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Mike Zagata

ZAGATA: Fracking Ban Cost County $1B A Year

The View From West Davenport

ZAGATA: Fracking Ban

Cost County $1B A Year

Before getting into what is likely to be a controversial discussion, let’s take a minute to talk about fracking – correctly called hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking is a process by which water, sand, and chemicals are injected underground at high pressures to crack open rock formations consisting largely of sand grains that are very tightly packed together, i.e. they have tiny interstitial spaces which are filled with tightly held natural gas.

The idea behind this practice is to create fissures into which that trapped gas will “flow” and then be transported to the surface where it can be gathered into pipelines and transported to customers who burn the gas to produce electricity, heat homes and cook food.

Following a bogus claim that the practice caused water coming from a faucet in Dimock, Pa., to burn when lit, opposition mounted. Activists deliberately misled the public about why the water burned – the water well had been drilled into a pocket of natural gas associated with a coal formation. As you well know, Pennsylvania has abundant coal formations. What you might not know is:

The same thing has happened in the Town of Maryland, without any drilling or fracking.

Opposition mounted and many towns were visited by lawyers claiming they would help the towns draft moratoria preventing fracking. What they didn’t tell the towns is they were being paid by a foundation opposed to fracking. Paid activists were sent out to build opposition to fracking. How do I know that – because I was approached by one in Greene, Chenango County, who admitted she was a paid activist.
Governor Patterson, lobbied by groups opposed to fracking, put a temporary moratorium in place in 2008.

In 2011, Governor Cuomo, who has gone back and forth on the issue, “asked” DEC to do another study and the agency concluded that fracking could be done safely, and the Administration initially began crafting regulations for the practice.

The Haves And The Have Nots

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

The Haves And

The Have Nots

Possibly the most important outcome of the recent meeting to discuss the future of the Schenevus Central School District is a quote from the superintendent: “The District’s revenues are inflexible.”  She went on to say, “the District does not have property wealth or the income wealth to raise taxes enough to cover the deficit.”

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Finally someone in a position of authority has admitted the truth!  We live in Appalachia and Upstate New York is in a death spiral.  Ironically, Schenevus is where the first gas well to be fracked is located.  Would that have made a difference to the school district if it had been allowed to go forward?  We’ll never get to find out, but fracked gas has undeniably made a positive economic difference in Pennsylvania.  That we do know.

As it started snowing, I thought about the claims of those who protested the use of fracking on the grounds they wanted to protect the surface and ground water.  You might be wondering what snow has to do with protecting our water sources.

It’s really quite simple.  As soon as a snow flake falls, those same people clamor to have the roads salted.   Thousands of tons of salt are spread on our roads each winter and that salt ends up contaminating our rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater – yet you don’t hear a peep about it from the folks who shouted down fracking.

Why is that?  Maybe it’s because they don’t have to make a living here like the 30 percent of our population that’s below the poverty line.  Maybe it’s because they don’t care if our young people have to leave to find work.  Maybe it’s because they don’t care if Upstate New York is losing its population at an alarming rate.

If you doubt that, look at the number of students who graduate from Oneonta High School – less than half the number that graduated in the 1960s.  The same is true for Laurens, Morris, Jefferson, Worcester, Franklin, Treadwell, etc.

The smaller schools are facing the need to merge which means a loss of identity and jobs – something we can’t afford to have happen.  It has to go that way as the schools’ enrollments are too small to offer a diverse education and their tax base is declining. Those of us who choose to stay face, in order to maintain the current level of government “services,” an increase in our taxes every time one of our neighbors decides to leave New York.

As the superintendent from Schenevus so eloquently said – we simply can’t afford not to merge some of our schools.  (A paraphrase.)

Look at what’s happening to the towns within the New York City watershed.  The city has bought up about 90 percent of the developable property within the towns.  Thus those towns have very little opportunity to grow their tax base while at the same time they are facing a 2 percent tax cap and a 3 percent cost-of-living increase.

