Marcellus Shale

Ms. B Just Says No to Shale Gas, No to Nuclear, No to All

Last week I was in a small group that met with an assemblywoman whom I’ll refer to as Ms. B.  Ms. B represents the district that is the most vocal critic of shale development in New York.  Activists in this district are responsible for funding the shale protest and masterminding the 90 bans and moratoriums on shale gas development that have been passed here. As her website states, Ms. B was first elected in 2002 and is now starting her fifth term.

Ms. B began the meeting by telling my group that climate change is her number one issue.  She declared that her reading tells her that the United States must completely de-carbonize its economy by 2020.  If it doesn’t, it will be responsible for catastrophic collapse of the environment.  Ms. B, who holds an M.A. in English and taught high school English before she was elected to the legislature, knows this because she reads it.  Unfortunately, she just doesn’t read anything that doesn’t agree with this view.

What’s more, Ms.B’s well-educated constituents –- the faculty, students and staff of a well-known university where my daughter will matriculate in the fall –- agree with her, which is why they keep re-electing her.  If her constituents get their way, hydrocarbons will be headed for the dumpster.  Forget the industrial revolution; never mind the cost or intermittency of alternatives; Mother Nature is terminally ill and can only be saved by drastic action!

Ms. B also demonstrated how she lives by her convictions.  She refused to turn on the lights even though her office was dark.  When one person reached for the switch, she muttered under her breath,  “We don’t do that around here.”  Instead, she tried to open the blinds, which would have been a good idea, except they didn’t work.

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air, by David J.C. MacKay FRS

When I suggested she read Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by David J C MacKay in order to understand what de-carbonization will take, Ms. B said that she had never heard of it.  MacKay wrote the book for British policy makers when he became alarmed at the physical impossibility and excessively optimistic claims of most renewable energy.  He is professor of natural philosophy in the department of physics at the University of Cambridge and chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate. The book is available for free at this link.  I recommend it for any person passionate about de-carbonization like Ms. B.
In Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, MacKay shows that only nuclear power generates enough energy to replace hydrocarbons.  The world already knows this.  After 40-years of trying to replace hydrocarbons after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the only non-hydrocarbon source of fuel of any significance in the world is nuclear power.  Today nuclear power makes up 10% of the world’s fuel supply, while the other 90% is hydrocarbons. The figures are on the IEA (International Energy Agency) website.

Wind resources are simply not in the right place.  Turbine farms take up valuable land and generate most of their output at night when it’s not needed.  Solar is good for the desert, but if the panel is shaded, pitched or oriented in any direction except South, output declines significantly.  Bio-fuels raise food prices.  Wave energy is in its infancy.  Then, there is my personal favorite: hydroelectric dams.  My great-grandfather lost his farm to one of these projects in the 1940s.

So has Ms. B thought through the implications of her position?  She kept saying that the United States does not have an energy policy.  Does Ms. B have a coherent energy policy?  Does Ms. B support nuclear power?

No.  In fact, she hates nuclear power, too.



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