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By Robert Rapier on Sep 26, 2011 with 54 responses

When Agendas Trump Facts

Lessons Learned From a Recent Paper on Climate Change

Actually, the lessons were learned from the media’s reporting — and the reactions to that reporting — of a recent paper on climate change. The paper I am talking about is a study by Tom Wigley, who is a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The title of the study is Coal to gas: The influence of methane leakage.

To review, the study looked at the impact of replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas-fired power plants. Natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal per BTU of energy produced, and many therefore argue that natural gas is a good bridge fuel on the way to a future in which we would ideally have large-scale adoption of zero (technically “near zero”) emission sources of electricity. Natural gas has the advantage that it is firm power, and thus a realistic option for displacing coal-fired power with a much lower emissions profile.

The Wigley study weighs in by looking at the potential leaks from natural gas wells. What the study predicts is that the future temperate change is influenced by the amount of gas leaking from the well. In the worst case Wigley examined — 10% methane leakage — the long term temperature change was higher for natural gas plants than for coal plants for the next 100 years. The figure below from the report tells the tale.

Temperature Increase as a Function of Methane Leakage

The media immediately seized upon this with a heavy dose of sensationalism, declaring in headline after headline that natural gas would in fact be worse for the environment than coal. But lost in the sensationalism was: (1) Nobody believes that 10% natural gas is leaking from wells; (2) The long-term temperature change in all cases was lower than when using coal; and (3) The short-term temperature rise in each case was higher — even with zero methane leakage.

I thought the last point was significant, so I had some correspondence with the author of the study who confirmed some things for me. The predicted short-term temperature increase is due to a peculiarity of coal. Particulate emissions from coal plants of course cause air pollution, but they also reflect some sunlight away from earth. So as the air becomes cleaner due to coal plants being shut down, more sunlight reaches the surface of the earth. Now this next point is very important: That short-term temperature increase is predicted to happen no matter what replaces coal: Wind power, solar power, or even just shutting down coal plants and not replacing them. This isn’t a guess on my part, the study’s author confirmed that for me.

Of course this is not an argument against replacing coal plants. When coal plants are replaced with cleaner sources of power, the predicted temperature change in all cases begins to fall in about thirty years (again, with the exception of the unrealistic 10% methane leakage case). Plus, the elimination of particulate emissions would greatly improve the air quality in many locations.

I attempted to summarize all of this with my own sensationalistic headline — based on the media headlines about natural gas:

BOMBSHELL: Solar and Wind Power Would Speed Up, Not Reduce, Global Warming

I got quite a bit of interesting and unusual feedback on the essay. The reaction to the initial paper, as well as the reaction to my posting, provided a few lessons.

Lesson One: A Model isn’t a Fact

First is that people apparently don’t understand the difference between a model and an observation. This model is a best guess as to what will happen. If you understand models, you understand that they are subject to assumptions that may be incorrect. It’s like predicting the weather. So just as a forecast of rain doesn’t “prove” that it will rain, neither does this model “prove” that the temperature will rise under the modeled conditions. It is a prediction, not a measurement.

Lesson Two: Agendas >> Facts

I was a bit surprised at the extent of the sources that reported this story that appear to be agenda driven. An agenda-driven person will use this report to push their agenda, but won’t be interested in discussing bits that don’t fit the agenda. For example, Joe Romm at Climate Progress wrote an article on this, highlighting the “fact” that short-term warming increased in every case. Romm concluded:

If you want to have a serious chance at averting catastrophic global warming, then we need to start phasing out all fossil fuels as soon as possible.  Natural gas isn’t a bridge fuel from a climate perspective.  Carbon-free power is the bridge fuel until we can figure out how to go carbon negative on a large scale in the second half of the century.

Yes, the bridge fuel that Romm proposes to replace coal is carbon-free power. After all, we have that in abundance, right? I think I will start riding my unicorn to work just to show people that carbon-free power is here and readily available. So, Romm believes that we have to completely eliminate fossil fuels or we are going to have a disaster. But in pursuit of that agenda, he sometimes censors facts that contradict specific arguments he is making. For example, I attempted to point out on his site that the same short-term warming trend was predicted even if carbon-free sources replaced the coal plants. I commented that Dr. Wigley had confirmed this for me. While Joe saw fit to allow comments that agreed with him, or that added essentially zero to the conversation (e.g., “Climate change is exponential!” or “Phew, I smell gas!“), my comment went into moderation limbo. The next day I checked, and my comment no longer said “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” It was simply gone; apparently an inconvenient truth that Romm would rather not have discussed.

