Appalachian Basin

Welcome to the Rational Middle, Where Smart Energy Decisions Are Made

The Rational Middle Energy Series aims to educate the public about energy consumption and sources.  It’s a great resource for equipping the public with the real facts on natural gas development in our region.

No signs, no yelling, no cameras, no radical viewpoints; welcome to the rational middle.  The Rational Middle Energy Series is a set of short movies geared towards the people stuck in the middle of this great energy debate about where we should obtain our energy.  Like it or not, energy doesn’t just come from the wall or a switch, a fact many otherwise smart people seem not to understand, which is why the Rational Middle project was undertaken.

The project was launched by the director of Haynesville: A Hunt for an Energy Future, Gregory Kallenberg.  The objective of the series is to help move people away from polar opposite positions on the energy issue and bring them into the rational middle.  The hope is that, once here, both sides can, together, decide where we are as a nation, where we want to go and most importantly how we intend to get there.

Disconnected: More Then a Flip of a Switch

Millennium Pipeline

Millennium Pipeline Route

Before taking my position with Energy in Depth, I didn’t give much thought to where the energy I used was produced. I understood it, of course, but just didn’t worry too much about it as I took for granted the energy would always be there when I needed it.  I grew up a short drive outside New York City, where virtually every one uses natural gas, but no one has development in their backyards.  The closest thing I saw to development was the Millennium gas pipeline that runs through Harriman State Park.

After moving to northeastern Pennsylvania and seeing development first hand on a regular basis, I have a new appreciation for energy and how it gets to where it’s needed.  It seems the further removed an individual is from the development process, the more they are likely to be ignorant as to how their energy is produced.  The Rational Middle Energy Series looks to combat this mentality and help people who just don’t get it, finally understand.

The rational middle wasn’t these sort of extreme ends of the argument, they weren’t the people behind their barricades heaving Molotov cocktails and insults at each other.  This was a group willing to sit down and compromise to look at the risk and rewards of energy and to start working on a cleaner energy future. – Gregory Kallenberg

Energy: Check, Sponsorship:??

The Rational Middle Energy Series is sponsored by Shell Oil Company.  Below is what Kallenberg said about partnering with a major energy company:

We were invited down to Houston and asked to pitch our idea to Shell.  I had this natural trepidation about being sponsored by a huge energy company so we laid the ground rules out from the very beginning which was that we were going to be completely transparent about who was sponsoring the rational middle energy series and then that I was going to get complete creative and informational control over the subject matter. – Gregory Kallenberg

There is always a potential stigma attached with taking corporate sponsorship, yet who has a greater interest in seeing the facts presented properly?   The quality of the videos and the data conveyed (see sections following for examples) says it all.

Understanding Energy Consumption:

The United States alone consumes 100 quadrillion British Thermal Units of energy every year.  For anyone who doesn’t fully understand the British Thermal Unit (BTU) let’s break it down.

  • 1 BTU ~ About the energy content of a kitchen match
  • 100 BTU ~ About the energy content needed to make toast
  • 161,000 BTU ~ Used in an average daily commute
  • 89,600,000 BTU ~ Average home annual use
  • 1,400,000,000 BTU ~ Typical office building annually
  • 170,750,000,000,000 BTU ~ New York City annual energy use
  • 100,000,000,000,000,000 BTU ~ United States annual energy use – (Rational Middle Energy Series)

People have not had to care about energy per se and, in fact, people don’t care about energy; they care about the services energy provides. – Gregory Kallenberg

Where Does it Come From

  • 37% comes from petroleum or oil
  • 21% comes from coal
  • 15% comes from natural gas
  • 8% renewable
  • 9% nuclear

The United States is at a point where we enjoy a very high standard of living, from our I-Phones to our vehicles to our homes.  If we desire to maintain that standard of living, we must also ensure the ability to deliver the  energy required to sustain it.  So then why natural gas?

It’s pretty interesting to consider what the ultimate benefits of natural gas are.  One, among our readily available fossil resources it’s the cleanest, it’s cleaner than coal, it’s cleaner than oil, and, when its burned to do something, it has less of an impact on the atmosphere.  It’s also abundant, much more domestically than we thought it was. – Eric Potter, Associate Director Bureau of Economic Geology

One of the more interesting videos in the series is video 9 where an American family is followed and their energy consumption for the entire day is tracked.

These videos shed great light on what’s involved in making energy conscious decisions in our day to day activities.  Many people claim we waste energy and we should move to conserve more, but before we can conserve our energy, we must first understand how it’s produced.  The Rational Middle Energy series does this.

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