They are in an economic vise with no way to escape.  Why – because New York City will do, and has done, anything to avoid the need to filter its water.  Meanwhile, the deer and beaver keep pooping in the woods.

Our area needs a source, or sources, of reliable energy now – energy that can be tapped when and where it is needed.  We simply can’t afford to wait until technology catches up with our current need.

Natural gas is a reliable bridge that will allow us to start reversing the downward economic trend now before the downward spiral is irreversible.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our planet – we do.  We also realize that it takes prosperity to have the free time and available capital to protect our environment.  Protecting our environment isn’t a priority for the lesser-developed countries – survival is.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable and thus we’re going to run out of them.  One would have to be a fool not to recognize that and begin now to take the steps necessary to have reliable energy available when we run out of fossil fuels.

We can’t just flip a switch and make that happen – just as we can’t flip a switch and have solar energy available 365 days a year – at least not in Otsego County.

 

ZAGATA: Democrats Keep Placing Blame On The Other Guy

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Democrats Keep Placing

Blame On The Other Guy

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

If you’ve been following the governor’s response to the inability of folks on Long Island or Westchester County to acquire natural gas from Con Ed or National Grid to heat their homes, you must be flabbergasted by the newest twist of events. The governor is now blaming the Public Service Commission and the DEC, two agencies he controls, for the energy shortfall. Come-on man – bite the bullet and take responsibility for the problem you created.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Along those lines, I read with interest in last week’s issue of this paper a call for the Democrats to take over the majority control of the Board via this year’s election. I admire the author for his candor, but I take issue with his approach to bettering the quality of our lives. Using quotes from the McEvoy Memo as a basis, here’s what will happen to our County if the Democrats win a true majority. I’m doing this at the same time another paper released a six pages list of about 1,800 names of people who are delinquent with their taxes. What does that tell you about our economy and the agenda of those who have habitually opposed the energy and infra-structure needed to grow our economy?

Let’s break down some of his quotes into manageable bits:

• “There is a fundamental sentiment that current and past leadership has done little more than
manage the slow senescence of our region. Our current economy is a reflection of the ills of decades of declining population, unhealthy demographic trend lines, and systematic under-investment in our physical, energy, information, and human infrastructure.” You must be kidding me. A Democrat had the audacity to write that – in spite of the fact they have repeatedly opposed anything that would change the status quo.

• “We could finally pursue critical green initiatives.” Who is it that has opposed the proposed wind farms? Who was it that opposed the proposed biomass plant? What is a “green” initiative? What we should be pursuing are initiatives that are supported by good science that will, for every dollar invested, improve the quality of our environment. Wind farms and solar farms may or may not do that. In order to site them, either agricultural or forest land must be cleared. That agricultural or forest land was sequestering carbon via the process of photosynthesis and won’t do that after being cleared. Will the electricity generated by wind or solar farms that will occupy that land produce enough electricity to reduce the need for fossil fuels by enough to offset that loss? If not, we shouldn’t do it.

• “With the goal of protecting our natural and agricultural land.” Do we want to protect/preserve or manage? We protected for decades and found out that by favoring mature forests we were inadvertently evicting those species of birds and other wildlife that depended on grasslands, brush and young forests. The Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy are now supporting forest management, not preservation, via the “Young Forest Initiative” is an effort to restore the population levels of about 43 species of migratory birds. In addition, research has shown that young forests sequester more Carbon than older, mature forests.

• “Increasing our appeal to tourists.” Lake George attracts more tourists annually than we ever will and, guess what, they found out you can’t build an economy in upstate New York on tourism alone. There isn’t anything to do during the “shoulder” months and thus full-time employment isn’t an option. Folks leave looking for full-time jobs and those who live here complain about the short-term renters.

• “Doing our part to fight climate change.” What does that mean and what will it cost? Are we talking about the “Green New Deal”? If so, we simply can’t afford it. Are we talking about adopting what the city of Seattle did to address climate change?
They implemented a mandate to force residents to switch from using heating oil to an alternative energy source (not yet sure what that will be) by levying a high tax on fuel oil. The average cost of the proposed conversion was $10,000. If we can’t afford to pay our taxes, can we afford to pay more to heat our homes and cook our food?