Another poster had added a comment in which he correctly noted that a subtlety appeared to be missing from the media reports; that the sulfate effect would seem to apply to other sources as well. I commented after his post:

I contacted the author about this, and he confirmed that even if we replaced coal-fired power plants with zero emission power sources, the conclusion is the same as for his natural gas comparison: Global warming increases in the short term. So you are correct, there is a subtlety that is missing from every story on this that I have seen to this point.

Once more, my comment went into moderation limbo. That was on September 11th, and here on September 25th it is still there, and it still says that it is awaiting moderation. I guess Romm believes that censoring facts that weaken the story he is spinning are warranted due to the importance of his agenda. And quite frankly, I believe that’s why the civility completely left the climate change debate. Each side thinks their agenda is so important that it is OK to shout down, censor, and insult those with dissenting opinions.

(Romm’s agenda would appear to be entirely political, considering how strongly he argued in favor of tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That is something that is at total odds with his climate change agenda — but is a favorite agenda item of some prominent Democrats. When I challenged him on his logic on this, he didn’t let that comment stand either. It certainly seemed to me that he was simply getting marching orders from someone to go defend tapping the SPR as good policy).

I can promise you that at this site, agendas will never get in the way of civil discussion. I may disagree with you, but I am not going to censor civil discussion. Joe Romm can’t say the same. Coal-fired power plants will certainly be in his debt, because the more he trashes natural gas, the more he will ensure that we continue to use coal while we wait for carbon-free power to replace those huge (but reliable) coal plants.

Lesson Three: People Don’t Like to Read

My essay was linked to at various places like Reddit, and some of the comments were amusing. The first thing I noted is that it was down-voted so fast that it was clear that people weren’t reading it. If I had any doubt about that, the comments people left eliminated any possibility that they had read the essay. Typical responses were “This moron thinks the solution to climate change is to build more coal plants” or “Way to trash wind and solar power.” Some comments on my blog weren’t that different. Many insisted that there were no implications for wind and solar power, with some suggesting I should contact the author. Had they actually read the essay they were commenting on, they would see that I had contacted the author and he confirmed what I was saying before I published the article.

Things finally got to the point that I put a disclaimer at the top of the essay: (Note: I am amazed that I have to put such a disclaimer in here, but a note for the comprehension-impaired: This is not an article calling for more coal-fired power plants. It is an examination into how the media reported on a recent energy story).

That still didn’t stop people from coming to incorrect conclusions based on the headline. Probably the funniest comment I saw was “What a bunch of garbage” followed about an hour later by the same person writing “Oh, the headline threw me. I actually read the article and it is pretty good.”

So I guess the lesson there is that headlines are important, but people have such short attention spans that some will come to a conclusion about the article on the basis of the headline without so much as reading the article itself.

  1. By Kit P on September 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

    “Another insightful post pointing out one of the big problems in our trying to make a case for a sane, sustainable carbon neutral energy paradigm. ”

     

    Missed that Edward. What RR again demonstrated is that you will draw unimportant conclusions about protecting the environment if you do not follow a systematic approach to solving a problem.

     

    The first fact is that the benefits of energy clearly out outweigh the risk. Without energy, Edward would be dead. Without energy, Edward would would not have the time or the computer to worry about sustainability.

     

    The second fact is the use of energy can impact the quality of our life by impacting the environment as demonstrated by air quality in cities.

     

    The first step is a systematic approach is to state the problem and the key assumptions. The key assumption is that we will use energy and the problem is how do we minimize the impact.

     

    The first step is a systematic approach is to identify all the factors that affect the environment and rank them. For example, safety is more important than climate because we can adapt to slow changes in climate because that is how we evolved as nomadic species.

     

    “The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion:

     

    “As of September 29, 2010, the death toll was eight people.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2….._explosion ”

     

    There are eight less people in the SF bay area to demand we shut down coal power plants.

     

    Over the lat 50 years in the US, we have implementation and followed various regulations including CWA, CAA, CECLA, RCRA, NEPA, Endangered Species Act, and OSHA. It is a matter of law in the US that before starting energy producers show that during normal operations the environmental impact is insignificant and the risk of accidents is very small.

