Category Archives: Energy Facts

Is it too late for the Keystone XL Pipeline?

The stated purpose of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is to transport crude oil taken from the oil sands in Canada’s Alberta province southward to the refining facilities located in the United States mid-South region of Oklahoma and along the Gulf Of Mexico coastline.  When those oil sands were viable as a source of crude oil, the project made infinite sense, but a major hitch has developed.

I wrote previously, HERE, about the jeopardy into which falling crude oil prices have put crude oil extracted in the US through the use of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.  Crude oil extracted from oil tar sands have in common with fracking the vulnerability of high extraction costs when compared with traditional methodologies used with traditional oil deposits.

Today, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil (the common U.S. standard) stands at less than $47 a 42-gallon barrel, and it will almost certainly go lower.  The Saudi’s have publicly stated that they will not curtail production in their Saudi Arabian oil fields, even if WTI crude goes down to $10 a barrel.  The death of King Abdullah may cause a twitch or two in the markets, but no long-term change in the trend.

Although the newly elected Congress seems bent on sending to the President’s desk a bill mandating the construction of the pipeline, it may be time to think about whether or not the project still makes economic sense, especially in light of President Obama’s vow to veto such a bill.

Maybe the best approach is to wait for a new occupant of the White House, one that will surely be more objective in evaluating the project on its merits.

The Consequences of Falling Oil Prices

The website that tracks the daily prices for the two main types of crude oil consumed in the United States is saying that the price of WTI is now at $59.95 per barrel.  As many readers will know, crude oil is priced in terms of 42-gallon barrels, and the main domestic price standard is for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), a type otherwise known as “light, sweet” crude oil.  An alternate standard is known as Brent Crude, which is the average price of oil pumped out of the fifteen oil fields in the North Sea.  The price of Brent Crude is typically a bit higher than WTI, as the price of extraction is higher for undersea deposits.

I posted before, HERE, about the problems that falling crude oil prices pose for fracking producers, and on the day of the post (October 10th) the WTI price was about $87/barrel.  At today’s $59.95/barrel, the per-gallon price of WTI crude is $1.43, and we’re now seeing $2.53 at the pump.  There are almost no fracking operations in the United States that can produce crude for $60/barrel, not even close.

The ramifications of this price drop will be many, and worldwide.  Some are writing that the implications for revenue to the Russian government may imperil the Putin regime.

Keith Naughton joins the fray with a piece at the Daily Caller about the effects on the already-wobbly Venezuelan government.  Writes Naughton:

For over 15 years Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro have pursued absurd socialist economic policies liberally mixed with heavy-handed repression, and an anti-American foreign policy.  Private property has been expropriated.  Political opponents have been harassed and jailed.  The crime rate is soared.  Essential items have disappeared from store shelves.  Maduro himself flat-out stole the last presidential election (of course the leftist leaders in Latin America just shrugged it off — showing yet again that the left only likes democracy when they win).

Now Venezuela is at the end of its financial rope.  Tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue have been wasted away and now that the price of oil has cratered, the country’s fiscal deficit is unsustainable.  Maduro is cutting spending, unloading debt at cut-rate prices, and arresting his political opponents.  Tension is rising between the armed forces and the Maduro’s Chavista paramilitary thugs.

The article goes on to list five ways in which a collapse of the Venezuelan economy and government would impact the United States and its allies.  Read the full article, HERE, to get the details of the five ways, and what the Obama administration is planning to do about the potential crisis.

Shale Oil Production: The Paradox

Back on September 30th I posted THIS piece entitled “Hydraulic Fracking: an Economic Miracle”, in which I lauded the increased production of petroleum products from U.S. producers based on hydraulic fracking of shale oil deposits.

But various factors of late have caused the world price of oil to fall significantly.  North Sea crude dipped below $90 per barrel (42-gallons) last week, and is now hovering around $91.  West Texas crude is now around $87 per barrel.  And while this development is causing some relief at U.S. gasoline pumps, it has also caused rising concern about whether the American shale oil producer can sustain his operations, given the fact that it typically costs 3-4 times as much to produce a barrel of shale oil as compared to conventional oil extraction methodologies.  Hence the paradox — the higher the price of crude, the more incentive producers have to invest in shale oil deposits and the fracking technologies needed to extract oil from them.  Conversely, the more shale oil that is produced, the less global demand there is for crude oil, so the price drops.

As Emily Latella often said, if it isn’t one thing it’s another.  For more details on the current state of oil prices, check out THIS article from The American Interest.

Hydraulic Fracking: an Economic Miracle

The petroleum industry refers to the ethane and propane by-products of using fracking methods for extracting oil from shale deposits as “related liquids”.  And now, if those “related liquids” are included, U.S. production will exceed that of Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1991, at over 11.5 million barrels (about 483 million gallons) per day.  Moreover, according to THIS article at the Financial Times (behind a paywall), U.S. production of oil itself is edging closer to the daily production of Saudi Arabia, and is within spitting distance of Russia’s.  Saudi Arabia, however, is still the only country which is producing at far less than their capacity.

Increased U.S. production has played a part in lowering prices at the pump here in the U.S. this summer.  However, the overall strengthening of the dollar has also played a role.  While the value of the dollar has risen, the values of the Euro and Yen have fallen, causing many to believe that the Federal Reserve will be raising interest rates after the election.  For more on this, check out THIS article at the online Wall Street Journal (unfortuanately, also behind a paywall).


Senate Bill 3 Strikes Again

The mandates contained in Senate Bill 3, the NC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard enacted in 2007, have prompted another North Carolina energy company to make a new commitment to a foolish solar energy investment that ratepayers will eventually have to fund.

The announcement by Duke Energy was reported yesterday in an article published in NC Tech News, from which I have selected this excerpt:

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) today announced a $500 million commitment to a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina.  This culminates the company’s request for proposals (RFP) issued in February 2014 for new solar capacity.  It will help Duke Energy further its commitment to renewable energy, diversify its energy portfolio and meet North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS).  It also provides customers greater access to renewable energy in a cost-effective manner.  The company will acquire and construct three solar facilities – totaling 128 megawatts (MW) of capacity – including the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility east of the Mississippi River.  The three facilities will be located in Bladen, Duplin, and Wilson counties.

Duke Energy also signed power-purchase agreements with five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 MW of capacity.  Together, the eight projects will have a capacity of 278 MW.  The $500 million commitment includes the investment in the three facilities and the value of the five long-term power-purchase contracts.

“This is Duke Energy’s largest single announcement for solar power and represents a 60 percent increase in the amount of solar power for our North Carolina customers,” said Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources.  “We are bringing large amounts of renewable energy onto our system in the most cost-effective way possible.”

For those so inclined, the full article is HERE.  Others may be interested to know that the planned “largest solar photovoltaic facility east of the Mississippi River” refers to a facility to be built near Warsaw.

And finally, there is THIS related news on the USDA’s federal loan guarantees being issued for 22 solar projects within North Carolina’s borders.

What is crude, but sweet, and with a lightness of being?

No, not me, silly, but thanks just the same.  I’m actually referring to the crude oil being extracted from the Bakken reserves in North Dakota and elsewhere along the Canadian border by means of hydraulic fracking.

