Tag Archives: fossil fuels

No. 1 issue? Climate change

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If someone were to ask me about the top priority facing the president of the United States, I would place climate change at the top of the list of “existential threats” that needs our attention.

Donald J. Trump is a lost cause on that one. He calls climate change/global warming a “hoax.” He pushes for more fossil fuel drilling and development; he has pulled the nation out of the Paris Climate Accords that establishes a framework for cutting carbon emissions; he has been silent on deforestation.

The wildfires that have ravaged several western states are essentially the direct result of climate change. Trump’s answer? He calls on states to sweep the forest floor clean of dead trees that provide fuel for the fires.

This is where Joe Biden can deliver the goods if he is elected president. Oh, how I hope that happens 36 days from now.

He said he would return to the Climate Accords. Biden has vowed to invest in clean energy technology. He vows to work with Congress — where he served for 36 years before being elected vice president in 2008 — to find common ground on legislative solutions to this growing threat to the only planet we can call home.

Trump is clueless. He is feckless. He is reckless in his declarations of “hoax.”

The men will face off tonight in the first of three debates. May the better man — and I consider him to be Joe Biden — return climate change to the front edge of the top shelf of issues that need presidential attention.

Reinvest in renewables

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Politics is everywhere, including places where it doesn’t belong.

As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden notes, fires and hurricanes don’t discriminate between “red and blue states.” He is seeking to rely on science to determine what the national response should be to fight what he has identified correctly as an existential threat to the nation.

That is climate change.

Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and began dismantling environmental rules and regulations established by the Obama administration. He fought to restore a full-throttle fossil fuel exploratory policy.

What the president ignored is that Obama’s effort to develop clean, renewable energy actually contributed to this nation’s independence from foreign-produced fossil fuels. Do you recall when Republicans blasted Hillary Clinton for saying in 2016 that she intended to eliminate jobs related to the coal industry? They ignored the rest of her statement, which was that she intended to replace those jobs with those associated with renewable energy development.

So it was prior to the time Donald Trump took office.

The Pacific Coast wildfires are the direct result of a changing worldwide climate, as scientists have affirmed. Trump is casting aside those analyses. He said “forest management” needs improvement, which he insists will prevent the explosive fires that have incinerated more than 4 million acres in California, Oregon and Washington.

Joe Biden is vowing for all he is worth to restore the effort to develop renewable energy sources. I haven’t heard him say he would propose ending fossil fuel exploration and development.

We have on our hands a direct national security threat that has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with the changing climate that is bringing untold destruction in the form of fire, heavy wind, shattering coastal surf.

This great nation needs national leadership from the top of the governmental chain of command. It isn’t getting it from the individual in charge at this moment. I am quite confident we will receive it when we replace him with someone who will listen intently to scientists who know what they are talking about.

OPEC to cut production; get ready for a price increase at the fuel pump

As a red-blooded American consumer of goods and certain commodities, I cannot endorse a nearly 10 percent reduction in the production of petroleum products.

You see, I am one of those Americans who has no problem watching the price of automobile fuels plummet. I looked today at the price of gasoline and diesel in Princeton, Texas, and saw the gas price at $1.41 per gallon, with the price of diesel at $2.11.

Not bad, eh?

The plummeting fuel prices are a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Motor vehicles are becoming a rare sight on our streets and highways. Businesses are shuttered. Employees have lost their jobs. The economy is tanking.

Are we supposed to be salute OPEC and other oil-producing nations — including the U.S. of A. — for enacting a policy that is going to bite a bit more deeply into our budgets? I won’t do that.

I’d rather take the longer view.

I would prefer to see fossil fuel companies reinvest their still-substantial largesse into alternative energy sources. I am a bigger fan of renewable energy — wind, solar and hydropower — than I am in depleting fossil fuels, which I hasten to add is a finite resource.

Donald Trump hailed the reduction in output as a boon to the oil industry. I guess it is. However, we are going to pay a price farther down the road as we continue to guzzle this resource and, dare I say, pollute the air we breathe.

Whipsawed between emergency and opportunity

I posted an item this morning on Facebook that said the following: Gasoline selling for $1.59/gallon; diesel for $2.17/gallon in Princeton, Texas. Good — no, great! — for consumers.

Where do I began to analyze the irony of that so-called benefit? I’ll give it a try.

The sharp decline in fuel prices seemingly would be a net benefit for a nation reeling under the weight of tragic circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. I am not going to make a single bit of light over the sadness and heartache associated with the illness and the consequences it has brought.

The falling fuel prices are the result of plummeting demand. Texas has issued a shelter in place restriction, as have many other states. We don’t dare go anywhere. Nothing is open. Plus, we don’t want to put ourselves in jeopardy or possibly others as well. We aren’t burning automobile fuel.

My wife and I drive a big Dodge diesel-powered pickup; it’s our sole motor vehicle. The price of fuel is dropping, although not nearly as rapidly as gasoline prices have declined.