     

    I know some have trouble with the word ‘insignificant’ but it mean not significant in the context of the world we live it.

     

    This brings us to climate change. When looking at ghg, 90% are natural sources and there is not geological evidence that ghg are a significant factor. So the AGW debate is about changing the 10% that man contributes.

     

    This brings us to the one aspect of producing energy n the US that is not regulated, ghg. It is a moot point to increase the environmental impact of making electricity with coal to reduce temperature increases.

     

    The point here is that the media is debating something that is past the debate stage. We are not going to take pollution controls off of coal plants.

     

    So what is the debate about? The NG industry wants to sell more fossil fuel.

     

    “the more he will ensure that we continue to use coal while we wait for carbon-free power to replace those huge (but reliable) coal plants. ”

     

    I do not think there is much of a size difference between a 1000 MWe coal plant an 1000 MWe CCGT. Terms like ‘huge’ give away the agenda. What is better, one huge power plant outside of town or 10 ‘small (about the size of a school)’ outside of town? If you answer not significant, then you would be correct. Size does not matter for environmental impact but it is a big factor is cheap.

     

    Also for the record, there is a reliable essentially carbon free source of power. Nuclear produces about the same amount of electricity as NG in the US.

     

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  2. By moiety on September 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Robert

     

    What you are describing is human nature. We can go to another sphere like movie making and see the same kind of action or reaction. And yes models are definately not facts as I have siad before. But that does not stop scientists and engineers and companies extrapolating them beyond their useful boundaries. Also when was the last time an energy company who wants to be sustainable made demand reduction a core part of their message?

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  3. By Edward Kerr on September 26, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Bob:
    Another insightful post pointing out one of the big problems in our trying to make a case for a sane, sustainable carbon neutral energy paradigm.
    Keep up the good work
    Edward

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  4. By rrapier on September 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Kit P said:

    So what is the debate about? The NG industry wants to sell more fossil fuel.


     

    That is ludicrous. I am sure the natural gas industry would be happy to sell more fossil fuel, but there are many people who have nothing to do with the natural gas industry who simply see natural gas as a cleaner option than coal. For someone who professes to be so concerned about people killed by natural gas, you don’t seem to be too concerned about the thousands sickened and killed by coal emissions. I am sure you are aware that numerous studies conclude that there are thousands of premature deaths each year as a result of emissions from coal-fired power plants. On the other hand, I am sure you are happy to hand wave those statistics away while trying to push your own agenda that coal is better for us. 

    “the more he will ensure that we continue to use coal while we wait for
    carbon-free power to replace those huge (but reliable) coal plants. ”

     

    I do not think there is much of a size difference between a 1000 MWe
    coal plant an 1000 MWe CCGT. Terms like ‘huge’ give away the agenda.
    What is better, one huge power plant outside of town or 10 ‘small (about
    the size of a school)’ outside of town? If you answer not
    significant, then you would be correct. Size does not matter for
    environmental impact but it is a big factor is cheap.

    In your rush to jump to conclusions — or perhaps because you never take off your blinders — you fail to realize why I used the word “huge.” That is meant to convey the fact that we won’t be replacing our 1 GW coal plants with carbon-free power. It is a fantasy, because there is no carbon-free power that is scalable to the capacity of our coal plants. So by pushing exclusively for carbon-free power, what will happen is simply to ensure that the coal plants keep running.

    RR

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  5. By Marlowe Johnson on September 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Robert,

    I greatly appreciated your initial post on this subject and it’s’ disappointing to see Romm behaving this way. While he has many useful things to say on climate and clean tech, this sort of behaviour on his part is singularly unhelpful and unbecoming.

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  6. By Kit P on September 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    This is really boring but just out,

    Pipeline Accident Report: Pacific Gas and Electric Company Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture and Fire, San Bruno, CA, September 9, 2010

    http://www.ntsb.gov/news/event…..index.html

     

    “The fabrication of five of the pups in 1956 would not have met generally accepted industry quality control and welding standards then in effect, indicating that those standards were either overlooked or ignored. The weld defect in the failed pup would have been visible when it was installed”

     

    This what is called a latent error which should have been detected in 1956.

     

    The present big picture.

     

    “Without effective and meaningful metrics in performance-based pipeline safety management programs, neither PG&E nor the California Public Utilities Commission was able to effectively evaluate or assess PG&E’s pipeline system.”

