Saturday, June 11, 2011


The Illogic of Lefty Energy Policy

I haven't written about left wing columnist and local radio host David Sirota for perhaps a year, because his columns in the Denver Post have been like Gertrude Stein's opinion of Oakland, CA. However, here is a bold, totally illogical, half-truth propaganda piece by Mr. Sirota worth examining.

David wants us to adapt the Hippocratic "First, do no harm" ethos to energy policy. It doesn't really fit, because supplying energy to the masses is actually nothing like trying to help a sick or injured patient recover; but despite the square peg in round hole start, Mr. Sirota strikes out further.

The examples of energy production he starts with are nuclear (Fukushima reactor meltdown after huge earthquake and tsunami) and natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing of the formation containing the gas ('fracking'). You might think that the first is actually an example of the rare and extreme rather than the day to day normal, but it is the second choice which is really underhanded, as I hope to show.

In the wake of the damage to energy infrastructure by the 9.o earthquake, etc. he says Japan has "canceled plans to build 14 new nuclear plants and [is] now moving to pursue solar rather than atomic energy." Good luck with that, Japan; of course, with one of the lowest birth rates in the world, in 50 years maybe solar could produce enough power for the 2/3 fewer Japanese citizens than exist now. There's no way even a crash program in solar could light the Ginza much less the needs of the current 127 million inhabitants.

Funny that he doesn't mention the 40 odd coal fired plants Germany is building to replace the on-again-off-again canceled nukes. Some of these plants are coming on line soon. Nor does he mention French electrical production, which is wholly reliant on nuclear power (77%) and which sensibly reprocesses its fuel (we don't) so that nuclear waste there is a tiny fraction of ours and no problem. Moving on.

Sirota writes about natural gas:

Over the last few years, more evidence has surfaced that suggests drinking water may be getting contaminated by fracking — a drilling technique that involves injecting toxic chemicals into the earth. This evidence runs the gamut from a New York Times report on fracking wastewater being dumped into rivers, to Pennsylvania gas companies acknowledging that fracking is contaminating drinking water, to those now-famous YouTube videos of combustible tap water.

Where to start? Actually there is no evidence of drinking water contamination from fracking. The EPA chief has admitted this. There are allegations but very weak, and few, actually. Allegations are not evidence. Oh, and fracking is achieved by using 98% sand and water and 2% chemicals, most of which are totally harmless. There have been spills and one casing failure, but no Pennsylvania gas companies (notice the plural) have acknowledged that fracking is contaminating drinking water. He just made that up. Notice the lack of links in that paragraph. Here is one link. Here's another. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Now let's get to Gaslands. That's where the footage of combustible tap water comes from, this Oscar nominated propaganda film which has been debunked and debunked. The flaming water is, in fact, just less than 70 miles north of where I sit (in my basement, in my pajamas), up in Weld County. Colorado's Oil and Gas Commission investigated the flaming water and determined that its origins were organic CH4--something's being eaten by bacteria in the aquifer, and the gas in the water is the byproduct--which has nothing at all to do with gas produced from drilling. Nothing. Indeed, the flaming water predated gas drilling, as Gaslands' less than honest director admits here.

Funny that Sirota doesn't mention the truth.

For me, however, this is the telling part:

Meanwhile, the White House's one seeming tilt toward caution — its panel to study fracking — ended up being a sham, as six of the administration's seven appointments have direct ties to the energy industry.

So the people who know the most about the exploration and production of gas are suspect, and people with, say, a BA from Northwestern in poli sci and journalism, and absolutely no real knowledge or expertise in the area, are the go to guys for energy policy. Yeah, right.

If these guys really cared about CO2 production from electrical generation (which I don't--we're at near saturation for the ever decreasing effect of CO2 in the atmosphere so that even a doubling now will have merely a minor, difficult to measure, effect) they would know that nuclear produces none and natural gas produces half that of coal. While the lefty power generators of choice, solar and wind, don't produce CO2, they also don't produce any electricity either, less than 1% here in America, nowhere more than 3%. If you want to end up cold and hungry in the dark, regulate coal to death, ban new gas production and close all the operating nuke plants. President Obama is only beating up on coal, so far, which tells you just how out there Mr. Sirota is. Way out there.

I'll just state for the record that an organic farm in Lower Saxony* Germany has recently killed more people than died in the BP gulf oil platform blowout and the Fukushima meltdown combined. Mr. Sirota should consider who, in fact, is doing the harm, and who is bringing literal light to the darkness.

UPDATE: *Corrected from "southern" Germany. Thanks, Freefall.


Mr. Roger Fraley writes of the German e-coli source as an organic farm in southern Germany. The German organic farm in question is in Lower Saxony, which is in NORTHERN Germany. Mr. Fraley appears to have the sort of geographic knowledge that is typical of his insular right-wing compatriots. His claim is akin to a German referring to Pennsylvania as being in the southern U.S.
Thanks for setting me straight on German geography. Of course Saxony is in Northern Germany so the Saxons could get to England easily. It's possible my German roots are Frisian.
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