Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why we will not "produce" ourselves...

Out of the energy crisis.  The reasons are simple:
  1. Finding and processing fossil fuels (or any type of energy) has to occur somewhere.
  2. That somewhere isn't in the US any more, if local citizens have anything to say about it.
One reason we are short on gas is aging refineries.  But try to build a new one.
 But while the county as a whole favored the project by a 58 percent majority on June 3, most of the rural voters whose land would be affected by the refinery said no.

"I'll keep fighting it," said farmer Dale Harkness, whose front yard could one day face the refinery, which would also need a pipeline to be built.

He and his wife, Carol, vow to fight in the courts to prevent a project they say is speculative at best, and at worst will pollute the land, creeks and skies of this tiny town for generations to come.

"They will never build here. 150 years from now someone will be enjoying that land and this land," Harkness said, pointing to the property around him.  [More]

The big problem with wind farms is access to the gridBut try to string some hi-voltage wires.

We're sitting on umpty-squat bazillion tons of coal. But try to dig it up.
The United States is rich with coal, and mountaintop removal has begun to replace underground mining in Appalachia as the preferred method of extraction because of its efficiency and lower cost. Mountaintop removal involves leveling mountains with explosives to reach seams of coal. The debris that had once been the mountain is usually dumped by bulldozers and huge trucks into neighboring valleys, burying streams.

The coal industry asserts that mountaintop removal is a safer way to remove coal than sending miners underground and that without it, companies would have to close mines and lay off workers.  [More]

We know nuclear power has the best environmental record and operating history.  But try to build a new plant.
I am not saying this opposition is wrong-headed.But these are the reasons we are building our 40 Year Farm Plan based on increasingly expensive energy of all kinds.  (I dunno - 40 years sounded kinda biblical)

While we lightly dismiss the NIMBY syndrome in the US, until another generation is in control who can glimpse a greater good, all the red-faced arguing in the world about energy dependence and gas prices is futile.  It doesn't matter we could produce more.  

What matters is we won't.

*Even though we all know the right answer.


Ol James said...

This is a good post Mr. John!! I believe there are economical and ecological or common sense answers to these problems. The biggest hindrance to the answers is this: Some,(don't take this personal given your liberal stance, after all I like ya), handful of whiny-tree huggin-bunny lovin-throwback to the 60's, group will more than likely set the precedent and principle for the rest of the country to live by. Washington politics are proof that the minority outweighs the majority. There is a voice in DC, and it's cash that talks the loudest.
Glad to hear you got back alright from your trip.

Anonymous said...

I live in SD so know a little bit about the refinery issue. Granted, we need new refineries, but why did they pick the garden spot of the state for the site? The proposed Trans Canada crude oil pipeline that will run past the proposed refinery site to the St Louis area will have something like 48 pumping stations to pump that gloppy stuff, each one requiring 4-5,000 horsepower. Where is the energy conservation in that? Wouldn't it pump a lot easier as a refined product? Why not put the refinery closer to the source of the tar sand oil and in a more remote area? But no, the big money just rolls in and says this is the way it's going to be, sign this or we will sue you. Good public relations?

Anonymous said...


You don't know what the price of energy will be in 10 years, let alone 40. Don't base any long-term plans on this type of assumption. In strategic planning, the most important value, by far, needs to be flexibility and adaptation. Rather than try to predict future markets, you need to be able to answer this question:" What skills and structure do I need to be able to recognize, adapt to, and profit from whatever forces are affecting my business."

Now having said that, no 10-25-or 40-year plan is actually any more than a 3-5 year plan anyway. That's just the way it is, and it works out pretty well. It is certainly worth the effort.


John Phipps said...


I do not doubt the sincerity or validity of your objections. But the result is the same as if you were simply obstructionist - no refinery. And it is the same result for people all over the US.

Hence my plan to assume production won't increase domestically.


I agree there are unknowns in long term plans, but the rewards accompany the risks. We make long term plans all the time and reap our largest benefits from them.

I'm leaving to help my friend celebrate 50 years of marriage. Trust me, this was never a 3-5 year plan. Neither is having children, buying land, planting trees, etc.

I don't deny the tactical adjustments along the way but our 40 year plan really exists. And it helps keep up focused.

Anonymous said...

As we've learned in CT, never underestimate the power of eminent domain. If some government, or worse, corporate interest decides we need the plant or refinery bad enough, they will just take your land. And they have more resources to fight than you do.