Natural Gas Now Best Picks of the Week – January 18, 2020

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy. As usual, emphasis is added.

The Insanity That Is New York

Believe it or not, this is not from Ripley’s Believe or Not:

NRG Energy, one of the biggest and most questionable beneficiaries of New York’s ill-fated Empire Zone program, will get another $6 million from taxpayers after a state Tax Appeals Tribunal sided with the company over the state.

The state has already given NRG Energy $218 million to subsidize two shuttered coal plants near Buffalo and the Oswego Harbor Power [oil] plant, which rarely runs.

The $6 million dispute goes back to 2009.

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Oswego power plant that is a monument to New York insanityt

That year, New York kicked NRG Energy’s Oswego Harbor Power plant out of the Empire Zone program, saying the company was earning more in state tax credits than it spent on wages, benefits and plant investments.

The state had paid out $28.6 million in credits for the Oswego plant between 2002 and 2008 in exchange for creating only four jobs, according to reports the company filed with Empire State Development.

And, they don’t want natural gas!

Swedes Reject Greta?

And, more believe it or not:

The Swedish public has voted that climate change spending has been the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2019, according to a poll by the Swedish Taxpayers’ Association.

The Taxpayers’ Association released the results of their annual wasteful spending poll earlier this week, declaring that climate policy had been the biggest waste of money, largely due to the fact that despite the spending, emissions in Sweden had actually slightly increased.

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In 2014, the Swedish national government spent 5.2 billion Swedish krona (£419 million/$547 million), a number that has more than doubled to 12.6 billion krona (£1 billion/$1.3 or Getting Out of billion) for the planned 2020 budget.

“The government has more than doubled the appropriations for climate policy, but despite this, emissions no longer decrease. In 2018, emissions even increased. That is why climate policy has been voted the worst waste of the year,” Johan Gustafsson, Waste Ombudsman at the Taxpayers’ Association, said.

Surprised? Don’t be. The Greta message was always a scam and most of us recognize it.

Now, This Is What Should Happen!

Pennsylvania Representative Chris Dush has introduced legislation requiring Commonwealth to start the process of getting out of the DRBC. Yes, the same DRBC that has stolen our natural gas rights!

The Delaware River Basin Compact Law enacted in 1961, established Pennsylvania’s participation in the interagency, multi state agency charged with managing and monitoring water resources in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and New Jersey. While well-intentioned when passed, the Delaware River Basin Compact Law has since created burdens for municipalities in the Delaware River Basin and taxpayers throughout the Commonwealth.
natural gasThe initial term of the Delaware River Basis Commission is to last one hundred years. I am introducing legislation which will give the Commonwealth some relief long before that deadline, still some decades away. My legislation will require the Governor to negotiate with the other parties to the compact to seek either an early termination of the compact itself or allow for the withdrawal of Pennsylvania as a party to it. These negotiations would continue for five years and require annual reports to the General Assembly of the efforts made to comply with the withdrawal or termination efforts. If no agreement is reached for either an early termination of the compact or Pennsylvania’s withdrawal from it, then notice would be given of the Commonwealth’s intention to terminate at the end of the initial term.
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation to rein in the power of this agency.

This is precisely what should be done. Is it realistic? Not yet, but this is the first common sense step and it will make others think about the possibility. Well done!

And, This Is Why We Should Get Out of the DRBC

Lehigh Valley folks probably thought they had nothing to fear from the DRBC. After all it was their natural gas rights the agency was stealing. They supposed it was all about protecting the Delaware, but they’re learning it’s about New York City:

Kenneth Powley was a writer living in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood in 1976 when he began taking people to the Lehigh River for guided rafting trips, charging only for gas.

Powley was stunned by how quickly those trips grew into a business, Whitewater Challengers, based in White Haven, Luzerne County.

But Powley, now 70, is concerned his business will evaporate if an Army Corps reevaluation study of the dam leads to changes in how and when water gets released.

If the river stops churning, “we’d be done,” Powley, who employs 250 during the season, said with a grimace on a recent day as he stood atop the dam.

The dam was built to control flood risk. Recreation, like rafting, was added later as a purpose. Now, the Army Corps is looking at more uses for the dam, including how it could manage water flows to control the point at which salt creeps up the Delaware River. Keeping that salt line in place, well south of Philadelphia, is vital to protecting the city’s drinking water.

The 109-mile-long Lehigh is the Delaware River’s second largest tributary, releasing millions of gallons of freshwater daily into the river.

Francis E. Walter Dam

The three-year dam study, funded by the multi-state Delaware River Basin Commission and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, has just started. New York City is involved, in part, because it’s required to release its own reservoir water during times of drought to help keep the Delaware River salt line in check

Currently, water from the Francis E. Walter dam is not being used for salt line control. But the study parameters suggest officials are looking at that possibility.

Powley fears that if that happens, regularly scheduled dam releases into the Lehigh for recreational purposes could be severely curtailed or stopped, and the whitewater would stop churning, he said.

At the meeting, Paul Rush, deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said his agency believes the Francis E. Walter dam could provide additional help with salt line control, but the issue needs to be studied.

New York, he said, does not want to actively control the dam’s operations. Nor, he insisted, does the city need another drinking water supply — another rumor that ran rampant before the meeting.

“We have plenty of water in our reservoirs to maintain the city’s needs way into the future,” Rush said.

He said water use is down in New York City from 1.6 billion gallons a day in 1979 to 1.1 billion gallons a day now because of low flow toilets, showers and other conservation measures.

So, the City now needs half billion fewer gallons of water per day from us but it can’t afford to release more down the Delaware to deal with the salt? And, it wants to take the water from the Lehigh tributary instead? And, the DRBC, of which Pennsylvania is a member is going along with this? If any proof were needed that the DRBC exists for the purpose of appeasing New York City, this is it. It’s time for all Pennsylvanians to link arms in opposition to this feckless, untrustworthy and useless agency that has stolen our natural gas.

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