03.4.2022

Fossil Fuels Should Evoke Pride, Not Pandering, From Supporters

By Gregory Wrightstone – March 4, 2022

EQT Corp. CEO Toby Rice powerfully argues for adding pipeline capacity to relieve New England of exorbitantly priced liquified natural gas (LNG) — then panders to climate alarmists. It’s disappointing.

“The problem is very straightforward,” writes the head of the country’s largest producer of natural gas in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The pipelines heading to New England are full, and as a result, we cannot physically flow that gas needed to meet growing demand without more infrastructure.”

The solution, says Mr. Rice, is to build more pipelines. He lists six that could have served more than 25 million Northeastern homes had they not been canceled or otherwise blocked. LNG is imported by New England from as far away as the Mideast at a price many times that of Marcellus Shale gas just a few hundred miles distant.

Mr. Rice makes great points, but then adds almost apologetically: The money New Englanders save by using domestic gas could be invested into “decarbonization opportunities, such as renewables.”

Really? Very likely, many New Englanders would prefer to put disposable income toward their children’s education or a vacation. Not only would those be more rational investments, but people are increasingly dismissing green energy as a public nuisance.

Robert Bryce reports in Forbes that U.S. communities have rejected or restricted more than 320 wind projects since 2015. In 2021 alone, 13 solar projects were turned down.

“The incurably low power density of wind and solar energy means that they require cartoonish amounts of land,” says Mr. Bryce. “Furthermore, the notion that there are plenty of rural towns and counties who just can’t wait to have forests of 600-foot-high wind turbines and oceans of solar panels inflicted upon them is nothing more than rank propaganda.”

Elsewhere in his letter, Mr. Rice soft-pedals the promise of the gas industry: “This is not an argument that natural gas should grow in perpetuity, or that renewables are not a viable solution.” Why should not gas usage grow? The fracking technology that is used to liberate the gas has been proven safe after more than 100,000 wells have been completed with no harm. It is the favored fuel by chefs to cook their food and homeowners to heat their homes. Why limit consumers’ options for no good reason?

Perhaps Mr. Rice believes that carbon-dioxide emissions from burning natural gas really are dangerous. If so, he should broaden his reading beyond the rantings of climate alarmists.

However, it is more likely that the Pittsburgh-based CEO is pandering. He is likely pretending that there is a need for a solution to a climate emergency that does not exist. Possibly he is allowing room for the delusions of the climate-crazed to make the sales of his product more acceptable to the loud fringe voices.

Mr. Rice has plenty of company. Check the website of the American Petroleum Institute: “The U.S. natural gas and oil industry is working to address the risks of climate change and build a lower-carbon future.” More pretending.

Or Exxon Mobil’s: “ExxonMobil aims to achieve net zero emissions.” It’s a dangerous pretense. Serious attempts to achieve this impossible goal would wreck economies and engender social upheaval.

Sixty miles northeast of EQT headquarters is Indiana, Pa., and Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Struzzi. He is a member of the Republican legislative majority trying to stop Democrat Governor Tom Wolf from imposing a carbon tax, which seeks to eliminate electricity generated by the burning of fossil fuels. With hundreds  — if not thousands — of his constituents’ jobs dependent on three nearby coal-fired plants, Rep. Struzzi has proposed replacing the Wolf tax with a program to capture the plants’ carbon-dioxide emissions.

Carbon capture, says Rep. Struzzi, offers a chance to have a “mutually inclusive” future of renewable energy with legacy fossil fuel infrastructure. It also appears to be an unworkable, pie-in-the-sky stab at satisfying the green lobby’s purported environmental concerns simply to be allowed to earn a living by making electricity.

“(O)f the 6,586 industrial and power plants in the United States, only 418 facilities that qualify for (federal carbon-capture tax) credits are capable of supplying carbon dioxide cheaply enough for carbon sequestration,” reports the Institute for Energy Research. With many millions of tons of carbon dioxide to be diverted to underground storage cavities, IER estimates the cost to be an expensive $29-$50 a ton, depending on the type of plant.

Whatever the technology’s feasibility, it would not improve the climate. The potency of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas already is near its peak. The effect of avoiding additional emissions would be unmeasurably small.

Climate alarmists waste our time with impractical solutions for a made-up problem.  Supporters of fossil fuels waste theirs by seeking the approval of a green lobby singularly focused on the destruction of an industry whose remarkable contributions — unprecedented prosperity and health — should evoke pride. We like this from an American Coal Council video:

“This is a tribute to all the proud coal miners out there who aren’t ashamed of their profession. The ones who are proud to be the backbone of this country…There is no greater purpose than ours.”

Gregory Wrightstone is a geologist and the Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition in Arlington Virginia. He is bestselling author of Inconvenient Facts: The Science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know.

This commentary was first published on March 4, 2022 at RealClear Energy.

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