We are unwilling and mostly unable to take advantage of the return of relatively cheap motor fuel.

What will happen when the threat dissipates? Or when governors, mayors and county officials tell us it’s safe enough for us to start resuming our daily lives?

The demand for motor vehicle fuel will return. It will put some additional strain on the supply of the fuel that at this moment is sitting there … in tremendous abundance.

My point is that while the drop in fuel prices looks at first blush like a positive development, it isn’t really … given that the overwhelming worldwide circumstances of the moment are preventing us from taking full advantage of what has occurred.

U.S. is shamefully MIA at climate change conference

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

They’re convening an international conference on climate change.

As my dear late Mom would say, I’ll give you three guesses on which nation is missing from that conference … but the first two guesses don’t count.

That’s right. The United States of America ain’t there.

We should be. Why? Well, let’s see. We’re the most industrialized nation on Earth. We are the world leader in scientific research. Our factories pour out tons of carbon emissions into the air annually. We occupy the bulliest of pulpits of any nation the planet.

But we’re not there because the president of the United States, Donald John Trump, calls climate change a “hoax.” Trump yanked the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, saying it would be too burdensome on U.S. businesses. The accord carries the names of virtually every country on the planet … except the U.S. of A.

This is how the president intends to “make America great again” or “keep America great.” He wants to isolate the nation from a world made “smaller” in a proverbial sense by modern technology.

The United States made great strides in weaning ourselves of dependence on foreign-produced fossil fuels largely through development of alternate energy resources and, yes, more production of oil and natural gas. Trump wants to develop more “clean coal” and wants to drill for even more petroleum-based products. How is that going to stem the warming of the planet and the changing of its climate? Short answer: It won’t.

We are shaming ourselves by failing to attend the conference that seeks to find remedies to what has become established as an existential threat to every nation on Earth.

As the world’s pre-eminent economic power, we need to be heard and we need to listen to what our Earthly neighbors are telling us.

Texas is becoming the ‘windy state’

We’re No. 1! It’s a common refrain heard on fields of athletic competition in Texas.

However, Texas has achieved a top-tier ranking in a most fascinating — and one might say unexpected — category. Texas has become the most wind-powered state in the Union. Texas is known more for its pump jacks that pull oil out of the ground. They’re still doing all over the state, but wind power is not to be denied.

I just posted a blog item lamenting the lack of discussion about climate in the upcoming presidential campaign. Here, though, is a reason to hope that Texas might become a leader in the discussion and promotion of wind energy.

The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind has replaced coal as the leading provider of electricity in this state. Yes, natural gas remains a huge energy source. Texas, though, has seen a skyrocketing rise in wind energy over the past several years.

I am happy to report that my wife and I have sat at a ringside seat while Texas has become a major wind-power producer. We used to live just a bit east of the wind farm in Adrian pictured along with this blog post. We’ve since moved on to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but the wind energy industry is continuing to grow significantly along the High Plains of Texas.

This is exciting news.

Wind power remains a costly endeavor. It is expensive to produce and store electricity generated by wind. Believe me, though, the Texas Panhandle has an infinite supply of wind, which to my mind is the cleanest possible energy source possible. Whereas petroleum, natural gas and coal are finite resources, the wind will always blow.

I usually am quite critical of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, however, I want to give Gov. Perry — who is soon to depart as secretary of energy — a proverbial high five for presiding over much of Texas’s wind-power development during his lengthy stint as governor. And, no, it didn’t hurt a bit to say something good about the man the late columnist Molly Ivins dubbed “Governor Goodhair.” 

So, the wind will blow in Texas. The state’s growth will require more electrical use. The wind will continue to play a growing role in fulfilling those power needs … and our precious environment won’t suffer a bit.

Trump shows off his energy ignorance

Just about the time you think Donald Trump cannot demonstrate any greater degree of ignorance on important matters, he pops off to one of his right-wing fanatics.

The president of the United States is insisting that wind energy is a waste of money, it doesn’t work when the wind doesn’t blow and that he intends to continue to push for revival of the coal industry.

He and Fox News’ Sean Hannity exchanged ignorant rants this week about wind power, which Trump has detested for years.

I believe the president needs to acquaint himself with the secretary of energy, Rick Perry. I would bet real money that the former Texas governor might have a markedly different view of the value of wind power than the man who nominated him to the Cabinet post.

It was on Perry’s watch as Texas governor that the state became a leading producer of wind-generated electricity. Perry signed off on legislation allowing for the construction of wind turbines all across West Texas. Yep, they turn constantly out there on the High Plains, the South Plains, along the Trans-Pecos.

The electricity generated by those turbines — or “windmills,” as Trump refers to them — is replacing energy produced by fossil fuels. DOE’s website says this: “Grid operators use the interconnected power system to access other forms of generation when contingencies occur and continually turn generators on and off when needed to meet the overall grid demand.”