The left in our country vehemently opposes any explorations by American oil companies aimed at expanding the proven petroleum reserves in the United States, any improvements in extraction technology that will tend to produce more oil more cheaply, and the creation of any infrastructure (such as a new pipeline) that will expedite the movement of that crude oil to the epicenter of U.S. refining capacity.  Consequently, in order to diminish the perceived value of the newly proven reserves, they denigrate the quality of the petroleum being pumped out of the Bakken formation at every turn.

However, Tessa Sandstrom is setting the record straight.  Ms. Sandstrom is Communications Manager for the North Dakota Petroleum Council and an expert on all things Bakken.  Earlier this week, she wrote an interesting and enlightening article to dispell many of the myths that have been spreading about Bakken Crude.  The article is HERE.

So, Don’t Hear Much About “Peak Oil” These Days

The notion that there was a finite amount of oil reserves in the world, the vast majority of which mankind had already discovered, and a much smaller portion of which could ever be economically extracted, was known as the “Peak Oil” theory.  The theory was developed in 1956 by Marion Hubbert, a geologist who worked in the Texas research facilities of Shell Oil.  Hubbert died in 1989, but not before seeing the realization of his fundamental prediction, which was that worldwide petroleum production would “peak” in the late 1960s and steadily decline thereafter.

It recently occurred to me that there are some similarities between the liberal left’s attitude on Peak Oil in the 1970s and their attitude now on AGW/Climate-Change.  In the seventies and eighties, before AGW alarmism began to overshadow it, Peak Oil was the catastrophe that the left relied upon to panic the populace into thinking that, whatever the economic and/or inefficiency drawbacks of doing so, the nation must immediately launch into a monstrously expensive, government-coerced adoption of green energy.

I have a good friend who used to believe in the Peak Oil theory strongly, and he, along with his environmentalist friends, would use it as a justification for advocating vigorous governmental action to move the American citizenry away from the consumption of fossil fuels.  Nowadays, of course, they rely on Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), or Anthropogenic Climate Change, or whatever the currently favored terminology happens to be.

But you don’t hear much these days about Peak Oil, because the discovery and exploitation of shale oil deposits since the late 1990s has made almost everyone understand how foolish the notion was to begin with.  And just this spring, another development in the Williston Basin (graphic at right, click to enlarge) along the Canadian border with Bakken_FormationMontana and North Dakota has reinforced that realization.

The basin, named for and surrounding the town of Williston, North Dakota, contains multiple layers of oil-bearing rock.  The top-most layers constitute the well-known Bakken formation, but recent discoveries are somewhat deeper.  These deeper layers are referred to on the U.S. side as the Three Forks formation, after Three Forks, Montana, and on the Canadian side as the Torquay Formation, after the seaside resort town of Torquay on England’s southern coast. 

The oil producers in the region are now “cracking the code” on the best drilling techniques and practices for the Three Forks and Torquay formations, and are coming up with incredible economic returns.  These wells cost, on average, less than four million dollars each including equipment and drilling expenditures for a one-mile horizontal well, but the yield is so great that the producers are recovering that investment in as little as one year, sometimes even less!

This kind of return on investment has re-invigorated the Canadian side, and on the US side, the production of the Three Forks wells is causing the industry to leap-frog estimates of the amount of recoverable oil available in the basin, by numbers ranging from 50% to 100%!  And this scenario, to one degree or another, is being repeated above the sites of shale oil deposits all over the world.

It is true, of course, that the earth is not growing any more dinosaurs, so the TOTAL reserves of petroleum are, indeed, finite.  However, for the immediate future, the proven reserves are growing at a rate that seemed incomprehensible a half-century ago when Marion Hubbert’s ideas were the prevailing wisdom.

For the WikiPedia page on “Peak Oil”, click HERE.  For the recent article in the industry journal Oil Voice, on which this post is partially based, go HERE.  And for the WikiPedia page on the Williston Basin, click THIS link.

Israel is no longer the only Middle Eastern state with no petroleum deposits

Its true.  From the full article, HERE, at the online Commentary Magazine:

Tamar sits 56 miles off the coast of Israel, an offshore gas platform rising up from the Mediterranean like a white steel beacon whose roots reach down 1,000 feet to the seabed. Named for the natural-gas field beneath the sea floor, Tamar is the symbol of a bright future for Israel if Israel is ready for it: as the newest energy producer and exporter in the Middle East, and potentially the most important.

Energy From Algae — The New Foo Fighters

Douglas Elliott, a spokesman for the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL, located in Richland, WA) has announced a new and more efficient process for converting algae into petroleum products.  Algae fuel research has been going on for years, but the processes developed to date have been inordinately expensive, mainly because the algae had to be thoroughly dried before the ensuing steps began, and because expensive chemicals were used, particularly hexane solvents.  Additionally, the former processes were all batch processes, which made for too much down-time.

The new procedure yields a continuous flow of viscous crude oil liquid that can be further processed into gasoline, diesel fuel, and other consumables.  The by-products are water containing  nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — the key nutrients for growing more algae with which to continue the process.

From the announcement:

PNNL scientists and engineers simplified the production of crude oil from algae by combining several chemical steps into one continuous process.  The most important cost-saving step is that the process works with wet algae.

“Not having to dry the algae is a big win in this process; that cuts the cost a great deal,” said Elliott.  “Then there are bonuses, like being able to extract usable gas from the water and then recycle the remaining water and nutrients to help grow more algae, which further reduces costs.”

the PNNL team works with the whole algae, subjecting it to very hot water under high pressure to tear apart the substance, converting most of the biomass into liquid and gas fuels.  The system runs at around 350 degrees Celsius (662 degrees Fahrenheit) at a pressure of around 3,000 PSI, combining processes known as hydrothermal liquefaction and catalytic hydrothermal gasification.

For the entire article, go HERE.

Obama Gotta Have His Renewable Energy

MillPondPost_LogoBreitbart’s Robert Wilde is reporting today on the intent of the Obama administartion to weaken the regulations protecting our national symbol, bald eagles, particularly from deaths due to wind turbine farms.  This hazard was responsible for the recent $1M fine that Duke Energy had to pay for deaths resulting from birds flying into the deadly turbine blades at their wind farms.

The proposed new rules —

… will give wind farms thirty year permits for the “non purposeful take of eagles-that is where the take is associated with but not the purpose of, the activity.’’ The take of eagles is also a euphemism for the slaughter of them.

The wind farms fulfill Obama’s ambitious pursuit of developing renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, some bird species being destroyed by the turbines are not renewable. As a result, Obama finds himself wedged between the ire of opposing green groups. In July, wildlife groups met with administration officials and lobbied against the granting of 30 year permits for energy companies that own the wind farms.

Wildlife groups are advocating shorter leases and insist that a 30-year free pass for eagle “taking” is too long. They argue that before we are stuck with three decades of the rule, there are still some unanswered questions about how to prevent the destroying of the birds.

The text of the rule is on the OMB site, HERE, and from The Hill Blog, the full story is HERE.

Making Fuel From Food — Dumbest Idea Ever?

