To the Editor:
Dan Buttermann’s letter in your editions of Feb. 21-22 headlined, “On Energy Future, State Must Pick Right Side,” has the right title but supports the wrong side – renewables only, no new gas.
Unfortunately, the state (Governor Cuomo) shares Mr. Butterman’s view. Now the consequences are beginning to show.
Con Ed announced no new gas hook-ups in Westchester County. A six-acre urban renewal project in Yonkers – kaput. All new commercial/residential development in Westchester – on hold. Incidentally, Westchester utility rates are going up; gas 11 percent and electricity 6 percent.
Let’s not pick the wrong side for Otsego County. Our energy future needs ALL forms of energy, including affordable, abundant, reliable natural gas.
Gas cuts overhead, creates jobs. It counterbalances New York’s high taxes and restrictive business climate. If permitted, pipelines could be here in about a year.
In his letter, Mr. Buttermann objects to my agnosticism on man-made global warming. In his mind, the “acres of data” on CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere makes this “settled science.”
For starters, “settled science” is a contradiction in terms. History is littered with the debris of “settled science,” from the heliocentric concept of the universe to Paul Erlich’s “Population Bomb.”
I have no problem with the data; there’s indications that the world is warming. However, another science caveat – correlation is not necessarily causation. Many warming and cooling cycles have been identified over time; the Medieval and Roman Warming Periods the one 10,000 years ago when the ice retreated from the valleys of Otsego County.
What factor(s) warmed the earth then? It wasn’t manmade industrialization. Are those factors active today? In what combinations, what proportions?
Before we spend tens (hundreds?) of trillions of dollars on Green New Deals, we need answers to these questions. Furthermore, what are the consequences of that spending? What is the best way to pass a legacy of sustainability and prosperity to our children?
These questions need answers before we bow to the “OMG!!! We have only 12 years to live!” Tweet storms.
For arguments sake, let’s assume Mr. Buttermann’s “settled science” is correct. Doom is imminent. Shouldn’t we look for the most expedient way to lower CO2 emissions? A build-out of renewables in proportions needed to “save the planet” would take time Mr. Buttermann says we don’t have. What’s the solution?
Try this: an Oct. 29, 2018, posting from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) notes that carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector have declined 28 percent since 2005. The emissions are now at 1987 levels.
The EIA credits the reduction primarily to market priced natural gas replacing coal in power generation. This reduction in emissions to 30 years lows was done in spite of an 85 million population growth, an expanding economy, and an expanding energy output. Amazing!
Show me another means of energy production that gets the same results in the same time at the same cost. If Mr. Buttermann is truly serious about averting his global catastrophe, the data is staring him in the face.
Finally, Mr. Buttermann notes my objection to subsidies for renewables, but I’m OK with state money for a gas-decompressor station in Oneonta. He implies inconsistency on my part.
Not really. Subsidies have been around for as long as there have been governments. My objection is to the state’s pernicious favoring of one industry over another through direct subsidies, tax abatements, mandates, prioritization, government regulatory and executive actions.
This raises costs in one industry to the disadvantage of the other. Subverting the market price reeks of favoritism and corruption. As a consequence, the customer (taxpayer/ratepayer) pays more money.
In contrast, Oneonta’s gas-decompressor is a one-time investment that will support the operation and expansion of existing businesses and attract new ones. It answers an expressed need. It doesn’t impede another form of energy. No problem for me if the state provides a subsidy to promote the general welfare by retaining and creating jobs.
I, like Mr. Buttermann, found good information at the Energy & Infrastructure Summit. Geothermal looked promising with a fivefold energy return. However, the devil’s in the details. What’s the outlay, the break-even point, the potential savings? Hopefully, the answers to questions like these will unite us for a brighter energy future.