Trump isn’t sold. He continues to foment the canard about the hazard the turbines pose for migrating birds. Yes, some birds are injured or killed when they fly into the turbines. The Energy Department says the numbers are insignificant and that wind turbines pose less of a threat to fowl than buildings. According to IJR Blue’s website: Wind turbines do present a threat to birds, but the Energy Department points out that these deaths are rare and that habitat destruction and development of infrastructures such as roads and powerlines poses a much greater threat.

Trump’s shallowness reminds me of the time U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a noted climate change denier, brought a snowball to the Senate floor one winter to say that because it was cold outside that day in Washington that Earth’s changing climate poses no threat to anyone or anything.

Yep. We are being governed by an ignoramus.

Give thanks to Saudis? I don’t think so

The president of the United States says Americans should “give thanks” to Saudi Arabia for the relatively low cost of gasoline.

I don’t think I’ll do that.

I will give thanks instead to a domestic energy policy that has enabled the United States to achieve energy independence. I’ll give thanks to a president, Barack Obama, who had the foresight to insist on an energy policy that sought to develop alternative sources of energy.

I’ll also give thanks to automakers for developing more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. My wife and I own one, a Toyota Prius, that we gas up about every, oh, three or four weeks.

No, I don’t believe the Saudis are our friends. They are murderers. The president likes to foment fear of terrorists coming to this country from Latin America. Hell, the Saudis are the breeding ground for terrorist monsters; 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew those commercial jets into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 hailed from Saudi Arabia.

Am I going to give thanks to Saudi Arabia for anything? Cheap gasoline? Energy independence? For their alliance with us against Iran and other hardline states in the Middle East?

Hah! Hardly.

Energy prices up, then down, then up . . .

Donald Trump is cheering the drop in oil prices. So am I. I don’t like paying more for gasoline than I can afford. So, I am enjoying watching the price of crude take a tumble.

But wait a second! Didn’t the president come into office declaring his intention to shore up the fossil fuel industry? He tossed some of the environmental regulations approved during the Obama administration, claiming they hurt drillers’ ability to explore for oil.

The other thing that hurt drillers was, um, the price of oil. Back when it was around $100 per barrel, pump jacks all over Texas and the rest of the Oil Patch that had gone silent when the prices fell were restarted. They began pumping the “Texas Tea” out of the ground.

Why, then, does the president say this in a Twitter message:

Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!

His Pennsylvania Avenue cheering section seems to suggest now that he wants the price to keep falling. A lot of West Texas wildcatters are unhappy with the trend. They don’t want to see it continue. They want it to go the other way.

I happen to hope it doesn’t, just like the president.

But why didn’t the president say anything in that tweet about developing alternative energy sources? President Obama made quite a push to do so during his two terms in office. The result was that we became effectively “energy independent.” The U.S. of A. became the world’s leading oil producer. Meanwhile, we invested in wind, solar and hydropower to take the burden off those wildcatters and Big Oil to keep producing.

Which is it now? Are we going to cheer the plunging oil prices or wish them to increase?

Donald Trump, per usual, is sending a mixed — or perhaps confused — message to the world.

***

And of course, the bouquet the president tossed to Saudi Arabia — in light of his hideous acceptance of the Saudis’ denial in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist — sends another chilling message altogether. More on that one to come.

Waiting for the wind to become part of our energy policy

SNYDER, Texas — This picture really doesn’t do justice to the subject of this blog post, but I thought I’d show it anyway.

I snapped this shot Thursday as we sped along U.S. Highway 84 on our way to Interstate 20. I intended for it to show the seemingly endless array of wind turbines along this stretch of West Texas highway.

It begs a question I have had kicking around my noggin for some time: Where is U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and why isn’t he using his new federal platform to carry the message of wind power to the nation?

I ask the question for what I believe is a valid reason. He served for 14 years as Texas governor and on his watch as the state’s leader, Texas became a model for alternative energy production through the use of wind turbines. Texas and California moved to the head of the line in the promotion of wind energy.

Think about that for a moment: Two states with wildly different political profiles had this one important energy-related matter in common!

You see them everywhere in West and South Texas. For as far as you can see — and even if you stand up on your tip toes — you see the turbines blowin’ in the wind. They are cranking out megawatts of electrical power. For every megawatt of wind-generated electricity, that’s a megawatt that is not necessarily produced by fossil fuels.

Wind energy is as clean as it gets. “Clean coal” is a misnomer, yet the Donald Trump administration keeps harping on its plan to “save” coal jobs by producing clean coal energy.

Those of us who live — or have lived — in West Texas also know that wind energy is the ultimate renewable energy source. Those fossil fuels? They’re finite, man! You pull the oil out of the ground, it’s gone forever. The wind keeps coming. It keeps blowing. It keeps providing “fuel” to make those turbines turning and making energy.

Rick Perry knows how this system works. If only he would use his Cabinet post as a bully pulpit to promote it to the rest of the energy industry.

His silence is quite unbecoming.