As a former farm boy and a guy who still owns an itty-bitty amount of tillable acreage in eastern NC, I have always thought that the ethanol fuel mandate was the height of idiocy.  It drives up the cost or corn, thus driving up the cost of beef and pork and lots of other food items, it causes farmers to favor corn over other crops in the competition for the available crop land, and it pushes up the true cost of motor vehicle fuel by diluting the miles driven per gallon of gasohol versus gasoline.

This and lots of other ramifications are exposed in this comprehensive ARTICLE, written by Dina Cappiello of the AP, encouraging me to believe that at least some members of the MSM are coming around to my view.

Obama Finally Delivers

In 2008, Obama promised to “stem the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.” On June 25, 2013, he finally delivered his plan. The piece below is from John Droz. Check out the links provided for more information.



[T]he President revealed his climate & energy plan this afternoon [June 25, 2013].
Unfortunately there was no surprise, as it was entirely a political speech, essentially devoid of any real science.
[Note that their newest PR tactic was on display: since citizens have already been flogged into insensitivity with the end-of-the world malarky, their focus now is that it’s your kids at stake!]
He is also quite proud of the fact that he is largely bypassing Congress (the elected representatives of the people), and acting contrary to the wishes of US citizenry. Additionally the fact that his unilateral actions will likely result in widespread economic harm to the country, thousands of net jobs lost, and a reduction of our security — are also taken as a badge of honor.
This makes perfect sense once one fully grasps that this is a religious campaign, and the main tenet of this secular belief is: “The End Justifies The Means.” Put another way: a lot of casualties are a necessary byproduct of war.
Marc Morano wrote a good summary: “President Obama is still parading his ignorance on climate science, linking bad weather to ‘global warming’, claiming a mythical 97% consensus, and implying that his executive actions can alter the globe’s temperature and lessen extreme weather events. The President has descended into the realm of medieval witchcraft by claiming he can combat global temperature rises and weather patterns through administrative action.”
CEI issued an insightful commentary: “President’s Climate Plan Undemocratic, Bordering On Authoritarian“. They rightly characterize his proposal as “all pain, no gain.” Other good observations from several independent experts can be found here.
The Good The Bad and the Ugly (which includes two PDF documents: 1) the President’s plan and 2) the White House “fact sheet” for climate policies for both new and existing power plants.
To understand the Big Picture of our concern here, please carefully look at
What can you do? Despite his blatant attempt at an end-run, Congress still has some say here — for instance they control the purse strings of government agencies. So please do call your Representative and Senator to express your views: 1-866-220-0044.
john droz, jr.
PS — If you’d like to dig a little deeper, here’s more. Thanks to Bob Ferguson (president of SPPI) for most of the following summary:Claims that CO2 emissions are “contributing to higher rates of asthma attacks and more frequent and severe floods and heat waves” not only lack scientific and observational validity, but the growing body of literature across a broad spectrum of related fields of research often contradicts such claims.
A search of these web resources by the Center for the Study of CO2 and the Science and Public Policy Institute returns ample review papers of CO2 and climate related research:
Sample papers and summaries:

Update on NC H298, Affordable and Reliable Energy Act

This is a progress report on the NC H298 bill: Affordable and Reliable Energy Act. 

Yesterday (Wednesday) there was a Commerce Committee hearing on this bill. It was well-attended, and there were numerous inputs. At the end, the committee voted to pass the bill. There are now three committees left to be dealt with, but it was generally acknowledged that the Commerce one would be the most difficult.
For those who did not attend, here is a video of that Commerce Committee hearing.
The next hearing for H298 is scheduled to be the House Environment Committee. I have not yet heard about the schedule for the Environmental Committee. Right now that Committee has 12 other bills already on the docket to review, so it’s hard to say when H298 will come up. My guess, though, is that it will be expedited. An official place where the schedule will appear is here.
To be prepared for all options, I wrote this report as a comprehensive, eye-opening Environmental Assessment of H298.
In it I provide some rarely reported information — like the problematic consequences of Rare Earth Elements (each turbine uses some 4000 pounds of REEs!). Few people are aware that one investigation concluded that wind turbine manufacture produces more radioactive waste material than results from the operation of a comparable nuclear facility!
There is also a superior new NC map by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (US F&WS), showing how almost all of the NC wind “suitable” locations are environmentally problematic. On top of that I superimposed the low-level flight paths of three major NC air bases. The result is that there is essentially zero “suitable” NC land left.
I also listed the annual agricultural cost due to turbine bat deaths for each NC county — which just on their own usually exceed the unguaranteed promises made by wind developers. Etc…
I think that you will find this document to be a wealth of information, so please pass it on to other interested citizens.
Please let me know any questions on any of this — or any suggestions you have for improvements.
There are now over a dozen organizations actively supporting H298 and we would appreciate your help.
john droz, jr.

Science Under Attack

The slide carousel below is essentially the same as that presented by Morehead City physicist John Droz before a group of legislators from the NC General Assembly on February 6, 2013.  It explains why decisions on science should be based only on real science.

[slideshare id=9692210&doc=wppresentation-locke-111014053128-phpapp01]

Science versus AGW/Climate-Change Religion in North Carolina

The following essay (slightly edited) was written by John Droz, Jr. a well-known physicist and environmental advocate from Morehead City, North Carolina, on June 11, 2012.  It focuses on the application of pseudo science with respect to the projections of Sea Level Rise along the Atlantic seaboard in general, and along the North Carolina coast in particular.

What’s been happening recently in North Carolina (NC) is a microcosm of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) story: politics versus science, ad-hominems versus journalism, evangelists versus pragmatists, etc.

The contentiousness is over one of the main AGW battlefields: sea level rise (SLR).  NC happens to have a large amount of coast line, and has become the US epicenter for this issue.  In brief, this began several years ago when a state agency (Coastal Resource Commission: CRC) selected a 20± member “science panel” to do a scientific assessment of the state SLR situation through the year 2100.  This could have been a very useful project if there had been balance in the personnel selections, and if the panel’s assessment adhered to scientific standards.  Regrettably neither happened and the project soon jumped the rails, landing into the political agenda ditch.

In their 2010 report the panel concluded that NC should expect a 39-inch SLR by 2100.  Their case was built around a 2007 paper by Stefan Rahmstorf, and was not encumbered by a single reference to a perspective different from Rahmstorf’s.  Shortly after the report was released, state agencies started making the rounds of NC coastal communities, putting them on notice that they would need to make BIG changes (elevating roads and bridges, rezoning property, changing flood maps for insurance purposes, etc.).

As an independent scientist, I was solicited by my coastal county to provide a scientific perspective on this report.  Even though I wasn’t a SLR expert, I could clearly see that this document was a classic case of Confirmation Bias, as it violated several scientific standards.  But to get into the technical specifics I solicited the inputs of about 40 international SLR experts (oceanographers, etc.).

I compiled and edited their responses to the CRC panel’s report into what I called a Critique.  This 33 page document discussed how real science works, and then went through the 16 page CRC document, essentially line-by-line.  In doing so numerous specious claims, unsupported assumptions, and questionable models were pointed out.  It wasn’t pretty.

It was during this time that I was solicited to work with a small coastal organization called NC-20 (so named because there are 20 NC coastal counties).  Since they were interested in promoting science-based solutions (my agenda also) for NC coastal issues, I agreed to be their Science Advisor and a board member (both non-paying, volunteer positions).