One thing we could do is attempt to find ways to encourage organic farming where we might cut the emissions and environmental pollution from chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Unfortunately, it takes about 40% more land to produce the same yield obtained when those chemicals are used. That being the case, the trick is to clean up these practices in ways that don’t require converting more land to agriculture to produce the same amount of food or forcing large parts of the world to go hungry. It seems there are always trade-offs.

• “Smart invasive species control.” Just exactly what is that and, once you define it, how do you expect to pay for it? Please read the list of invasive species, including Japanese Knot Weed, and list just one that we have eradicated. Unfortunately, herbicides are the most cost-effective and effective way to control, not eliminate, invasives.

• “Continuing to resist fracking and other extractive land uses.” Do you use oil or natural gas to heat your home or cook your food? If you do, you simply can’t support this agenda item without being a hypocrite. Do you drive on salted roads in the winter? If you do, then you can’t support banning extractive land use as salt is mined.

Final quote: “imagine an Otsego County where the agenda is being set by a Democratic chair.” In all honesty, I’m having a hard time doing that. I hope a majority of the readers agree.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

ZAGATA: Regulations Coming Home To Roost

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Regulation Coming

Home To Roost

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

For several decades our nation’s environmental policies have, for the most part, been driven by emotion or what “seemed,” according to popular opinion, to be the “right” thing to do. As a result, many of those policies lacked a scientific basis and the unintended consequences are, like lost chickens, coming home to roost.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

New York State’s ban on fracking may well be such an example. There are some in the environmental community who use natural gas to cook or heat their homes, yet they demand that gas not come from fracked wells in Pennsylvania. Let’s take a closer look at what that means to the release of carbon and the impact on climate change.

The gas they demand comes largely from the Gulf of Mexico, about 1,200 miles to the south of New York. It is transported from the Gulf of Mexico to New York via pipeline at about 800 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure.

To maintain that pressure inside the pipe the gas must be run through large reciprocating engines or turbines that compress it. This gas compression is done about every 40 miles along the pipeline at compressor stations and, guess what, natural gas is the fuel that powers the engines or turbines used to compress the gas to increase the pressure in the pipe.

In other words, not all the gas that enters the pipeline from the wells in the Gulf of Mexico arrives at the other end of the pipeline – much of it is burned as fuel to maintain the pressure inside the pipe and move the gas along the pipeline.

To maintain the pressure along the 1,200 miles the gas is being moved, it takes about 30 compressor stations. To move the gas from Pennsylvania to New York, a distance of about 80 miles, it would take two. Therefore, if we divide 30 by 2, we can quickly see that it takes about 15 times more gas for fuel to power the engines/turbines to move the gas in the pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico than it would take to move it from Pennsylvania to New York.

The people who oppose using the fracked gas from Pennsylvania are contributing to the 15-fold increase of released carbon by demanding we burn more gas than necessary to transport the gas they are using and thus are driving climate change. How’s that for irony?

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California’s largest utility, has announced it is utting off power to about 1.5 million Californians. How can that be, and what drove them to do that?
We’ve all read about California’s catastrophic wildfires, but how many of us understand what triggered them? It was a combination of things, including population growth and home construction being allowed in a fire-dominated ecosystem. However,
good intentions may have been the primary cause.
Every time the U.S. Forest Service, the state’s Forest Management Agency of PG&E, attempted to manage the forest and brush by reducing the fuel load, they were sued by a well-intentioned advocacy group. That too went on for decades allowing the accumulated fuel of dead and dying wood to build up.
When fire came, and that was certain to happen, it came with a vengeance. Entire communities were consumed.

As a result, PG&E was sued as a spark from one of its electric transmission lines may have ignited one of the fires. The groups that sued PG&E to keep the company from removing that fuel were, however, not held to be responsible. That may change going forward.

A year has passed and we’re now into another fire season. To avoid being held culpable for any fires this year, PG&E made a pre-emptive move. They cut off power to about 1.5 million customers. The lack of science-based forest management policy has indeed come home to roost for those affected Californians.