     

    Say what you will but this is not evidence that California utilities and regulators are doing a good job.

     

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  7. By Walt on September 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

     

    That is ludicrous. I am sure the natural gas industry would be happy to sell more fossil fuel, but there are many people who have nothing to do with the natural gas industry who simply see natural gas as a cleaner option than coal. For someone who professes to be so concerned about people killed by natural gas, you don’t seem to be too concerned about the thousands sickened and killed by coal emissions. I am sure you are aware that numerous studies conclude that there are thousands of premature deaths each year as a result of emissions from coal-fired power plants. On the other hand, I am sure you are happy to hand wave those statistics away while trying to push your own agenda that coal is better for us. 


     

    Actually, coal plants have effected us in Michigan, especially the fishing in the great lakes due to mercury levels.

     

    http://www.environmentmichigan…..es/mercury

    In April 2006, Gov. Granholm listened to the people of Michigan
    and announced her decision to require Michigan’s
    coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015. While reductions can and should take place
    before 2015, the governor’s decision is nonetheless a significant milestone in
    efforts to protect Michiganders from the dangers of toxic mercury.

     

    http://www.environmentmichigan…..n-michigan

     

    For Immediate Release:

    2011-01-26

    For More Information:

    Contact Shelley Vinyard

    (734) 662-9797

    New Report: Detroit Edison Power Plant Emits Most Mercury Pollution in Michigan

    Ann Arbor, MI – The Detroit Edison Power Plant in Monroe emits
    1,235 pounds of mercury every year—the most in Michigan—according to the
    new Environment Michigan report, Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health:
    Mercury. The report found that power plants in Michigan emitted 4,012
    pounds of mercury pollution in 2009, ranking it 10th highest in the
    country.  The report comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    is set to propose a standard by March to limit mercury and other toxic
    air pollution from power plants.

    “Powering our homes should not poison Michigan’s kids,” said Nicole
    Lowen, State Associate for Environment Michigan`. “Mercury pollution
    from power plants puts our kids and our environment at risk, and we need
    the Environmental Protection Agency to force these facilities to clean
    up.”

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  8. By Benny BND Cole on September 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Excellent post by Robert Rapier.

    BTW oil down under $80 today. Given the relative steadiness of actual global demand, I suspect oil can trade for $60 north of its “true” price on speculation fever at any time. The downside is less, as you get to zero, or perhaps $20, something of a floor.

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  9. By rrapier on September 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Kit P said:

    “The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion:

     

    “As of September 29, 2010, the death toll was eight people.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2….._explosion ”

     

    There are eight less people in the SF bay area to demand we shut down coal power plants.


     

    Kit is a big fan of the use of anecdotal evidence when it suits him. Anecdotal evidence is very useful for people inconvenienced by statistics and scientific studies. It is an attempt to appeal to emotions by presenting a biased picture. I can play too:

    The miners and townspeople recall a grim week in a West Virginia coal town: an explosion, prayers amid worst fears, false hopes, a cruel twist and then a final realization that 12 workers are dead.

    It was the worst mining disaster in the United States since the Jim Walter Resources Mine Disaster in Alabama on September 23, 2001, killed 13 people, and the worst disaster in West Virginia since the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster that killed 78 people.

    Then there’s this:

    The mine, with more than 270 safety citations in the last two years, is the latest example of how workers’ risks are balanced against company profits in an industry with pervasive political clout and patronage inroads in government regulatory agencies.

    While I frequently see Kit post statistics of people killed by natural gas, I have yet to see him address people killed by coal. It’s as if that isn’t an actual problem in his world.

    RR

     

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  10. By rrapier on September 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Walt said:

    The report found that power plants in Michigan emitted 4,012 pounds of mercury pollution in 2009, ranking it 10th highest in the country.


     

    This will be Kit’s cue to tell us that mercury is natural, and that there is no proof that it is harming anyone. I presume that’s the case, because that’s what he did the last time we discussed mercury emissions.

    RR

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  11. By Kit P on September 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    “I am sure you are aware that numerous studies conclude that there are thousands of premature deaths each year as a result of emissions from coal-fired power plants.”

     

    Yes, I have actually read these reports rather than rely on the media. Let say you live on a city with lots of high surfer diesel being burned resulting in air pollution. Then you have a bunch of old people with chronic illness associated with 50 years of smoking and obesity. What the cities where these studies were done do not have is a coal power plant.

