Unatego Area Landowners Association
The latest anti-fracking tizzy-fit is about Kinder Morgan’s 412 mile Northeast Energy Direct (NED) transmission pipeline.
The Northeast Energy Direct pipeline will run from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire. The gas it will carry is destined for New England and shipment overseas. This pipeline will run parallel to Cabot Williams’ Constitution line in Delaware County.
At a recent Oneonta, NY, FERC meeting, antis continued to filibuster Marcellus gas from reaching markets. The usual “fire on the mountaintops, death in the valleys” rhetorical goulash was served hot and heavy. Added to the usual ingredients (blasts, poisons, fugitive methane, damaged roads, etc.) were a pinch of “land rendered valueless with gas sold to foreigners” and a dash of “few jobs and meager tax revenue.”
Some antis actually believe this sad stew but the REAL reason for the opposition is that gas crushes their beloved renewables in the marketplace. Gas is cheap. Gas, unlike renewables, is easily scaleable. Domestic gas, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), is responsible for lowering CO2 emissions to 1994 levels. For all the renewable hoopla, nothing else has reduced emissions like gas.
The Northeast has enormous needs for gas. Gas heats 54% of the region’s homes. Gas generates 52% of its’ electricity As nuclear and coal plants close, this need rises.
Last year wholesale natural gas averaged $2.63 per thousand cubic foot (MCF). The Northeast paid twice as much, over $5 a MCF. Why? Currently, Northeast gas comes from Canada and the Gulf Coast. The further gas travels, the more it costs. Meanwhile, nearby Marcellus gas sells at a discount due to a lack of infrastructure. Why not build a pipeline from an abundant field located a few hundred miles away selling discounted gas? It’s a no-brainer.
Where else will New England get its power and heat? Use coal? Bring out the crucifix, the garlic, the silver spike! Coal is Evil! Nuclear? Think Fukushima! Oil? Not likely. Costs and carbon works against it. Wind and solar? Get real!
Currently, renewables make no economic sense. Look at Germany, a country all-in for renewables. Even with massive subsidies, German electricity rates have skyrocketed. A friend from Stuttgart showed me his 2014 electric bills — 48 cents per kilowatt hour (KWH). Check your NYSEG bill, and smile in relief . . . and remember, New York rates rank second highest in the nation, only behind Hawaii.
The Northeast’s only rational option is gas from Pennsylvania. It’s doable. It’s cheap. So what’s the problem?
The problem is a religion. The opposition kneels in the pews of the Church of Environmental Correctness True Believers, they must cast out carbon, no matter what the costs and regardless of gas’ benefits. To that end, they have scared the politicians with their zeal and perseverance. God bless ‘em; they see their Glory Road and they follow it.
Less admirable are the High Priests, the billionaire manipulators who control the movement and fund the “research” and the media noise. These folks are betting against carbon and investing in wind and solar. They know the Promised Land of renewables will be preceded by 40 years in the desert. However, that desert can be made to bloom if you know the right people. The government gives you money, and your companies are blessed with tax abatements, subsidies, mandates, exemptions, rebates, loans guarantees and more.
The billionaires’ family foundations (the Rockefellers, Heinz, Packard, Park, Schmidt (Google) Pew, Soros, et al.) cover the money trail by donating to the likes of the Sierra Club, the Tides Foundation, the Sustainable Markets Foundation, and dozens more. These foundations, in turn, follow instructions from their donors, purchasing pre-ordained “science” that’s blessed by bought-and-paid-for peer reviewers. It’s then trumpeted by a foundation-subsidized blogosphere and press, and finally brought to the town halls and government hearings by the True Believers. The press then reports the noise for a double whammy of validation. The High Priests have turned black to white, up to down.
Who wins? Billionaires with portfolios piled high with renewables. The losers? Upstate New York, where the rural areas hollow out and the poverty in metro areas like Buffalo and Rochester rank up there with Detroit and Cleveland.
The Northeast Energy Direct pipeline won’t solve all our problems. But it’s part of the solution — a rational national energy system.
Richard Downey is a retired New York City schoolteacher and a member of the Unatego Board of Education and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.