For New York to fulfill its rush toward renewable energy sources, including solar and wind, it must think about how to avoid having the “chickens” come home to roost. The “chickens” will be the expanded electric transmission lines that will
be needed to move the electricity generated by all the new wind and solar farms.
What new unintended consequences will we be asked to face as a result?

Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Column

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Think back to the days of the Clinton Presidency and the words “I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman.” Stains on her dress would seem to indicate otherwise – but it was her fault because she was a woman.

Then Hillary runs for the presidency and she and the DNC hire a foreign agent to work with the Russians to dig up dirt on her opponent – Donald Trump.

After losing the election, they claimed the President colluded with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election – in other words, they tried to blame the new President for doing exactly what they had done – attempt to impact the election outcome.

When folks started to look at the origin of the fake dossier, the Clinton playbook kicked into action – blame someone else and deflect attention away from you.

Guess what, my fellow readers – former Vice President Joe Biden may be using that same play – deflect attention away from your perceived or real wrongdoing by attacking someone else. The person being attacked is, and this should be no surprise, President Trump.

You see, the former vice president is on record that he used his position to threaten the Ukrainian government with withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees if that government didn’t fire the prosecutor who was investigating corruption of the leadership of Burisma Holdings – a very large gas company owned by a Ukrainian official.

His son, Hunter, was placed on the board of that company and paid $50,000 per month to do something – exactly what no one seems to really know.

This was happening at the very same time Joe was serving as the Obama point-person on the Ukrainian government assigned to root out corruption. That’s a no-no and “Joe” bragged to his colleagues about having done it by stating, “I said: ‘We’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Mr. Biden recounted at a 2018 event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, … he got fired.”

Whether or not his threat was the actual cause for the prosecutor being fired and whether or not his son was the target of the investigation, we’ll likely never know. What we do know is that if it looks like
a skunk and smells like a skunk, it likely is a skunk.

To deflect attention from even the perception of wrong-doing, the former vice president went on the attack, accusing President Trump of an abuse of power for allegedly asking the new Ukrainian minister to investigate if there was any wrongdoing with regards to The Biden Affair. It is no surprise the media jumped at the chance, bolstered by cries of “fowl” by the Democrats, to attack the president.

However, before choosing sides on this, let’s dig a little deeper. There were at least a dozen people listening in on that phone call. Our president may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

Do we really think he would ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent with that many people listening in – especially after being dragged through a two-year investigation over alleged “collusion”?

A few days after the feeding frenzy in Washington, we’re learning the “whistle-blower” didn’t actually have first-hand information – he wasn’t on the call. Could it possibly be this person has an axe to grind – maybe an agenda involving starting yet another investigation to distract both the Congress and the president from working on behalf of the American people?

As a taxpayer, I’m fed up with the waste of time and money. There are things that need doing, and it’s time the Democrats work with the president on things like infrastructure, the drug epidemic, violent crime and illegal immigration. Enough is enough.

Beyond that, however, I am ticked off that our media and politicians assume the American public is that gullible. Let’s be sure we do our homework before going on the attack or agreeing with the media – and that applies whether it’s a Democrat or Republican that’s being accused.

Mike Zagata,
DEC commissioner in
the Pataki Administration
and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in
West Davenport.