Initially we had hopes that the CRC panel’s report could be fixed, so we met with the head of the CRC, explained our concerns and handed the Critique to him.  He appeared to be receptive and we were optimistic that this important matter could be straightened out.  That proved to be an illusion, as none of the CRC panel members ever contacted us about fixing any of their mistakes, or about doing a more balanced assessment.  Shame on them.  We subsequently asked that the Critique be posted on CRC’s SLR webpage, but they refused to do so.  So much for presenting the facts to NC citizens.

On the positive side of things, due to our objections the state did (temporarily anyway) back off from the rules and regulations with which they had threatened coastal communities.  [By the way, NC-20 is NOT disputing that there will be Sea Level Rise.  The amount of NC SLR is unknown, so a genuine scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation should be undertaken.  What such an assessment entails is explained in Part I of the Critique.]

By all appearances it seems the CRC assumed that the prestige of their science panel would win the day against the NC-20 upstarts.  To help assure that outcome they engaged in an intensive PR campaign to pervert this into a science versus real estate developers issue (with them representing the science side, of course!).

It was during this time that a CRC Panel member wrote me saying that they agreed with the Critique, and apologized for signing off on the Panel’s report!  The member stated that the Panel was driven by a few activists, and that everyone else simply went along.  This was no surprise, but that an individual had the good conscience to apologize was refreshing.

Anyway, the CRC panel’s disinformation campaign didn’t work, as we didn’t go away.  Further, almost everyone who actually read the Critique ended up being on our side.  One legislator who liked it asked us to make a presentation to interested state legislators in November 2011.  We took that opportunity and it was well received.

Not long after that the CRC panel changed their tactics.  Their new plan was to issue an Addendum to their 2010 report, and then claim that all of our concerns were answered.  If only that were the case! Their nine page document was prepared with zero contact with us – which tells you all you need to know about the sincerity that they had in any scientific resolution.

My response was to follow the successful earlier pattern, so I passed the CRC panel’s Addendum on to my network of international SLR experts for their commentary.  Again they were forthcoming, so I was able to compile and edit a detailed 18 page response that I called a Commentary.  We again sent this directly to CRC, asked them to put it on their SLR website – but posted it ourselves on our own site.  [We received no response from CRC, and they have yet to post our document.]

What happened next was a BIG surprise.  We were notified that state legislators were as exasperated as we were with the politicalization of these technical issues – and that they were going to introduce legislation to stop the agenda promoters! Wow!

In this case, SLR legislation (H819) was drafted by a staffer who has a PhD in oceanography.  The main point of the document was that future SLR projections must be made based on extrapolating prior empirical data.  In other words, state agencies would not be allowed to create policies that were based on speculations about some possible acceleration!

As a scientist, I’m always concerned about legislating technical matters.  In this case, though, the evidence is quite clear that certain NC agencies have no genuine interest in real science.  So what to do?  Defunding them is a possibility, but that might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Replacing the agency’s problem people is another option, but the logistics for that weren’t practical.  So putting some constraints on these dogmatists has some merit.

Not surprisingly, the backlash [against the new draft] was immediate.  These evangelists are used to getting their way, and for legislators to actually stand up against their religion was an unexpected development.  In their anguish they lashed out against anyone they could blame for this roadblock in their crusade – including yours truly.  There were numerous rants (some national) lamenting how “good science” was being thwarted by ignorant legislators.  Even the Colbert Report had fun with it.

Of course, the reality that the legislators were actually trying to protect NC citizens from promoters masquerading their agendas as science, was rarely reported.  Such are the times we are living in, where talk is cheap, and few understand what science really is.  What’s worse is that thousands of scientists are off the reservation, and have no interest in adhering to scientific principles or procedures.  The solution (in my opinion) is that such renegades should have their degrees revoked, just as a priest is defrocked for violating his vows.

In mid-2012, H819 passed the NC Senate by a vote of 35-12.  After some weakening amendments were added, the NC House passed it by a vote of 68-46.  The essence of the bill as passed is that it prevents the use of any computer modeling in predicting future sea-level rise. It also prevents the state from taking any action on sea-level rise until 2016.

For a detailed timeline on the subject of this essay and related matters, go HERE.

Wind Energy Survey

Please consider taking a few minutes to fill out this survey about wind energy. It is confidential. If you have any questions, please email Darryl Read (not me) at

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If you’d like some background, here is the story of this effort, as he told me over 25+ correspondences:




My name is Darryl Read and I am a fourth year psychology honors student at the University of New England in Australia. My research project now involves surveying citizens near proposed or established wind developments, worldwide.


My interest in this area of research began after speaking with rural residents living in Crookwell, New South Wales (NSW), which has the oldest wind project in Australia. The conversations enabled me to gain an understanding of the range of issues surrounding wind developments. Following those talks I began to read wind articles in the media. It became clear that most of these stories failed to identify the issues and genuine concerns of the residents. After delving deeper (e.g. your EnergyPresentation.Info), I am now getting a better understanding of the enormity of the issues facing citizens who are proximate to wind developments.


In the beginning my study was designed to gain an understanding of the structure and strength of both positive and negative attitudes toward wind energy developments. The initial plan was for the survey to be distributed throughout the renewable energy precincts in NSW. Following the launch of the questionnaire earlier this month, the study has caught the attention of various pro-wind organizations and individuals who have attempted to discredit the study. Supporters of the wind industry have also been pushing to prevent the study continuing. To make a long story short, when I presented the questionnaire, the renewable energy coordinators and representatives from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) informed me that they would not support the project because they felt that the study was focusing on the negative aspects of wind energy. (This was probably subconsciously due to my meeting real citizens and listening to their concerns.)


When I began the project I had no idea that the issues were so politically motivated. In my view it appears that wind proponents (government, business, and academia) are not prepared to accept any criticism of wind energy. The issues these people had with the questionnaire relate to the questions regarding the possible impacts of wind developments, like property values, noise, environmental impacts, psychological impacts, etc. Despite significant resistance I have decided to continue with the study, and very much appreciate your passing it on to your network of good people.


Anyway, due to these developments, my research is now a completely independent project, not funded by the government agencies who support wind energy. This has the advantage that I now have more freedom, as the research is not restricted to achieve a particular outcome. In brief, the aim of my study is now to investigate the range of issues surrounding wind developments, and to provide an unvarnished account of citizens’ attitudes toward wind developments. A number of people I had contacted had expressed their personal stories of how these industrial projects have negatively impacted their lives. I believe I have a duty to tell the citizen’s side of the story and expose the practices of governments, which appear to be driven by political vs scientific agendas.


The first aim of the current study is to investigate the attitudes, perceived levels of stress and potential impact on mental health experienced by residents who live in close proximity to wind developments. As a consequence of the differing stages of wind turbine development, it is anticipated that mental health outcomes may be more negatively impacted with progressively more development.


The second aim of the study is to identify the factors which contribute toward oppositional behavior. The various negative impacts of wind projects such as perceived influence on property values, effects on surrounding environment, wildlife, effects of noise etc., will be analyzed. Further testing of variables such as place attachment, time perspective, environmental concerns will be conducted to investigate their influence on oppositional behavior.