     

    To be concerned about a coal plant 200 miles away I would need more information. How much of the ‘premature’ was the result of coal plants? Second what law of physics causes the particulate to concentrate in the cities.

     

    Another reason I am not concerned is that new regulations since the studies have required low sulfur diesel and pollution controls on coal plants.

     

    “On the other hand, I am sure you are happy to hand wave those statistics away while trying to push your own agenda that coal is better for us.  ”

     

    My agenda is having a reliable supply of electricity that is both affordable and a welcome part of the community because the environmental impact does not make the community an unhealthy place to live. Since new coal, CCGT, and nuke plants are being built to meet our needs it looks like reality trumps media perception.

     

    “It is a fantasy ”

     

    Maybe so but so are the problems. AGW is a great problem to have. Both sides can argue. Both sides can be ineffective. You do not need a computer model to tell you that you have problem. Yes a tree can fall on my house but I do not want to live in a apartment building surrounded by a parking lot with ornamental trees.

     

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  12. By rrapier on September 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Kit P said:

    Yes, I have actually read these reports rather than rely on the media. Let say you live on a city with lots of high surfer diesel being burned resulting in air pollution. Then you have a bunch of old people with chronic illness associated with 50 years of smoking and obesity. What the cities where these studies were done do not have is a coal power plant.

     

    To be concerned about a coal plant 200 miles away I would need more information. How much of the ‘premature’ was the result of coal plants? Second what law of physics causes the particulate to concentrate in the cities.

     

    Another reason I am not concerned is that new regulations since the studies have required low sulfur diesel and pollution controls on coal plants.


     

    Classic Kit tactics. First, point the finger at someone else; diesel in this case. Second, downplay the lives of those impacted and suggest that they brought it on themselves. Third, suggest that it simply isn’t possible for coal plants to have caused the problem since they are so far away in this example Kit just made up. Finally, assure everyone that the problems that don’t even exist are being addressed in any case (something that never seems to be a possibility when he is denigrating natural gas).

    RR

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  13. By Rufus on September 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    In the Real world it’s a non-issue. Normal people (and, their local politicians – mostly) don’t give two hoots, and a holler about See Oh Two, and AGW. They care about affordable energy, and the local economy (and, those sweet, sweet property taxes.)

    For this reason, “coal,” and “nat gas” are on a downward glidepath. The people are opting for the local jobs, and economic boost that comes with Wind, and Solar.

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  14. By paul-n on September 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Rufus, the fundamental conundrum with “affordable” and “renewable/local” energy, is that the renewable stuff is not as affordable as coal.

    This chart shows that, unless you have lots of cheap hydro, the electricty rates start to go up as you replace coal with everything else;

    {source}

    So, if people want the local jobs doing wind and solar and other renewables (biogas, biomass, micro hydro, etc), they can have that, if everyone is prepared to wear an increase in electricity prices.

    There may be an economic boost from gov subsidised installations of wind and solar equipment, but does that counteract the economic deflation caused by energy intensive indsutries leaving those areas – California being a prime example?

     

     

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  15. By Kit P on September 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    “This will be Kit’s cue to tell us that mercury is natural, and that there is no proof that it is harming anyone. ”

     

    That is because Walt did not provide any evidence that eating fish from the Great Lakes will cause harm. Mercury is natural we all have mercury in our bodies therefore from Walt’s link:

     

    “Mercury pollution is a widespread health risk. ”

     

    Notice the clever deceptive language. Most of do not care if a poison is natural or from human sources. We care if poison is above a threshold of harm. This is something the CDC monitors and found no children or young women above the threshold of harm.

     

    Harm is something that happens to people. Risk is not the same as hurting someone. I am at risk of getting hit with lighting but I am not harmed until I actually get hit.

     

    “Kit is a big fan of the use of anecdotal evidence .. ”

     

    No those are dead people. Furthermore, they died minding their own business in their homes. Furthermore I provided a link to the investigative report. We could make a model claiming how many are at risk from NG pipeline failure but here is the problem. From the investigative report, the pipeline owner does not have the data to determine risk.

     

    I do not have a problem with anecdotal evidence. Further more, the San Bruno event is not anecdotal evidence, it is well established facts supported by an investigative report indicating that it is not just a random event but a significant issue.

