my home. I heat all 2500 sq. ft of it exclusively with wood for about $250 p/year... and we can grow more trees. We can't grow, or manufacture, oil, coal, gas, or water.

The gas industry realizes these things. That is why, when you examine industry publications, many are predicting that within a decade, 'water will be the new oil', and be a lot more valuable.

When comparing the 'benefits' of natural gas development to the 'loses', the benefits fall short, and the environmental and social impact, the risks associated with natural gas development, as well as the basic economics of this, are simply not worth it. .

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