In some media there have been suggestions that those who oppose developments are motivated by factors other than the shortcomings of wind energy. For example, It has been reported that those who oppose wind energy are not concerned by environmental problems, the lifestyles of future generations, or so-called global warming. I believe that such findings are used to discredit the genuine concerns residents have toward developments. It is anticipated that the mediation analyses (see below) will dismiss the myths, and put the focus back on the some of the legitimate reasons residents oppose developments, like noise, psychological impacts, etc. Above all, I want to highlight the fact that those who oppose developments are not psychologically unstable or driven by political interests. Their concerns are real and hopefully my study will highlight this.


To enable the findings of my research to be taken seriously the study will require at least 300 participants, but the more the better. Residents who live near existing or proposed wind projects across the world are invited to participate in the study. When completing the survey please click the arrow at the bottom of each page to move to the next. If you have any questions in relation to the questionnaire or if you have any comments you believe may assist the research, please email me at Please feel pass on the survey link to other residents who are near to wind developments.


Thank you VERY MUCH for your time and interest.


Darryl Read



For those who would like some additional technical explanation of my plans:


When I initially began research in this area, like most people I was unaware of the limited capacity of the turbines to produce electricity. It appears that they have become symbols of governments which will do anything to be seen as combating “climate change.” My research in this area will continue over the coming years at PhD level. My PhD will be a comprehensive analysis which will investigate factors such as the inefficiency of the turbines. Unfortunately the current questionnaire does not fully address the scientific deficiency of wind energy.


However, I have received multiple emails from residents (an others are welcome to send me their experiences). I will incorporate their views into the discussions section of the current study. Although somewhat limited, the variables I have decided to use will still provide very interesting outcomes. Above all it will shine a spotlight on the multiple concerns residents have and the barriers which they face. My research in this area has only just begun and I am learning everyday.


After I get a sufficient number of responses, a number of mediation analyses will be performed to identify the various factors which determine oppositional behavior. For example, place attachment, time perspective, and environmental concerns will be used to test the relationships between attitudes and oppositional behavior. Within the literature there have been suggestions that an underlying factor motivating oppositional behavior are their attitudes toward climate change, that is, lack of belief is contributing to the opposition. If the survey evidence warrants it, I will dismiss this myth and provide evidence that those who oppose developments have been psychologically affected by the presence of the turbines and that their concerns are real and need to be investigated further.


To assess the perceived levels of stress and potential impact on mental health experienced by residents who live in close proximity to wind projects, a multiple regression analysis will be conducted. The Dependent Variable (DV) will be the data collected from the Depression and Stress Scales (DASS 21), and the Independent Variables (IVs) will be the proximity to developments. As mentioned before, the main analyses will involve the testing of mediators such as place attachment, time perspective, environmental concerns, belief in climate change, and their relationship between attitudes toward wind developments and oppositional behavior. If I am able to recruit over 300 participants I will perform a statistical technique known as Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). The benefits of using this technique as opposed to a simple mediation analysis is that it can analyze the causal processes which can be modeled pictorially to enable a clearer conceptualization of the various relationships.

On Energy, Massachusetts Tilts At Windmills

The following is from an article that appeared at the online Investors Business Daily, HERE, on February 24/2012.  It has been slightly edited for brevity.

In the United States, abundant supplies of environmentally friendly and reliable natural gas are to be found in the vast resources locked up in the Outer Continental Shelf, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska and in the vast shale formations that bless the nation.  A nationwide boom in natural gas production is set to fuel nearly 900,000 jobs and add roughly $1,000 to annual household budgets by 2015, according to a study by HIS Global Insight, a Denver energy research firm.  It is estimated that we have at least a 100-year supply of the relatively cheap, cleanest-burning fossil fuel.

To the 36 states that, like Massachusetts, have embraced what are called renewable portfolio standards, they will continue pursuing green energy sources despite their heavy subsidies, uneven and unreliable capacity, and the simple fact that you cannot store wind energy for when the wind is not blowing.

After decades of subsidies, wind provides only 1% of our electricity compared with 49% for coal, 22% for natural gas, 19% for nuclear power and 7% for hydroelectric.  Wind turbines generally operate at only 20% efficiency compared with 85% for coal, gas and nuclear power plants.

With the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Massachusetts state legislature enacted a clean energy mandate requiring that 20% of Massachusetts’ power come from renewable sources by 2025. A prime source of Bay State wind power is to come from the Cape Wind project, an offshore wind farm that was controversial because it threatened to block the ocean view of the 1% ensconced on the shores of Nantucket Sound.

Governor Deval Patrick saw an opportunity to help meet that goal with the proposed merger of two local utilities, NStar and Northeast Utilities of Connecticut.  His administration approved the deal on the conditions that the new utility company must purchase 27.5% of the output of Cape Wind, freeze its rates for the next four years, and distribute a one-time rebate of $21 million to customers.

That rebate turns out to be a one-time check of $13 per capita. Construction on Cape Wind has not yet begun, so a four-year freeze on electricity prices will lapse by the time NStar starts purchasing that 27.5% of Cape Wind power.

As Peter Wilson notes in the American Thinker, Cape Wind has already signed an agreement with another utility, National Grid, to sell electricity for 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), with a 3.5% increase every year over the next 15 years. This wind power therefore starts out at more than double the average Massachusetts rate of 8 cents per kwh.

Wilson calculates that the 3.5% increase compounded annually means that at the end of the 15 years, National Grid customers will be paying 31.3 cents per kwh, around four times the current rate.  Meanwhile, natural gas prices have plummeted from near $5 per million British thermal units per hour (MMBtu) last summer to around $2.60 per MMBtu.

According to the Energy Department, the energy equivalent of $3 natural gas is $18 per barrel oil. Natural gas would seem to be the obvious choice, not wind.

A 2008 report by the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration reported that in 2007 while the average subsidy per megawatt hour for all energy sources was $1.65, the subsidy for wind and solar was about $24 per megawatt hour.

Daniel Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, said in an interview with Cybercast News Service that “without government subsidies or mandates, none of these energy sources exist, they just simply won’t. … These energy sources are not as efficient as the sources of energy that the marketplace has picked and the consumers have picked to run the country.”

Massachusetts’ energy answer, like ours, is not to be found blowin’ in the wind.

And as the article also says, the “tilting at windmills continues”.  For proof, the reader is referred to the proposed Mill Pond wind turbine farm proposed for Carteret County, NC, by Texas-based Torch Energy.

Statement on the President's Action to Disapprove the Keystone Pipeline

Date:               January 24, 2012

To:                  Valero Employees

From:              Bill Klesse

Subject:          Keystone XL Pipeline Statement

As you know, the Obama administration decided last week to deny TransCanada’s application to ship crude oil via the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Valero has planned to be a shipper and purchaser of that oil since 2008, and obviously we were disappointed in the decision. We issued a statement in response to questions from the media, and I wanted to share it with you in case you get questions from friends or business partners, and so that you would know why Valero supports the Keystone XL pipeline. This is the statement:

Despite the uncertainty and political fighting over the Keystone XL pipeline, Valero has continued to invest in its U.S. refining operation.  In 2011 we spent nearly $3 billion on projects, and for 2012 our capital expenditure budget is over $3 billion. These expenditures are keeping our employees on the job and putting additional people to work.  To reference two of our refineries, at Port Arthur, Texas, we have 1,600 contractors working on an expansion project, and at St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, we have another 1,000 contractors working on a separate project.  We need this kind of economic activity to accelerate to help all Americans.