     

    I have reported here anecdotal evidence the only two recent cases of mercury poison for two children was caused by the NG industry who contaminated 9000 homes in the Midwest. It is only anecdotal evidence because I am reporting what I read and not providing a link.

     

    “In April 2006, Gov. Granholm listened to the people of Michigan ”

     

    Does that sound political Walt? If you are not sure, the same clever deceptive language is widespread. Yet no actual smoking gun of children with mercury poisoning. If I lived in Michigan, I would want to know if there was an actually problem before spending millions to fix it.

     

    It is also a mute point. POTUS Bush signed legislation to regulate mercury from coal plants.

     

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  16. By Walt on September 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Kit P said:

    That is because Walt did not provide any evidence that eating fish from the Great Lakes will cause harm. Mercury is natural we all have mercury in our bodies therefore from Walt’s link: 


     

    It is all detailed in this study.  There are several here too:

     

    http://www.michigan.gov/docume…..2256_7.pdf

     

    http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,…..–,00.html

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  17. By rrapier on September 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Kit P said:

    Mercury is natural we all have mercury in our bodies therefore from Walt’s link:


     

    Yes, hence the warnings — especially for pregnant women — not to eat too much tuna. No problem here. Move along, nothing to see.

    Trasande, et al., estimated that between 316,588 and 631,233 children are born in the U.S. each year with blood mercury levels high enough to impair performance on neurodevelopmental tests. These authors further concluded that this lifelong diminution in intelligence costs society $8.7 billion per year (range $2.2–$43.8 billion in 2000 dollars).

    But I guess as long as nobody died, we can give those mercury emissions a free pass. That could be your new motto: “There is no pollution problem as long as we don’t eat or drink the things that are polluted.” Problem solved. It’s like your risk analogy: The risk isn’t relevant as long as people aren’t being harmed. And if they would stop eating fish, they would stop being harmed and the coal industry wouldn’t have to install those costly scrubbers.

    I do not have a problem with anecdotal evidence.

    Yes, I realized that a long time ago. That’s why you are often contradicting yourself. The problem with anecdotal evidence is that it really doesn’t tell you anything. If we read that 8 people died in a pipeline explosion, that’s a tragedy. But anecdotes — even a whole bunch of them — don’t tell us anything about the relative safety versus other options. The kind of evidence I prefer would be a study looking into the overall health and environmental impacts of one versus another, not anecdotes of individual incidents. When we do that, your anecdotes don’t fare very well (which is why you prefer anecdotes when the studies don’t back you up). I don’t operate that way. If the studies don’t back me up, I don’t start searching for anecdotes. Instead, I change my mind.

    It is also a mute point. POTUS Bush signed legislation to regulate mercury from coal plants.

    Classic Kit again. “There is no problem here. Besides, even if there was it is being fixed.” One thing you should have learned on this board is that signing legislation isn’t the same thing as actual results. Congress signed legislation to put 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the fuel supply this year. Where is it?

    RR

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  18. By Kit P on September 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    “Classic Kit tactics. First, point the finger at someone else; diesel in this case. ”

     

    Let’s talk scientific methodology and the English language. If I shoot someone with a gun. The coroner will say cause of death is gsw. It would be accurate to say that I killed someone. Of course, if the gun was owned by an armed bugler and was used to kill other people in their homes before invading my house; then the killing might be justified.

     

    The point is that the word ‘killing’ denotes a sudden loss life by accidental or intentional act. So maybe RR should have a little stronger evidence before say that people are being ‘killed’.

     

    So how do most people die in places that have a relivable supply of electricity: From wiki:

     

    “The leading causes of death in developed countries are atherosclerosis (heart disease and stroke), cancer, and other diseases related to obesity and aging. ”

     

    The scientific methodology for establishing environmental regulations looks at lower levels of pollutant than we know ‘kill’ people to establish practical limits for regulations. One example is fine particles, or PM 2.5 which may be a precursor or last straw to someone who is very ill already. The studies are based on statistics of air pollution in poor areas of large inner cities with air pollution problems.

     

    The doctors doing these studies do not look at the sources of the pollution since they are not environmental engineers. The EPA looks at the benefit of reducing pollution from say 120 ppb to 80 ppb and estimates that 30k less premature deaths might result. Of course the death might occur two weeks later in a really nice day. The EPA might also list the source of the PM 2.5.

