News of Otsego County

Brian Brock

DOWNEY: Gas Demonized, But CO2 Levels Keep Going Down

Gas Demonized, But CO2

Levels Keep Going Down

To the Editor:

Brian Brock’s recent letter to the editor (“Renewables, Not Gas, The Cleaner Way To Go,” 1/23-24/20) misses the forest for the trees.  In citing a one-year (2018) up-tick in U.S. energy-related CO2, he conveniently skips the long-term role of gas in lowering emissions.

A week earlier, the Energy Information Agency’s three decade (1990-2021) emissions report shows CO2 emissions dropped to 1990 levels as shale gas replaced coal at power plants.   Before shale, coal generated 56 percent of our electricity.  Today it generates 24 percent, with projections of 21 percent in 2021.

This in spite of our population’s growth and our economy’s expansion.    Wind and solar contributed, but natural gas was the driver.

Here’s why.  Gas is cheap.  Gas scales up easily to replace coal in an industrial society.  Mr. Brock and the No Gas! No Way! folks ignore these facts and dismiss a realistic option in reducing greenhouse gas.

Instead, they support the state’s (Governor Cuomo’s) multiple schemes to force New York ratepayers to pay higher prices for expensive subsidized and/or mandated renewable-powered electricity. They miss the Big Picture.

Energy needs are growing fastest in the Third World.  The people of China and India hunger for  the same  amenities afforded in the West  –  TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, computers, air conditioners, new homes and infrastructure  – all powered by electricity.  In the Third World, that electricity has been and will continue to be generated by coal.  Coal  emits twice the CO2 of natural gas.  Currently China alone emits more CO2 than the United States AND the EU combined.

The two largest coal companies in the world, China Energy Investments  (Shinhoa Group) and Coal India are both state controlled and under their countries’ political leadership.  At the Paris Accords, that leadership carved out a 10-year waiver  on emission goals and only a “promise” to set goals in 2030.  They are unburdened by treaties.  And China and India  aren’t the only emerging nations with energy needs.  How about Indonesia?  Brazil?  The continent of Africa?

Natural gas offers an option.  It’s competitive in price and emits half the CO2.  It has transformed the energy structure of the United States.  It can work elsewhere.  We have the gas; other countries have the need, yet Mr. Brock and the antis oppose the pipelines and LNG terminals that could make exports possible.

Here in New York Mr. Brock and his fellow gas deniers oppose drilling, pipelines, gas-fired power plants, or any upgrade to existing infrastructure.   They’re against the Constitution Pipeline, a pipeline that would bring cheap Pennsylvania gas to Upstate towns, New York City, and New England.   About half the homes in chilly New England are heated with oil.  Consider the possibility of Pennsylvania gas (one third less CO2) replacing that oil.

Locally, the antis are against upgrading  the NYSEG gas line serving Oneonta.  This upgrade  would  safeguard winter shortfalls and would meet the stated needs of companies wishing to expand or relocate here.  That would mean new jobs, new opportunities to help stem the outflow of young families whose children populate our schools and bring vitality to our communities.  The lack of opportunity drives young families  elsewhere.  However, if any part of a solution involves affordable energy from  gas, Mr. Brock and company are  against it.  Period.  They oppose it in the name of climate change.

Let’s get real.  Banning gas and gas infrastructure in our little corner of the world may satisfy a need for virtue signaling, but will do little to decrease worldwide emissions.  China, India and the rest of the emerging world will continue to electrify, using the cheapest fuel possible.  In most parts of the world, that’s coal.

We, in turn, should use gas (and renewables, where practical) to continue the erosion of coal-based generation here.  Gas exports would meet needs elsewhere.  These tangible steps would make a difference  . . . if the politics would allow.



BROCK: Renewables, Not Gas Cleaner Way To Go

Renewables, Not Gas

Cleaner Way To Go

To the Editor:

The preliminary estimate of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions for 2018 is up 3.4 percent, reversing the recent downward trend.

What is more, arguing that burning methane is better than coal because it releases less carbon dioxide conveniently neglects that the entire gas infrastructure leaks methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  (Conveniently that is for that argument, not for the environment.)  Like carbon dioxide, methane in the atmosphere shows an upward climb.

Unproven is that the conversion from coal to gas decreases the net greenhouse gas emissions. (However, the lack of residual coal ash is a great environmental benefit and gas is cheaper.)  Increasing atmospheric concentration of methane flattened in the first years of this century, but resumed its upward climb with the boom in the natural gas industry as it tapped into shale reservoirs.

In contrast, there will be tremendous reductions in greenhouse gas emissions with the switching from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Objecting to the subsidies for renewables overlooks the far larger subsidies that the fossil fuel industry has accrued over the decades.  And these don’t foster a fledgling industry, a long-standing practice in the United States, but instead fatten the bottom line of established companies at the expense of our country.

The boost to our economy for conversion from coal to gas pales in comparison to the boost from fossil fuels to renewables.

As becomes clearer with each passing year, the arguments for fossil fuels, including gas, are based on selective presentations that just don’t hold up to scrutiny. Net benefits are not just fiction but fantasy.

And there’s the irony of those who once argued against restrictions on the burning of methane because there’s no manmade global warming, now argue against restrictions because burning methane will lessen that same global warming.



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