from DICK DOWNEY
Plans 700 Coal-Fired Power Plants
To the Editor:
Oneonta needs natural gas. The latest skirmish in local Gas Wars is over a decompressor station in the old D&H railyards. NYSEG’s gas feed to Oneonta is seasonally limited. There’s no guarantee of supply to large users during protracted cold spells. NYSEG won’t upgrade the feeder line for years to come. Businesses and our local IDA support the decompressor station; the anti-gas faction oppose it. Most agree that affordable energy is key to regional economic growth. That would be gas.
The focus on a stable year-round economy is not new. Since 2005, the County has created three economic plans. All cited our tech, tourist, educational and cultural advantages. The results: minimal growth, an aging population while the young flee for opportunity. A fourth Plan is now in the works. We transformed our IDA, Otsego Now, into a one-stop shop to facilitate financing and administrative hurdles. We’ve hired two IDA CEOs. They’ve been clear. Both said we need the availability of natural gas if want to keep and create jobs in this area.
A relatively small, organized, articulate, dedicated, close-minded group are opposed to ANY form of gas expansion. They feel the use of fossil fuels will destroy the planet. The timeline to Doomsday is elastic; some say 12 years and it’s curtains. Others offer various endpoints to be fossil fuel free. The year 2050 is popular. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) contradicts this, predicting in 2050 gas will still be 40 percent of our energy mix.
A second local group favors ALL forms of renewable and gas energy. Their composition is more defuse, many in private business, mostly quiet, hesitant to speak up in public. Their voices are rarely heard. Finally, most people don’t care much one way or another, as long as the lights go on and the stove works. Public opinion polls consistently confirm climate change is a low priority. In last month’s CNN’s poll of the most important issues for the 2020 election, climate change didn’t even make the Top Ten.
So, given diverse opinions and our economic needs, how do we move the needle towards growth? Is opposition to any form of fossil energy useful even from an ecological standpoint? Perspective helps.
Some facts: The use of coal worldwide in electric generation is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG). In the U.S.A., natural gas is replacing coal at power plants, reducing GHG. Still the United States produces about 15 percent of the world’s GHG. Who’s producing the other 85 percent?
Some recent headlines are helpful. “Coal Isn’t Dead. China Proves It,” (Forbes 1/19/19) states China will build 700 more coal-fired generators by 2027. A second article, “Coal is King in India and Likely to Remain So” (Brookings Institute, 3/8/19) confirms the coal-based trend. Mining.com notes that there will be 1,600 new coal generators built in 62 countries by 2027.
There’s your problem. And here we are in Otsego County dithering over emissions from couple of truckloads of natural gas delivered to the D&H railyards in order to get and keep local jobs. P-L-EA-S-E!!!
The D&H fractivists ignore the fact that the substitution of gas for coal in power plants is the main reason U.S.A. emissions have fallen to 32-year lows. This happened in spite of an 85 million population growth, a growing economy, and more energy use per capita (EIA Energy Report 10/29/18). As a result the U.S.A., of all the industrial nations, will come closest to meeting the Paris Accord goals. Credit this to fracked gas.
Germany, the paragon of climate correctness, has spent close to a trillion dollars on green energy. It gets 28 percent percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Recently its efforts have plateaued. It is unable to produce cost-effective “clean” energy without the help of two gas (yes, GAS) pipelines from Russia and three proposed LNG ports near Hamburg. They did so because the electric rates have skyrocketed to over three times what we pay in NYS. Germany now supports a whole new class of people called the “the energy poor” who pay over 10% of their income for energy. Think about it. If we can’t attract employers at current electric rates, how are going to do so when the rates triple?
Meanwhile, the U.S.A. overflows with gas. The EIA reports production records set and domestic consumption at all-time highs. The Marcellus, the second largest field in the U.S.A., is just down the road from us. The Utica Shale, by all accounts, is also prolific. New Yorkers, the fourth largest consumers of natural gas, are zeroed out of this bonanza. No new gas for us from under our feet or piped down our streets? Is that the deal? Sound right to you?
We need natural gas. We need it now.