This illustrates why the federal government’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is so absurd. There are pipelines in every neighborhood all across America. The administration’s decision was not about pipelines, it was about the misguided beliefs that Canadian oil sands development should be stopped and that fossil fuel prices should increase to make alternative energy more attractive. Instead, we should be impressed with how well the oil sands engineering and recovery technology has advanced, and the economic benefits this development brings.  Having more oil available in the marketplace has the potential to lower prices for consumers.  As an independent refiner, Valero buys all of the oil we process. Due to the administration’s misguided policies, refiners like Valero will have to buy more oil from other sources outside the U.S. and Canada. Consumers will bear the additional shipping cost, not to mention the additional greenhouse gas emissions and political risks.

With all the issues facing our country, it is absolutely unbelievable our federal government says no to a company like TransCanada that is willing to spend over $7 billion and put Americans to work on a pipeline.  The administration’s decision throws dirt into the face of our closest ally and largest trading partner.

The point above is that it is not about pipelines as many pipelines cross the Ogallala Aquifer, in the Great Plains region, and, in fact, there is already significant oil and gas production in the area covered by the aquifer. This is politics at its worst.

Thanks for your support.

North America’s Energy Bounty, By the Numbers

Debunking The Big Energy Lie™

Posted by Steve Maley (Diary)

Friday, December 9th at 4:00PM EST


On Tuesday, the Institute for Energy Research issued its North American Energy Inventory (.pdf link), a report which documents the government’s own estimates of oil, natural gas and coal resources for the U.S., Canada and Mexico. (The IER is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 organization that is dedicated to advancing America’s supply using free market principles.)

In a nutshell, North America contains a vast bounty of energy sources in the form of oil, natural gas and coal. Reports that we are “running out” of energy sources use semantics and terminology to play with the facts. Simply put, we have chosen not to exploit potential sources close to home, finding it more expedient or convenient to depend on faraway sources for our energy.

Based on the ongoing tangible successes in North Dakota and Pennsylvania, one would think that the jobs/growth potential presented by aggressive energy development would tantalize any politician who is truly interested in helping the economy. One would think.

The following video will give you a quick run-down of the key points of the report, but I would encourage anyone interested to download and read the full report. It is extremely well-documented and although it is chock-full of facts and figures, I found it to be an easy read.


Excerpt from the report’s executive summary:

The amount of oil that is technically recoverable in the United States is more than 1.4 trillion barrels, with the largest deposits located offshore, in portions of Alaska, and in shale in the Rocky Mountain West. When combined with resources from Canada and Mexico, total recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels.

That is more than the world has used since the first oil well was drilled over 150 years ago in Titusville, Pennsylvania. To put this in context, Saudi Arabia has about 260 billion barrels of oil in proved reserves. For comparative purposes, the technically recoverable oil in North America could fuel the present needs in the United States of seven billion barrels per year for around 250 years.

Moreover, it is important to note that that “reserves” estimates are constantly in flux. For example, in 1980, the U.S. had oil reserves of roughly 30 billion barrels. Yet from 1980 through 2010, we produced over 77 billion barrels of oil. In other words, over the last 30 years, we produced over 150 percent of our proved reserves. …

Proved reserves of natural gas in the United States and throughout North America are enormous, and the total amount of recoverable natural gas is even more impressive. The EIA estimates that the United States has 272.5 trillion cubic feet of proved reserves of natural gas. The total amount of natural gas that is recoverable in North America is approximately 4.2 quadrillion (4,244 trillion) cubic feet.

Given that U.S. consumption is currently about 24 trillion cubic feet per year, there is enough natural gas in North America to last the United States for over 175 years at current rates of consumption.

A key point of the IER report: We have been told repeatedly by our President, liberal members of Congress and our environmental community that the U.S. consumes 24% (or somesuch) of the world’s energy, but we have only 2% (or somesuch) of the world’s proved reserves. It’s just not fair!

However, IER explains how lying liars lie:


A frequent source of confusion about America’s energy potential is the terminology used, primarily the enormous yet poorly understood difference between “resources” and “reserves.” The term “reserves” typically refers to a country’s known, proved and presently economic energy supplies, but a country’s resources are much larger, representing a nation’s total potential energy. The debate over whether a country has only a few years’ supply of a particular energy source or centuries’ worth can hinge upon the terms employed. It is merely semantics—not a scientific assessment of what America has the capacity to produce—that allows critics to claim repeatedly that America is running out of energy.

Workshop – "The Truth About Wind Power on the Coasts of North Carolina"

The John Locke Foundation
Cordially invites you to

A wind power workshop

with our presenters

Daren Bakst, Esq., John Droz, Jr, David W. Schnare, Esq. Ph.D

– Daren Bakst, Esq.– Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies John Locke Foundation

John Droz, Jr.– Fellow American Tradition Institute

David W. Schnare, Esq. Ph.D.– Director of the George Mason Environmental Law Clinic Director of the Environmental Law Center at the American Tradition Institute

“The Truth About Wind Power on the Coasts of North Carolina”


Monday, December 05, 2011
7:00 PM

Burney Ballroom A, University of North Carolina, Wilmington Wilmington, NC

Price: The event is free and open to the public

The Truth About Wind Power on the Coasts of North Carolina

Environmental pressure groups, the “Big Wind” industry, and self-interested state bodies are going around the state trying to sell the public on the idea of allowing wind power plants along North Carolina’s coast.

This workshop will present an alternative view of wind power and what it would mean to North Carolina’s coastal communities. Participants will learn about wind power in general, including its intermittency problems, high costs, limited value and its environmental and economic impact. Myths will be countered, including why wind power would not play any meaningful role in energy security.


Mr. Bakst, a licensed attorney, is Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies for the John Locke Foundation. In this position, he analyzes and presents on a wide range of issues, including on energy and the environment. His expertise has been featured in many media outlets, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and AOL News. Mr. Bakst serves as Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Federalist Society and as a member of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Mr. Droz serves as a fellow at the American Tradition Institute and recently was selected to serve on the board of NC-20, which advocates on behalf of North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties. He serves as the scientific advisor for NC-20. Mr. Droz is a physicist, having worked for companies such as GE. For over 30 years, Mr. Droz has been an environmental activist and been a participating member of many environmental organizations (e.g. Sierra Club, Committee to Protect the Adirondacks).

Dr. Schnare is Director of the Environmental Law Center at the American Tradition Institute, Director of the George Mason Environmental Law Clinic and Director of the Center for Environmental Stewardship at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Formerly a senior attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Enforcement, he has served as a trial lawyer with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Virginia Attorney General, on the staff of the Senate Appropriates Committee and as the nation’s Senior Regulatory Economist
with the U.S. Office of Advocacy for Small Business.

Additional information can be found at:



Electrical Energy: Sound Science or Lobbyist

At this link, EnergyPresentation.Info

you will find a thorough explanation on why Wind Energy is not what proponents claim it to be. Energy alternatives must be selected using sound science using the Scientific Method. Alternative or renewable energy proponents use emotion to sell their product. Remember the adage “Buyer Beware.” The adage certaianly applies when it comes to renewable energy.