Poverty? Don’t Blame The Rich, But Ourselves

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Poverty? Don’t Blame

The Rich, But Ourselves

Talk about getting things backwards and exposing your political bias at the same time, while totally ignoring the facts – and you’ve identified Oneonta’s mayor, as reflected in a column he writes elsewhere.
We have poverty because of folks like him who deny reality when it comes to renewables vs. fossil fuels, who even fight renewables like solar and who do everything they can to keep industry that would create jobs out of Oneonta – witness the 2008 proposed biofuels plant farce.
For once, let’s put the blame for our economy where it belongs. It’s not with corporations but could lie with Gary’s disdain for the “rich” – the very people who create jobs.
Our economy didn’t turn south with Trump’s election – it has been there for decades.
There wouldn’t be a need for OFO if it weren’t for folks like our mayor and his allies – folks would actually have jobs and earn a living wage.
Remember, unemployment is at its near all-time low right now and Donald Trump is president.
With regards to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the mayor is right in that the U.S. withdrew. But it wasn’t President Trump who withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement – it was President George Bush and he withdrew, not for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons.
France is 80 percent nuclear when it comes to producing energy and President Bush knew the U.S. couldn’t compete economically because it would have been too costly for the U.S. to meet the stringent targets and not costly at all for France.
(We still have groups in the U.S. that profess a desire for clean air and oppose nuclear energy).
That situation hadn’t changed when the Paris Accord was proposed – the U.S. was still at an economic disadvantage.
But guess what happened in spite of the fact the U.S. wasn’t party to the Accord? The U.S. was the only country that met the Accord’s goals with regards to reducing carbon.
How could that be, you say. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it came about as a result of fracking and the tremendous increase in the availability of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas!
The mayor goes on to say that renewables, with the right subsidies, would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
He totally misses the point. It’s not the cost of renewables that makes them unable to compete with fossil fuels, but rather their unreliability.
Do you want to depend on the sun or wind to keep your pipes from freezing at night (sun’s not shining) and it’s 10 degrees below zero outside? The wind is generally calm on the nights when the temperature is coldest.
That’s the situation we face right now – today.
Is there research underway to help address the issues with renewables – yes. At some point I hope to be able to write an article proclaiming victory in our battle to find viable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.
But I can’t write that article yet.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Life Without Fossil Fuels? Where Would We Start?

COLUMN

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Life Without Fossil Fuels?

Where Would We Start?

Do you really want to stop using fossil fuels?  Your immediate answer may be a resounding “yes.”  However, that could change your life in a way you hadn’t anticipated.  That’s because so many of us grew up in cities and have no real tie to the land or to how the things we rely upon in our daily lives come from or how they are made.

Do eggs, tomatoes and bacon come from the grocery store?  That may be where you purchase them, but that’s not where they originate.  They are grown on farms, often located thousands of miles from the store where you purchased them.  When you purchase a tomato during the winter, it likely was grown in California.  The eggs you buy likely were hatched by chickens residing in huge poultry farms in the South that were fed with grains from the Midwest.  The bacon probably came from hogs grown in Iowa.

ZAGATA: The Cost Of A Free College Tuition

COLUMN

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

The Cost Of A Free

College Tuition

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

You might read the headline and ask, “How can something that is free have a cost.  First of all, nothing is really free.  That includes the free lunches at school, the free grants the City of Oneonta receives from time to time to pay consultants or deploy flower pots, and free college education.

A public school education is free to the students who attend grades one through 12 yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York spent an average of $22,366 per pupil at its public schools in 2016 – 90 percent above the national average.

Are those things really free?  Governor Cuomo is running a $2 billion budget deficit this year alone and the federal government has accumulated a national debt of $82 trillion ($60 trillion of which is tied to unfunded pensions).

Mike Zagata: Do Renewables Make Sense Yet?

COLUMN

Do Renewables

Make Sense Yet?

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

I see the left is at it again.  If you disagree with or question their agenda, then you are labeled as “evil.”

Now I’m being accused of being opposed to renewables.  If you’ve read my writings on the topic, then you know nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone who is aware of the concerns regarding climate change and understands that fossil fuels are not renewable, i.e. we’re going to run out of them, would be looking for new sources of energy.  Renewables like solar and wind must, at some point in time, be part of that mixA

What I am opposed to is being asked to drink the renewables Kool-Aid without being told what’s in it.  That’s what happened to the cult members who died in Jonestown, Guyana – the results weren’t good.

Is Any Government Agency Efficient?

COLUMN

Is Any Government

Agency Efficient?

