“Science, science” is often screamed by those who often refuse to believe it. It is always going to reveal the facts when presented in its entirety.
Science is a straightforward process of understanding facts, testing and re-testing conclusions, then giving those conclusions to others to test to ensure your conclusions are solid. However, it amazes me that so many areas of science can be contested with false parallels and ideologies.
Ricky Gervais, a so-called comedian and an outspoken atheist, was being interviewed by Stephen Colbert a while back and he gave the analogy that if all of the world’s knowledge would be destroyed tomorrow, that in a thousand years, the religions of the world would come back differently; while science would come back the same – because, you know, science.
I do not agree with this statement. Not only from the religious front, but the science side as well. Anyone in who has been reading NaturalGasNow will know, “science” from polls to academic studies has been repeatedly abused to show what information the funder of the study wanted to find. When the studies are conducted in a manner that adheres to true scientific rigor, though, such studies always come back with the truth. We have seen this happen a few times, such as with the NRDC study on groundwater contamination.
Too often those who scream “science, science” the loudest are the ones who deny any evidence that contradicts their claims. A case study of this happening comes from the Obama Administration (well a lot more than this one). The Clean Power Plan relied upon a claim that a particular form of small particulate air pollution was responsible for large numbers of premature deaths, for example. Despite the evidence contradicting much of this, the EPA employed 20-year old data to push ahead with the plan. That helped gas compared to coal, of course, but it wasn’t smart. Gas didn’t need that sort of help to be superior to coal with respect to emissions. Gas beats coal on several emission fronts.
We also have discussed the Potomac Pipeline fiasco a few times. A pipeline that will deliver natural gas to West Virginia by way of Maryland for three short miles, has been a hotly debated topic for a while. Hotly debated is a nice way of saying ideological activists have been pulling out all of the stops to prevent this pipeline from moving forward. Every chance they get to speak, they call for the pipeline to be stopped. One day is because it will be another TransCanada pipeline – cause they had an oil line leak and trampled on Native American Lands. another day it’s that “fracked” natural gas pipelines are dirty and will destroy Mother Gaea faster than when Maui stole the heart from Ti Fiti in Moana. The next day is that Gov. Hogan is soft on fossil fuels and played a switcheroo when he banned fracking.
The latest attempt at stopping the Potomac Pipeline is the most absurd – geology. The area where the pipeline to cross the river is characterized by what’s called Karst. The Britannica defines this topography as:
“Karst, terrain usually characterized by barren, rocky ground, caves, sinkholes, underground rivers, and the absence of surface streams and lakes. It results from the excavating effects of underground water on massive soluble limestone. The term originally applied to the Karst (or Kras) physiographic region, a limestone area northeast of the Gulf of Trieste in Slovenia, but has been extended to mean all areas with similar features.”
Based on this, activists are now claiming this pipeline must be completely different from the other 12 pipelines in the area. They believe another study is needed to ensure the geology is safe to support a pipeline. What this really means, and what we have seen from their antics so many times, is a deliberates strategy of wasting time and money hoping the project will, eventually, no longer worth the hassle.
Late last month, Sierra Club of Maryland and their shallow mouthpiece, Delegate Shane Robinson, called for an emergency bill authorizing more studies because of the karst geology. They live-streamed the press conference and if you dig around these videos, you can see all of the usual suspects, from Food and Water Watch to We are Cove Point. Having no doubt the geology question is a strawman to achieve their ideological goals, I decided to prove it by doing what any millennial would do, I tweeted him!
Like any politician in Maryland looking to advance their career on baseless demagoguery, Robinson dodged the question and tried to circle out of answering – which he never did.
I find this Karst topic interesting because I like science. I worked for a company that had a geo-engineering subsidiary for seven years. I have watched the process and marketed the concept of solidifying the rock formation under bridges and buildings that sat on sandy foundations. The idea of crossing karst topography is a bit more challenging than traditional methods of running a pipe, but it can be done with little sweat on the brow.
Then, there is this fact; it has been done – quite a bit. The Virginia Cave Board has an FAQ on this very subject where they state:
“Are there currently any natural gas pipelines in Virginia located in karst terrain?
Yes, there are several companies that operate and maintain natural gas transmission pipelines located within Virginia karst terrains. Of the 27 Virginia counties that contain significant karst resources, 20 of them (74 percent) appear to have at least one natural gas transmission pipelines that traverses the county and is likely located on karst. These counties are: Alleghany; Augusta; Botetourt; Clarke; Frederick; Lee; Loudoun; Montgomery; Page; Pulaski; Roanoke; Rockbridge; Rockingham; Russell; Shenandoah; Smyth; Tazewell; Warren; Washington; and Wythe. The seven Virginia counties containing significant karst resources that do not currently contain any current natural gas transmission pipelines are: Bath; Bland; Craig; Giles; Highland; Scott; and Wise.”
It’s clear the activist claims would be completely different if this project were anything other than a pipeline. If it were underground transmission lines running beneath a large body of water from, say, a wind farm, then I’m sure there would be no problems. I don’t see Shane Robinson criticizing the one we are seeing in Ocean City, Maryland, for example. That one comports with his ideology, so its ok and the science can be damned. Science is fluid in their mind’s eye and it only matters when it supports their claims.