Wind Energy Resources

Get the facts on Wind Energy and Renewable Energy. Here are some resource links to get the truth about wind and renewable energy via John Droz, jr.:


Some recent energy articles of interest —
One of my most important documents, What Not To Say, has been updated (especially the PS part): <<>>.
This is a VERY significant story that gives us hope that sensibility and science may yet prevail: <<>>.
One of the main strategies of non-science lobbyists is to justify their self-serving promotions (e.g. wind energy) as producing jobs. It should come as no surprise that “renewable” energy forces are proposing to congress to cut gas, oil and nuclear subsidies‚ but not any for renewables <<>>.
Here are three recent articles that put the job claims into a more accurate perspective:
2) “Feeding the Masses on Unicorn Ribs” is a wonderfully insightful story about green jobs, etc <<>>.
3) “The Dirty Secret Behind Clean Jobs” <<>>.
Beyond the site fight: can communities reclaim the right to say “no”? <<>>.
A fine anergy article by attorney Dave Schnare, directed to our presidential candidates: <<>>.
A new article about wind energy performance in Illinois (that applies almost everywhere) <<>>.
“Eco-Fads: Feel-Good Policies Replace Science” Although this is not about wind energy, the same situation exists there:
A Carnegie Mellon study on shale gas <<>>. On a related mater the US government revised their estimate of shale gas available, and now project it to be some 40 times higher than before <<>>.
GE’s laser advances in nuclear fuel is an informative article <<>>.
Some recent global warming articles of interest —
US presidential candidate expresses skepticism about global warming <<>>
A new (major) example of how politics adversely influences scientific research <<>>.
A CERN particle-physics study that may reveal that solar radiation is a major cause of global warming <<>>.
A fine article discussing the fallacies of the “97% consensus” about AGW <<>>.
An intriguing exchange about the health benefits of global warming mitigation <<>>.
A worthwhile film: The Great Global Warming Swindle <<>>.
Some other recent articles of general interest —
A superior , must read article, about our education system — which explains a lot about what is happening with wind energy and the like <<>>.
This is a remarkable piece. It is a story about unnecessary spending in the US armed services — written by a high ranking (now a General) career soldier, who I happen to know <<,15240,86755,00.html>>.
Please pass this information on to other open-minded, science-oriented people. If anyone would like to be added to or removed from the email list, please let me know.
Thank you for your support.
john droz jr.,
physicist & environmental advocate
Fellow: American Tradition Institute (<<>>)

Our least sustainable energy option

By Paul Driessen — President Obama and a chorus of environmentalists, politicians, corporate executives and bureaucrats are perennially bullish on wind power as the bellwether of our “clean energy economy of the future.”

In reality, wind energy may well be the least sustainable and least eco-friendly of all electricity options. Its shortcomings are legion, but the biggest ones can be grouped into eight categories.

Land. As American humorist and philosopher Will Rogers observed, “They ain’t making any more of it.” Wind turbine installations impact vast amounts of land, far more than traditional power plants.

Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant generates 3,750 megwatts of electricity from a 4,000-acre site. The 600-MW John Turk ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Arkansas covers part of 2,900 acres; two 600-MW coal-fired units in India use just 600 acres. Gas-fired units like Calpine’s 560-MW Fox Energy Center in Wisconsin require several hundred acres. All generate reliable power 90-95 percent of the year.

By contrast, the 600-MW Fowler Ridge wind installation (355 turbines) spans 50,000 acres of farm country along Indiana’s I-65 corridor. The 782-MW Roscoe project in Texas (627 turbines) sprawls across 100,000 acres. Oregon’s Shepherds Flat project (338 gigantic 2.5 MW turbines) covers nearly 80,000 wildlife and scenic acres along the Columbia River Gorge, for a “rated capacity” of 845 MW.

The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre project will blanket some 320,000 acres of sage grouse habitat and BLM land in Wyoming with 1,000 monstrous 3-MW turbines, to generate zero to 3,000 MW of intermittent power. That’s eight times the size of Washington, DC, to get an average annual output one-fourth of what Palo Verde generates 90 percent of the time. But C-SM has already received preliminary approval from BLM.

To replace just 20 percent of the United States’ 995,000 MW of total installed generating capacity, we would need to blanket an area the size of Kansas with wind turbines, and then add nearly a thousand 600-MW gas-fired backup generators … and thousands of miles of new high voltage transmission lines.

Raw materials. Wind turbine installations require vast amounts of steel, copper, rare earth metals, fiberglass, concrete, rebar and other materials for the turbines, towers and bases.

A single 1.7 MW wind turbine, like 315 of the Fowler Ridge units, involves some 365 tons of materials for the turbine assembly and tower, plus nearly 1100 tons of concrete and rebar for the foundation. Bigger units require substantially more materials. Grand total for the entire Fowler wind installation: some 515,000 tons; for Roscoe, 752,000 tons; for Shepherds Flat, 575,000 tons; for Chokecherry, perhaps 2,000,000 tons. Offshore installations need far more raw materials.

To all that must be added millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete and rebar for thousands of miles of transmission lines — and still more for mostly gas-fired generators to back up every megawatt of wind power and generate electricity the 17 hours of each average day that the wind doesn’t blow.

Money. Taxpayers and consumers must provide perpetual subsidies to prop up wind projects, which cannot survive without steady infusions of cash via feed-in tariffs, tax breaks and direct payments.

Transmission lines cost $1.0 million to $2.5 million per mile. Landowners get $5,000+ per turbine, plus royalties on all energy produced from the turbine, plus payments for every foot of access road and transmission lines. However, taxpayers pay more, while the landowners’ neighbors suffer property devaluation, scenic disruption, noise, health problems and interference with crop spraying, but no monetary compensation. Direct federal wind energy subsidies to help cover this totaled $5 billion in FY 2010; state support added billions more; still more billions were added to consumers’ electric bills.

The Other People’s Money well is running dry. The “manmade catastrophic climate change” thesis behind the wind energy campaign is in shambles. Voters and consumers are understandably fed up.

Energy. Mining, quarrying, drilling, milling, refining, smelting and manufacturing operations make the production of metals, concrete, fiberglass and resins, turbines, and heavy equipment to do all of the above very energy-intensive. Ditto for transporting and installing turbines, towers, backups and transmission lines. That takes real energy: abundant, reliable, affordable — not what comes from wind turbines.

In fact, it probably requires more energy to manufacture, haul and install these monstrous Cuisinarts of the air and their transmission systems than they will generate in their lifetimes. However, no cradle-to-grave analysis has ever been conducted, for the energy inputs or pollution outputs. We need one now.

Health. Whereas environmentalists garner scary headlines over wildly speculative claims about health dangers from hydraulic fracturing (to extract abundant natural gas for wind turbine backup generators), they ignore and dismiss a growing body of evidence that wind turbines cause significant health problems.