     

    Now if your agenda is reducing, the impact of air pollution in Los Angles, then you would look at sources of pollution like diesel trucks and maybe push for low sulfur diesel and CNG.

     

    “Third, suggest that it simply isn’t possible for coal plants to have caused the problem since they are so far away ”

     

    I think if you are saying people are being ‘killed’ it would be very civil indeed to show why it is likely.

     

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  19. By russ-finley on September 26, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    So I guess the lesson there is that headlines are important, but people have such short attention spans that some will come to a conclusion about the article on the basis of the headline without so much as reading the article itself.

    I see this all the time in comment debates. A guy will search the Internet for an article that supports his point but only reads the headline, which was crafted to get attention, not convey what the body of the article contains. I read those sources because more times than not they refute said debate partner’s point rather than support it.

    When one owns a blog, the temptation to censure can be hard to resist.

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  20. By Kit P on September 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    “It is all detailed in this study.  There are several here too: ”

     

    Good links Walt:

     

    “In the first full year of reporting (2006) MDCH received over 4,500 clinical laboratory reports of mercury tests in blood and urine. About half of the tests did not find any detectable levels, and most of the rest were within the normal range. Follow-up is underway for the 30 test results that were higher than normal.”

     

    The study is much better than Washington State and most other states I have read. Complexity increases since Washington State has only two legacy sites while Michigan has a bunch. One of the reason coal fired power plants are the highest source of mercury emissions is that we have regulated the others already.

     

    Michigan is a major industrial state with lots of coal plants. So the news is that there is no smoking gun for mercury poisoning.

     

    “But I guess as long as nobody died, we can give those mercury emissions a free pass. ”

     

    Of course nobody is giving mercury a free pass but considering all the evidence that 99.9 percent of mercury is from other sources both natural and from legacy sources, it just seem odd to focus on coal unless you have an agenda. What RR does not understand.

     

    “Although the RfD represents a “safe” level of exposure, exposure levels above the RfD are not a statement of the magnitude of potential health risk.”

    [link]      
  21. By rrapier on September 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Kit P said:

    The point is that the word ‘killing’ denotes a sudden loss life by accidental or intentional act. So maybe RR should have a little stronger evidence before say that people are being ‘killed’.


     

    So per your definition, someone can’t be killed by cancer. Odd. I suggest you get yourself a dictionary then if that’s your argument. I have one in front of me, and it defines “Killed” as “Cause the death of a person, animal, or other living thing. The modifier “sudden” does not appear in there. So if the fact that coal emissions merely shorten some people’s lives instead of suddenly killing them is your argument, then there is really nothing to discuss.

    RR

    [link]      
  22. By rrapier on September 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Kit P said:

    “So per your definition, someone can’t be killed by cancer. ”

     

    Don’t be coy RR! You said coal killed people but did not establish any facts to support it.


     

    Using words in commonly accepted fashion isn’t being coy. Trying to redefine terms to suit you is. I can produce plenty of peer-reviewed studies on people killed because of coal. But you try to get around that by redefining “killed.” Frankly, it is one of the more ridiculous arguments you have ever made, and that’s saying a lot. But if you want to stand behind your contention that coal doesn’t kill people, I am happy to let you do so because it makes you look so silly. No need to show you any of those studies given the hoops you are willing to jump through to avoid addressing them. “No, that person wasn’t killed by coal; his life expectancy was merely reduced.” Wow.
     

    Once again, the 8 killed by the NG pipeline is not anecdotal evidence
    and the investigation revealed poor management that endangered the
    public. Actual events with know causes.

    Then you also don’t understand what anecdotal evidence actually is. It is evidence out of context of the bigger picture under discussion. When discussing whether natural gas is safer than coal, picking individual incidents with natural gas — without discussing overall death rates for both — is anecdotal.

    So to summarize, I am arguing with someone perfectly willing to change definitions to suit his purpose, and unfamiliar with the actual terms under discussion. No wonder there can be no rational arguments with you.

    RR

     

    [link]      
  23. By rrapier on September 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Ralph Hayes said:

    RR: Interesting that your posts to Joe Romm’s blog are censored.  Perhaps Kit P needs to take his opinions there. 


     

    His anti-natural gas arguments would be most welcome, but not the pro-coal stuff. So Joe might just excise those parts, leaving the impression that Kit is merely anti-gas.