By MIKE ZAGATA • View From West Davenport

When Bernie Sanders starts a sentence by saying “The truth on this matter is,” it’s time to reach for your wallet to see if it’s still there.  He’s not alone in that regard, as there are lots of candidates trying to sell us on the virtues of socialism.  To learn how socialism has affected you, read the last three paragraphs.

book, “Our Revolution,” developed by the Stephen Colbert show, that has been circulating on Facebook.

The major differences between socialism and capitalism can be defined by the role of the government.  In general, capitalism affords economic freedom, consumer choice and economic growth. On the other hand, socialism, which is an economy controlled by the state and planned by a central planning authority, provides for a greater social welfare and is expected to decrease the business fluctuations likely to occur in a free market.

Capitalism is a market-based economy made up of buyers (people) and sellers (private or corporate-owned companies). The goods and services that are produced are intended to make a profit, and this profit is reinvested back into the economy.

The U.S. is considered to be a capitalist economy, along with most of the modern world.  Economists, however, are quick to point out that almost every society has a socialist aspect or program within it, i.e. Social Security.

Nothing Is Perfect, But Green Movement Is Looking For Answers
from CARL SEELEY

Nothing Is Perfect,

But Green Movement

Is Looking For Answers

To the Editor:

I don’t always catch Mike Zagata’s column, but every time I do, he’s revisiting the same two themes—one right, one wrong.

Theme One is that even “green” technologies have negative environmental impacts. This is true, and it’s important to understand and keep in mind. When we get electricity from photovoltaics rather than coal or gas, we reduce our CO2 emissions, but we increase other impacts related to the mining of particular materials and the manufacturing process for the panels.

Examples are easily multiplied, because very few technologies are actually zero-impact, never mind restorative, leaving ecosystems better than we found them. To the extent that people are naïve about that, it’s good provide a reminder of reality.

Mr. Zagata’s second theme has two forms. Theme 2A is an explicit claim that something being touted as a “green” technology is actually worse than what we’re doing. This is what he said back on Jan. 24-25 about electric cars, and as discussed in my response published the next week, he was factually wrong.

Theme 2B doesn’t go as far as 2A. It’s not an explicit claim that some “green” technology is actually a bad idea. It is, instead, a focus on the green technology’s environmental impacts, with an implication that it’s not worth adopting.

This argument makes little sense, and sometimes Mr. Zagata blends it with other misleading or false statements. His recent discussion of geothermal heating is a case in point.

Yes, geothermal uses some electricity for the operation of the system (though Mr. Zagata’s April 25-26 column on the subject suggested he didn’t understand the basic workings of heat pumps). And yes, most people’s electricity still comes – at least in part – from fossil-fuel combustion.

It’s nonetheless true that heating your house with geothermal produces less CO2 than running electricity through a baseboard heater, or burning gas, oil, or wood. Why is Mr. Zagata trying to talk people out of that?

Most recently, in his May 23-24 column, Mr. Zagata takes apart a reader’s claim that their electricity is “clean” because they get it from a supplier of renewable energy. Mr. Zagata here is partly right, because it’s true that all the power in the grid gets mingled together in ways that we don’t usually think about.

If I go to the farmer’s market and buy a steak from Tauzel’s, the beef I’m eating actually was raised in Schenevus; it’s not mixed in with a bunch of other beef from, say, a Nebraska feedlot.

Electricity is different. If I buy power from a solar farm in Laurens, I’m not getting those “electrons.” The power produced there is put onto the grid and finds its own best route through the vast web of producers and consumers.

As with geothermal, we’re at Mr. Zagata’s theme 2B: you may think your electricity is clean, but you’re still getting power from gas-fired plants, so don’t bother with your “green” efforts. But this is misguided.

When you buy from a solar farm, you aren’t purifying yourself of involvement with fossil electricity, and you aren’t eliminating your environmental impact, and you shouldn’t tell yourself that you are. Nonetheless, you are helping. You’re increasing market demand for sources like solar that, while not perfect, are better. As that demand increases, our power system shifts to a mix of sources that are cleaner. Not clean, but cleaner. Not perfect, but still an improvement.