Principal health issues are associated with noise — not just annoying audible noise, but inaudible, low-frequency “infrasound” that causes headache, dizziness, “deep nervous fatigue” and symptoms akin to seasickness. “Wind turbine syndrome” also includes irritability, depression, and concentration and sleep problems. Others include “shadow flicker” or “strobe effect” from whirling blades, which can trigger seizures in epileptics, “vibroacoustic” effects on the heart and lungs, and non-lethal harm to animals. Serious lung, heart, cancer and other problems have been documented from rare earth mining, smelting and manufacturing in China, under its less rigorous health, workplace and environmental regulations.

To date, however, very few health assessments have been required or conducted prior to permit approval, even for major wind turbine installations. Perhaps the trial lawyers’ guild could redress that oversight.

Environment. Raptors, bats and other beautiful flying creatures continue to be sliced and diced by wind turbines. Thankfully, the Bureau of Land Management has included an “avian radar system” to track the slaughter within its 500-square-mile Chokecherry region — and banned mining among the turbines.

Wind turbines are supposed to reduce pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. But because backup generators must repeatedly surge to full power and back to standby, as wind speed rises and falls, they operate inefficiently, use more fuel and emit more — much like cars forced to stop repeatedly on freeways.

Jobs. The myth of “green jobs” is hitting the brick wall of reality. While the turbines are installed in the USA and EU, far more numerous mining and manufacturing jobs are in China, where they are hardly “green.” As Spanish and Scottish analysts have documented, the “green” installer and maintenance jobs cost up to $750,000 apiece — and kill 2.2 to 3.7 traditional jobs for every “eco-friendly” job created.

Electricity costs and reliability. Even huge subsidies cannot cure wind power’s biggest defects: its electricity costs far more than coal, gas or nuclear alternatives — and its intermittent nature wreaks havoc on power grids and consumers. The problem is worst on hot summer afternoons, when demand is highest and breezes are minimal. Unable to compete against cheap Chinese and Indian electricity and labor, energy-intensive industries increasingly face the prospect of sending operations and jobs overseas. Bayer Chemical’s warning that it may have to close its German facilities is just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to wind, Nat King Cole might have sung: “Unsustainable that’s what you are, unsustainable though near or far. Unsustainable in every way, and forever more that’s how you’ll stay.” Maybe not forever, but certainly for the foreseeable future, especially compared to increasingly abundant natural gas.

So take a hint from Spoon’s lively tune and “cut out the middleman.” Forge a direct relationship with energy you can afford, energy that works nearly 24/7/365, energy that causes the least ecological damage and is far more sustainable than wind power: the hydrocarbon, hydroelectric and nuclear power that have sustained our society and brought unprecedented health, prosperity and living standards to billions.

Then help the planet’s least fortunate people to do likewise.


Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

Wind Power in Mass.

The Falmouth Experience: Life Under The Blades

March 7, 2011 | 7:29 AM | By Jess Bidgood

Encouraged by the Patrick Administration’s goal to expand wind power, communities across the commonwealth are considering or constructing wind turbines. In the town of Falmouth, some residents say a turbine installed last year has changed their lives  — and not for the better. This week, WGBH’s Sean Corcoran takes us to Falmouth to explore all sides of the issue in a special series, The Falmouth Experience: The Trouble with One Town’s Turbine.

In his kitchen table at his Falmouth home, Neil Anderson holds the calendar where he and his wife record their daily reactions to the wind turbine located nearby. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)Jess Bidgood/WGBH 

In his kitchen table at his Falmouth home, Neil Anderson holds the calendar where he and his wife record their daily reactions to the wind turbine located nearby.

FALMOUTH, Mass. — Standing on his home’s porch, Neil Anderson points through the thicket of trees in his front yard and across Blacksmith Shop Road towards one of his closest neighbors: A wind turbine.

“Right now we are 1,320 feet, which is one-quarter mile south of Wind One, which is Falmouth’s first wind turbine. It’s been online since April. And we’ve been trying to get it stopped since April,” Anderson says.

Wind One, as the turbine is officially called, is owned by the town of Falmouth and is located at the town’s wastewater treatment plant, where it stands 262 feet tall to the turbine’s hub. That’s about 10 feet taller than the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown. The blades extend just shy of 400 feet, which is about half the height of the John Hancock Building in Boston.

Wind 1 stands 262 feet tall in Falmouth. As many as 50 residents of the town have complained of the health effects the turbine's noise and shadows have had on their lives.Jess Bidgood/WGBH 

Wind 1 stands 262 feet tall in Falmouth. As many as 50 residents of the town have complained of the health effects the turbine’s noise and shadows have had on their lives.

When it was installed last spring, Anderson didn’t think Wind One would cause a problem. For 35 years, he’s owned and operated a passive solar company on Cape Cod.

The energy conservationist in Anderson considered wind power a good principle. He wasn’t alone — before the turbine switched on, Falmouth residents almost universally welcomed Wind One as a symbol of renewable energy and a way to keep taxes down.

“I was proud looking at it from this viewpoint — until it started turning,” Anderson said.

But now, as many as 50 people are complaining about the turbine and the noise it makes at different speeds. A dozen families are retaining a lawyer for that reason.

“It is dangerous. Headaches. Loss of sleep. And the ringing in my ears never goes away. I could look at it all day, and it does not bother me. It’s quite majestic — but it’s way too close,” Anderson said.

Neighbors say this isn’t a debate about a turbine ruining their view, and their goal is not compensation. Some just want it turned off at night.

But Anderson can’t compromise. “This house has been my hobby, my investment, and we love it out here. We will move if we have to. Because we cannot live with (the turbine). No, we cannot,” Anderson said.

Wind One is expected to save the town about $375,000 a year in electricity. Heather Harper, Falmouth’s acting town manager, says Falmouth owes about $5 million on the 1.65-megawatt turbine.

Harper said one of the challenges of running the turbine is that the type of sound some neighbors complain about — that low-level pulse — isn’t regulated by the state. “The times I have been there I do not experience the impact of the effect that the neighbors have expressed that they’ve experienced. But I do believe that they are experiencing something that is very real to them,” Harper said.

Neil Anderson and his wife keep a log of how the turbine affects them. It shows nights of disrupted sleeping, headaches, and even mood-swings.Jess Bidgood/WGBH 

Neil Anderson and his wife keep a log of how the turbine affects them. It shows nights of disrupted sleeping, headaches, and even mood-swings.

David McGlinchey is with the non-partisan Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in Plymouth, which provides science-based information to policy makers. McGlinchey says that while Wind One has generated complaints, other turbines of similar size, including a 1.8-megawatt turbine in Hull, have been mostly well-received.

“The existing peer-reviewed studies suggest that there are no health effects associated with the sound and noise from wind turbines,” McGlinchey said. “That being said, people clearly experience symptoms. People have headaches, people have their sleep disturbed, people are not living well next to them in some situations. In some situations they are. So, both sides are right.”

Wind advocates say Falmouth’s experience has made it nearly impossible to get other turbines approved on Cape Cod, and potentially across the state. Last week, Falmouth’s selectmen acknowledged the issue and agreed to turn off the turbine when wind speeds exceed 23 miles per hour.

It’s unclear how much relief this will bring or how long it will last, since selectmen said more permanent mitigation efforts still must be negotiated.

One looming concern of neighbors is a second turbine, one of the same size and make that has gone up not far from the first. Falmouth’s Wind Two is scheduled to be turned on sometime this spring.

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