Natural Gas Now Best Picks of the Week – November 21, 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.

Will Tree-Sitting Pipeline Opponents Be Dragged Down?

Two and half years after we ran a contest here about how to best remove some tree-sitting Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents, they’re still at it, but the end may be near:

Two unidentified activists blocking construction of a natural gas pipeline from high in a white pine and a chestnut oak were found in contempt of court Thursday.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Robert Turk imposed a fine of $500 a day against each tree-sitter for as long as they remain on the tarp-covered wooden platforms that went up more than two years ago.

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Officials with the Mountain Valley Pipeline hope the tree-sitters will come down voluntarily to avoid the penalty…

“It was our hope that the tree-sitters would choose to leave on their own to avoid unnecessary confrontations,” Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin said in a statement released after the hearing. “However, we will ensure the court order is enforced in due time.”

Partin said the office is making plans “to ensure we have all the necessary resources available, so the situation can be resolved quickly and in a safe manner for all the parties involved.”

Here are some of the suggestions our readers gave in 2018 for getting the sitters down:

  • Blast Yoko Ono singing at 140 decibels
  • Dump a bucket or four full of spiders into the tent
  • Slather bacon grease on the tree trunk to attract black bear
  • Squirt them with the stuff that runs out of a green silage bunker

Just trying to help Sheriff Partin, you know…

Maximizing the Marcellus!

Well, this is interesting. Some Federal bureaucrats, at least, have their heads on straight:

Across Appalachia, natural gas producers are supporting the energy security of the United States as they continue to tap the vast shale gas resources of the region. Shale gas is used for heating and power production, but the chemical industry also relies heavily on natural gas as a feedstock to manufacture valuable chemicals.

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With some of the world’s most cutting-edge facilities and a roster of preeminent fossil energy researchers, the Lab has decades of experience converting carbon to higher-value products and the established infrastructure to create an innovation center capable of transforming the downstream sector. With this in mind, NETL has prioritized natural gas utilization, leveraging the Lab’s capabilities and expertise to identify more uses for natural gas and bring valuable products to market faster, at lower cost and with less environmental impact.

“We strive to bring national focus and coordination to technology development associated with the conversion of natural gas to high-value commodities, ultimately strengthening our national economy and national security,” said [National Energy Technology Laboratory]  Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D…

[The Department of Energy] has positioned the nation to be energy secure through natural gas development, including NETL’s game-changing research in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. By increasing use of natural gas, this priority will help support the rapidly evolving chemicals landscape, helping to ensure that the Appalachian region will seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity in the natural gas supply chain.

“There are thousands petrochemical facilities across 13 key industry sectors within 300 miles of Pittsburgh that manufacture adhesives, paints, plastics and many other important products,” Anderson said. “Successfully developing our own regional natural gas processing and refining capabilities will enable a surge of new companies and jobs and enrich development of the workforce, particularly in economically depressed areas. Over the next decade, we are going to work hard to realize this goal through creating a Natural Gas Utilization Center of Excellence.”

This is the kind of research that will make real differences in real lives. It will be nice to see where the Natural Gas Utilization Center of Excellence goes with it.

Can’t We All Agree to Just Decide for Ourselves

Some pearls of wisdom here from our friend Robert Bradley:

The energy-efficiency nannies start with smiles and studies about how consumers fail in their purchase and usage decisions–and end by mandating a lower standard of living for the rest of us.

No, we do not want low-volume showers; we want choice between low-volume and high-volume options. We do not want electric heaters rather than gas heaters–we want the option between both with choices on up-front costs versus back-end efficiencies. We also do not want low-flush toilets. We want what we want without experts-qua-planners involved.

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Enter the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which describes itself as:

“…a catalyst to advance energy efficiency politics, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. We aim to build a vibrant and equitable economy – one that uses energy more productively, reduces costs, protects the environment, and promotes the health, safety, and well-being of everyone.”

Trying to be all-good-things via government mandates is the opposite of letting rival appliance makers develop technology and deciding what consumers naturally want. It is fallacious to believe that physical efficiency translates into economic efficiency as demonstrated by consumer choice. It is central-planning-folly to believe that technical studies and policy reports can provide unambiguous answers to override market entrepreneurship.

I couldn’t agree more. Prices are votes and markets work. Enough with the nannies!

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