|The urgent need for a reliable and ample supply of energy resources continues to be a major issue on the current political agenda nationwide. Indeed it should be. The standards of living of the various nations around the world can be directly related to the availability of energy and its cost. The more energy available at an affordable cost the higher the standard of living. That has been true for generations. The need for energy and its use are complicated by the environmentatl arguements and the geopolitical concerns about importing foreign oil.
The current administration recently announced the opening up of additional drilling areas off the East coast, the Gulf of Mexico and limited portions of Alaska. But that exercise in political gamemanship does not address the issue realistically or in a practical manner. It is well and good but rings hollow in face of our needs and reality. While announcing the new areas for exploration we continue to promote a policy of increased use of ethanol which any thinking person by now realizes is not cost efficient, favors only a special interest group and is not as good for the environment because it takes more energy to produce and a gallon of ethanol is about 15% less efficient than a gallon of gasoline.
It is wonderful to talk about wind and solar as the future of power and energy. There is nothing wrong with developing as much as the market will bear and certainly a good idea to continue research and development of those potential resources. But the fact is they are only 1% of our energy production and will not be able to offer a significant contribution to our energy needs for at least a generation if not longer. They may or may not be the answer to our power needs for our grandchildren but they won’t do anything for the present generation except cost exhorbitant sums in the form of subsidies to favored industries. If those were practical and available means of energy plenty of private money would pour into those areas and subsidies would not be necessary.
We have a source available now in natural gas. It can be used as the fuel for electricity power generating plants and as a direct fuel source for vehicles. There doesn’t have to be years of research of tinkering to figure our how to make it work. We can do that and in very short order. If it starting supplying only 20% of the electricity and only 15% of the vehicles used it for fuel we would be savings billions per year and it would create untold thousands of jobs and definitely increase our security since we would not have to import one mcf of gas. The impact on our balance of trade deficit would be enormous and strengthen the US dollar along the way.
Natural gas is much cleaner than oil as it burns and the environmentalist should love it. It would be a much more practical and effective means of reducing emissions if that is an important goal and could be achieved in a matter of years, not decades. For some reason there are those who have raised questions regarding environmental concerns about leaks of gas as dangerous and alleged pollution of underground water supplies. The technology for drilling for gas has been with us for a century and is an area where dramatic improvement has been made in the last 20 years regarding drilling techniques and recovery of usable gas. That is why we have such an abundance, we can now utilize gas that was impossible to recover only 20 years ago.
Yes, gas can cause explosions and will. But let’s put that into some perspective. I can recall only one episode in my lifetime where workers or others died of gas poisoning in the field due to a leak. That was in West Texas about 20 years ago. Many more people die of monoxide gas poisoning every year than will ever die of gas exposure. How many people die every year from electrocution? Power lines come down due to storms and just for an accident and people get killed. How many homes or buildings are burned every year because of an electrical wiring fault? Yes, bad things will happen no matter what we do. I sure wouldn’t want to be near one of those windmills when a blade came lose. Man can’t devise a completely fail safe method to produce power. That is a fact. Natural gas is no more dangerous than any other means of supplying our energy needs and those needs will only grow. Or at least I hope they continue to grow lest we begin a retreat in our standard of living. Remember that the US uses more energy per capita than any nation of earth, but also recall that our cost of energy per capita is the lowest in the world, we are very efficient already with our energy use and hope we will get even better.
Let’s hope the powers that be will embrace out expanded use of natural gas immediately and we can use it for a generation or two for our needs. I am optimistic that some day we really will develop a new method to produce power. We just need to get there with a decent standard of living.
How much longer can we count on China to finance our governmental policies? As long as it is profitable to them is the answer. When they start to fear inflation then watch them pull back on buying our Treasuries. They don’t want to be paid later with 70 cents of the dollar. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com