Had a good conversation with a leader in the energy business in Minnesota this last week. We shared frustrations about a population that keeps bringing home more HDTVs, computers, etc., but objects to supplying the requisite electricity (as do their regulators).
On Friday, Minneapolis writer James Lileks touched on the petro-side of the same equation in his entertaining, generally eupeptic blog, The Bleat.
When I was in high school we weren’t supposed to have any oil left by now. Instead, they’re building a new pipeline to feed the Twin Cities at 165,000 barrels per day. As the Strib story put it today: “The pipeline has been the target of fierce complaints from private landowners in its planned path and from environmentalists who say the grown of renewable energy sources eventually will render it unnecessary.”
I agree completely. And since we’ll probably cure cancer in 30 years, I see no point to build hospitals today to treat people in ten years. Criminey joseph.
Joseph criminey, too. Being in a grousing mood, the item sent us in search of more stories about NIMBY-ism, energy myopia and general lack of understanding about the relationship between energy supply and a healthy economy. Things like Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley opposing a new liquified natural gas terminal, or Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, trying to block development of coal-fired power plants in Texas. Yes, Texas. Or Connecticut’s Legislature looking for ways to stop an LNG terminal. Or New York Governor Elliott Spitzer objecting to the renewal of the Indian Point II nuclear plant’s license. The stories abound. Alas.
But there is good news. Really. Consider the pipeline plans Lileks mentioned. The PUC said yes!
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to approve a $300 million oil pipeline that would deliver 165,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to refineries south of the Twin Cities. [snip] …”This project is reacting to the need that exists right now and in the immediate future,” said Patty Dunn, spokesman for Minnesota Pipeline Co.
And down Pascagoula way, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has OK’d the construction of two liquified natural gas import terminals in Jackson County, Miss. The authorization will bring an additional 3.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily to the Southeast market, increasing the number of U.S. LNG projects to 18.
FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher said LNG import facilities are critical as the natural gas market becomes more international.
“The North American natural gas market is changing.” he said. “The plain fact is that North American gas supply is no longer adequate to meet North American gas demand. Our gas market is no longer a U.S. gas market, and increasingly is no longer a North American market.”
Instead, the U.S. is becoming part of a broader international gas market, Kelliher said, adding that as that trend advances, LNG import capacity is necessary to receive gas supplies from other countries.
Well, of course that’s right, and some people — even regulators! — acknowledge this reality.
Our point? Progress is possible. With education and explanation, we can raise the public’s energy IQ so projects — coal and nuclear power plants, LNG terminals, pipelines, transmission facilities, etc. — are debated in a balanced way, recognizing that the nation’s economic growth depends on a diverse, reliable, affordable and adequate energy supply.
The NAM last week released its comprehensive strategy to achieve that goal, “Energy Security for American Competitiveness.” Give it a look. And, in words we’ll take to heart, consider that it’s better to supply the power to light an energy-efficient bulb than it is to curse the darkness.
Grousing’s permitted, though. At least sometimes.
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