Green technologies are not miracle workers. Our daily lives will always have impacts on the world around us. But there are vitally important reasons for reducing those impacts, and there are practical ways of doing that, such as electric cars and geothermal heating.

Mr. Zagata’s crusade against these efforts is a disservice to the public.

KARL SEELEY

Professor of Economics, Hartwick College

Oneonta

ZAGATA: Power Grid Mixes Good, Bad And Ugly Electrons

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Power Grid Mixes Good,

Bad And Ugly Electrons

A few weeks ago, an article appeared about installing a geo-thermal system to heat and cool the family home.

The subject was very transparent about the fact geo-thermal systems require considerable electricity to run the pumps that circulate the fluid and to provide the energy necessary to make up the differential between the temperature of the water sourced from beneath the ground (normally 55 degrees) and the thermostat setting during cold nights (usually about 68 degrees).

He then explained that he buys his electricity from a co-op that buys it from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) via a purchase contract.  The source of the power in that contract with the NYPA is hydro.  The author went on to say that because of this arrangement, they are not burning any fossil fuel.  Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

How can that possibly be?  They buy their power from a company that sells hydro-power to their supplier.

It’s because the power that is purchased by the co-op from the NYPA must enter the “grid” of transmission lines in order to be delivered to their home.  Once a given electron enters the grid, it is co-mingled with other electrons from other energy sources including coal, gas, oil, solar and wind.

ZAGATA: Hidden Consequences Of Saying ‘No’ To Gas

COLUMN

Hidden Consequences

Of Saying ‘No’ To Gas

By MIKE ZAGATA

When we live in a community for a lengthy period, we tend to become “comfortable” with those with whom we attend church, purchase services from, hire to do household repairs and who sell us the various products we need.  Indeed, over time we simply assume they will always be there.  Is that true in Oneonta or, for that matter, in Upstate New York?

This past week I had a shock to my comfort-meter.  I was in the process of purchasing a car for my wife and needed a proof-of-insurance card from my agent.  The sales person was given the contact information for the agency and I assumed all was well – well, why wouldn’t it be?  My family had done business with that agency for decades.

Then a call with a “518” area code was announced on my cell phone with a quacking sound.  When I answered it, the lady on the phone explained that she worked for my insurance agency and was calling to confirm that I was indeed buying vehicle from that dealership.  That was both good and bad.

What Are Fossil Fuels?What Are Renewables?

COLUMN

What Are Fossil Fuels?

What Are Renewables?

By MIKE ZAGATA • for Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal

Based upon what I read in our papers, there seems to be a lack of information and/or understanding about fossil fuels and the so-called “renewables.”  This might be a good time to attempt to get all of us on the same page.

The descriptive term “fossil fuels” includes coal, oil and natural gas – the energy sources that were formed millions of years ago as sedimentary deposits in lakes and oceans.  They represent plant and animal material that settled to the bottom of those water bodies and were, over millions of years, subjected to pressure.  As a result, they were transformed into coal (hard coal or anthracite and soft coal or bituminous), oil and natural gas.  Because they took millions of years to form, they are considered to be non-renewable – some day we will run out of them.

So Far, 125 Sign Up For Energy Summit, With Limit Of 200

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

With Week To Go,

Energy Summit Fills

125 Of Its 200 Seats

Seeking ‘Balanced Agenda,’ 19 Speakers

Planned; Day Expands From 6 To 9 Hours

Jay Egg of Geothermal is keynoter at the Otsego Chamber’s “Energy Summit.”

COOPERSTOWN – With a week to go, 125 people have already signed up for the Otsego County Chamber’s “Energy Summit: Infrastructure & Economy,” and the day has expanded from the original six hours to a nine-hour program to accommodate a growing roster of speakers.

Planned Thursday, Jan. 31, at The Otesaga, the summit will be able to accommodate about 200 people.   To register, call 432-4500, extension 104, or email karen@otsegocc.com.

After announcing the original concept, the phone started ringing with suggested speakers, Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan said in an interview a few minutes ago, and she kept adding speakers to ensure “a balanced agenda.”

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