FERC accused of failing to address pipelines’ impacts

South Texas faces the prospect of 3 of these offshore LNG terminals off its pristine, environmentally sensitive coast if FERC holds true to its history

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – is (supposedly) an independent tasked with regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. According to its own website, it reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects.

Among FERC’s responsibilities, it:

  • Ensures the safe operation and reliability of proposed and operating LNG terminals and
  • Oversees environmental matters related to natural gas and hydroelectricity projects and other matters

However, according to a news report, “the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected only two pipelines over the last 30 years out of the hundreds proposed, according to an investigation that paints the regulatory body as particularly cozy with the industry it oversees.”

For anyone involved in managing statistics, the truth will out – numbers don’t lie.

“Between mid-2010 and 2016, large energy companies scheduled at least 93 meetings with FERC officials, compared with the 17 meetings scheduled with environmental and public-interest groups, according to emails and official calendars.”

Here in South Texas, we’re facing the possibility – more likely probability – of 3 offshore LNG terminals off the coast of Brownsville. FERC will be reviewing these applications & considering the public comments they’ve received before determining whether or not to approve these applications.

Approving them would spell disaster for pristine, environmentally sensitive ecosystems in the area and potentially put large numbers of people at risk, should there ever be a leak or explosion, which the industry is well-known for having.

But with such a dark, almost rubber stamping history to go by, it doesn’t seem like there’s much light at the end of this tunnel for the citizens of South Texas, or for the endangered species that call this area home.

Time will tell but we shouldn’t hold our breath, hoping that this self-proclaimed quasi judiciary agency will do the “right” thing. Do you suppose it would help to wish on a lucky star instead?

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North Carolina plant soon to convert human waste for energy

It may seem odd or even bizarre for some, but a North Carolina wastewater treatment plant will soon begin converting human waste to energy.

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New efficiency Standards – good for consumers and the environment

The Dept. of Energy announced new federal energy efficiency standards for washers and dishwashers

The drive for greater energy efficiency has become part of our culture. So to is the growing awareness that water is a precious commodity we can no longer take for granted.

Manufacturers recognize that consumers are demanding better performing and less wasteful products. This resulted in 2010 in a gathering of oddfellows that under other circumstances wouldn’t have occurred.

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Apples to Apples: Solar and Wind less costly than Coal and Oil

The following is a guest blog by Tom Rooney of SPGsolar. 

CoalEveryone knows solar and wind power are more expensive than oil and coal.

Everyone except the National Academy of Sciences.

So they put it to the test: They found coal and oil and natural gas are artificially cheap because they impose health and financial and environmental costs that all of us pay for — above and beyond the price. Whether we know it or not.

Whether we like it or not.

Sounds kind of like a subsidy, doesn’t it? It’s exactly like a subsidy.

Apples to apples? Solar and wind are often less expensive than coal and oil.

The Academy estimates that coal and oil drain $130 billion in hidden costs out of our economy. Coal is subsidized to the tune of 3 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour of energy – about 25 to 100 percent of what you pay for power.

The report comes just in time — right after the biggest energy disaster in this country’s history.

And right before a campaign to reduce support for alternative energy which some say requires subsidies and is more expensive than fossil fuels.

Coal and oilPeople like Republican functionary Christopher Horner, whose new book proclaims that renewable energy will “bankrupt” this country and is a “declaration of war against America’s most reliable sources of energy—coal, oil, and natural gas.”

Or the usually reliable Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore, who says renewable energy such as wind and solar is a plot between Big Government and Big Labor.

Before I became a card carrying member of this conspiracy and the CEO of a solar energy company, I studied for an MBA at the University of Chicago. There I was lucky enough, on many occasions, to meet the inspiration for many solar skeptics – America’s greatest economist Milton Friedman.

More than just a libertarian icon, Friedman just wanted to know what things cost. Not their price, their cost.

You do not need a Nobel Prize to see the freshman mistake of those who say wind and solar are too expensive to compete with coal and oil: They confuse price with cost.

But still we hear that coal and oil and natural gas are cheaper. Which is like the guy who throws garbage over his neighbor’s fence, then brags about free trash disposal. But really, someone else is paying for it.

The Academy said it was too complicated to estimate the largest hidden cost of energy — the price we pay in sending our best and bravest into harm’s way to guarantee our supply of foreign oil.

You want to put a price tag on that? Go ahead. Just make sure the number starts with a T. And if you throw your garbage over the fence, count that too.

—- Tom Rooney is the CEO of SPG Solar (SPGsolar.com).