Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Keystone Pipeline

The Obama administration continues to resist expansion of oil production here at home and elsewhere on and offshore of the North American continent. A joint Canadian/USA proposal to build a pipeline to carry oil from the large tar sands area in Western Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas has been ruled against by Obama until "further evaluation" is completed. The latter is his excuse for doing nothing effective to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. That pipeline would also be a way to move oil out of the Baaken Field and the Williston Basin area where there's enough oil and gas tied up in shale to meet the nation's needs for many decades to come. The delay is ostensibly due to environmental concerns in Nebraska. Hundreds of thousand miles of pipelines have been built and are operating throughout the country. Breaks in those lines have been few and those that have occurred have been repaired and returned to service quickly with minimum damage to the environment.

Green Energy

Anyone who worked in the oil industry after 1945 is aware of the fact that the major oil companies have poured a lot of research money into alternative energy sources. Included in their efforts have been solar energy, nuclear energy, gas turbine technology, wind power, and fuel cells. They've also done a lot of work to improve the internal combustion process and minimize greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxides release to the atmosphere. Much work has also been done in hybrid power systems such as those found today on a number of car makes on the road today. Each of these alternatives offers promise with certain limitations that prevents any one of them from solving all of our energy problems. Depending on climate conditions and other variables, alternative sources combined with conventional fossil fuel energy sources can significantly reduce our dependency on OPEC oil if government will get out of the way.

"Green energy" is a term pushed by the Obama administration to hold favor with environmental activists most of whom know very little about the technologies and economics involved. The activists could care less about the economics involved so long as tax money continues to come in and the Treasury continues printing money. The idea of so-called "green energy" stems from the mistaken idea that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas" that causes global warming. The fact is global warming results from cyclical changes in the sun which moves the problem out of man's control. One cycle results in warming, the next results in cooling and the change between the two occurs about once every 200 years or so. We are now entering a cooling cycle if the research is accurate. Man's contribution is miniscule compared to the influence of the sun. That is not to say we shouldn't do what we can to further minimize our contribution so long as it doesn't adversely impact our economy.

While much of the research has found its way into public and commercial application, all of the proven practical alternatives combined do not come anywhere near to meeting the power generated in conventional fossil fuel driven systems. Will it ever happen ? Probably not in my lifetime (I'm 84 as this is being written), but I believe the day will come when fossil fuel energy production will be a thing of the past. Petroleum will still be used in its many non-energy applications existing today.

Energy and Politics

The current sdministration in Washington, DC seems to be doing everything it can to keep us on a sure road to a collectivist political system ending in something not much different than Orwell's 1984. Look in any direction and you will find examples of the administration's efforts to block measures to right the ship and put it back on the road intended by the founders in creating the Constitution of the United States of America. The examples are legion: Use of the BP oil spill as an excuse to stop expansion of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and block further drilling off the continental shelf...refuse approval of the Keystone Pipeline (see above)...expand the number of non-federal income tax payers to nearly half the current population...create increased dependency on the government for food, housing and unemployment compensation...and the list goes on ad nauseum.