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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feel good, wreak havoc   

Now for a little more “feel good while we wreak havoc” nonsense.

For and against fracking flics

There’s a Limousine Liberal “documentary” out that shows how fracking destroys the countryside. (Fracking is using hydraulic pressure to crack rocks containing oil or gas, and displace the fuel with a liquid, such as water. It’s been used in fuel mining for quite a while and is one of the reasons so much more fuel is available with so much less environmental impact.)

One of the “shockers” the video exposes is tap water that burns, with the implication that burning water, earthquakes and various disasters follow fracking. Most of the “burning water” started well before fracking was developed, though, but the “documentary” conveniently ignores this. What is burned is the methane in the aquifer.

A documentary opposing the “Limousine Liberal” attack film is Fracknation. This film is better supported, and certainly makes a good case for modern gas and oil extraction. It is not completely unbiased, though. Find it here

Get away from Arab oil

Last November the New York Times stated that the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by 2017. Fracking is part of the reason that so much more oil and gas can be extracted from United States land.

That increased oil production, combined with new American policies to improve energy efficiency, means that the United States will become “all but self-sufficient” in meeting its energy needs in about two decades — a “dramatic reversal of the trend” in most developed countries. Is that good or bad?

Examine the consequences

Well, let’s look at coal. Coal powered electrical plants in the U.S. must comply with so many restrictions to avoid environmental dangers that they are too expensive to build. Another factor, of course, is the cost of meeting all of the regulatory requirements, typically taking millions of dollars.

Since the US demand is limited, the coal miners send the coal to China, a major pollution source with few environmental regulations. China gets electrical power and lots of jobs, the air, sea, and (Chinese) land get polluted and environmentalists feel good because no “dirty” coal power is being developed -- here.

If we drill and frack here. . .

The environment is heavily protected in the United States. That means that becoming a major oil producer is good for the US, good for jobs, and better for the environment than most of the alternatives. However, we make it harder and harder to get permission to drill. For example, the applications for oil and gas drilling in California take 307 days on average, and stack over eight feet high.

Alternatives limited and with consequences

How about wind and solar power? They are limited to certain areas, and they require a lot of ground. They pose environmental hazards such as being a significant danger to raptors. But worst of all, they cover a lot of ground with big, ugly panels or windmills.

In contrast, modern oil and gas rigs can direct their drills at an angle, so only a few derricks appear as the field is developed. Then a few, relatively small pumps remain in the area for 30 years or so, and are then dismantled.

For equivalent power, in areas where wind is fairly constant, a windmill field the size of Costa Mesa would supply as much electrical power as the gas produced from a well system smaller than Triangle Square and less than six feet tall.

Protect environment, wreak havoc on it

So, in trying to protect the environment – and feel good – we wreak havoc. We add to air and especially ocean pollution through Chinese power plants. And we insist on buying foreign oil from, in many cases, folks who hate us. And, as they conspire to set higher and higher prices, we pay at the pump. But, the Limousine Liberals point out; at least we’re not drilling wells.

Economic havoc too

Perhaps worse, in California we are preventing many thousands of people from working at well-paying jobs.

For example, in North Dakota right now, jobs driving a water truck and earning $2,500 per week are abundant. And, Tim Wigley, President of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver cites evidence that if the Keystone Xl pipeline project is approved, 2,500 jobs will open almost immediately. Eventually about 9000 Americans will be employed just on the project. About Keystone

Or, we can encourage the Canadians to build their pipeline to a port and ship the oil overseas. While we feel smug we actually add to pollution, enrich our enemies, and damage our economy. We merely change the pipeline’s route. We feel good and wreak havoc.

Feeling good can be expensive – and misguided. It’s worth looking into the consequences of development, surely. But it’s also wise to look at the consequences of blocking development.

It's similar in Costa Mesa

That’s just as true in the City of Costa Mesa as it is in the United States as a whole. We’re looking at taking over and maintaining Talbert Park. This development should make us feel good, and it will be good for the City.

Some oppose the Park’s acquisition and development. They’d like us to save the money involved to pay their personal (City) pensions when the State system collapses. (That’s CalPers, the fund that’s supposed to invest the money we citizens pay them. The idea is, they’ll earn 7.5% on their wise investments and pay the retired City employee pensions. If they don’t earn enough Costa Mesa makes up the difference.)

Oppose progress for personal gain

Opponents feel good about opposing the City’s growth, without thinking about the consequences. If we don’t attract successful and productive families to Costa Mesa, City income won’t increase enough to make a difference in their comfortable pensions’ longevity.

That is, opposing the City’s growth makes them feel good. But if their opposition is effective, they’ll wreak havoc.
We need to learn to evaluate consequences instead of how good it makes us feel.

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