    RR

    [link]      
  24. By rrapier on September 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Walt said:

     

    Actually, coal plants have effected us in Michigan, especially the fishing in the great lakes due to mercury levels.


     

    By the way, thought you might appreciate this one: Natural Gas Flaring in North Dakota

    [link]      
  25. By perry1961 on September 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Trading Oil for Natural Gas in the Truck Lane

    http://news.nationalgeographic…..y%29#16861

    [link]      
  26. By Kit P on September 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

    “So per your definition, someone can’t be killed by cancer. ”

     

    Don’t be coy RR! You said coal killed people but did not establish any facts to support it.

     

    Cancer might be listed as a cause of death. However, you can not cause someone to die of cancer.

     

    You can not kill someone with cancer. You can kill even healthy people with pollutions. However, that was a long time ago and we fixed those problems.

     

    “The problem with anecdotal evidence is that it really doesn’t tell you anything. ”

     

    Once again, the 8 killed by the NG pipeline is not anecdotal evidence and the investigation revealed poor management that endangered the public. Actual events with know causes.

     

    [link]      
  27. By Ben on September 27, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Having actually taken the time to read these blogs while engaging in a measure of independent analysis courtesy of access to a number of our national labs, I’d say this Rapier fellow continues to provide a valuable
    public service. Recognizing the old axiom that “no good deed goes unpunished,” we can fully expect self-appointed “do-gooders” to keep thumbing their nose at his objective analysis and unapologetic style.
    So, I simply offer this: keep up the march RR! The truth shall set us free.

    Ben G.

    [link]      
  28. By Ralph Hayes on September 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Ben said:

    Having actually taken the time to read these blogs while engaging in a measure of independent analysis courtesy of access to a number of our national labs, I’d say this Rapier fellow continues to provide a valuable

    public service.


     

    And once again – a good discussion is being waylaid by Kit P.  I echo my earlier sentiments placed here months ago and ask RR or Sam to ‘cull’ this ‘distraction’ from this blog.  Kit needs to initiate his own discussion somewhere else where pro-nukers can congregate with him – and leave this space open to more interesting dialoge worth sharing and responding to.

    RR: Interesting that your posts to Joe Romm’s blog are censored.  Perhaps Kit P needs to take his opinions there. 

    I and others tend to not read Kit’s posts full of misspelled words.  Yet here he is again spoiling the rudimentary elements of this particular discussion topic on your public blog.  Such a waste.  Please take a formal or informal poll and then delete this fellow.  You’ve fought this one for years now.

     

    [link]      
  29. By rrapier on September 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    perry1961 said:

    Trading Oil for Natural Gas in the Truck Lane

    http://news.nationalgeographic…..y%29#16861


     

    Kit’s not going to like that. After all, how many times has he told us what a terrible fuel natural gas is? Of course millions of vehicles worldwide run on natural gas, but Kit has spoken.

    RR

    [link]      
  30. By Benny BND Cole on September 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    OT, but wow.
    “Toyota’s new Aqua hybrid to offer industry-leading gas mileage
    27 September 2011
    The Nikkei reports that the compact hybrid Toyota Motor Corp. plans to launch in January is expected to travel up to nearly 40km on a liter of gasoline (2.5 L/100km, 94 mpg US) under a new Japanese testing standard, which reflects actual driving patterns more closely than its predecessor.

    This new hybrid will use the same powertrain as the highly popular Prius, helping to hold down development costs. Featuring a more compact design, the Aqua will not only beat the Prius’ 32km fuel economy, but also likely sell for around 1.7 million yen, around 300,000 yen cheaper than the Prius.’

    A production car that gets 94 mpg?

    Have we hit Peak Demand yet? Are you sure?

    [link]      
  31. By Walt on September 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Robert Rapier said:

    Walt said:

     

    Actually, coal plants have effected us in Michigan, especially the fishing in the great lakes due to mercury levels.


     

    By the way, thought you might appreciate this one: Natural Gas Flaring in North Dakota


     

    Thank you.  Yes, it is really very sad.  About a week ago someone from a service company in North Dakota called me and said that he heard from someone well placed that the EPA was about to step in and regulate the emissions.  The real sad thing is that the regulators in North Dakota refuse to even threaten to shut-down production, or limit production, because too much money is being made by both oil companies and the government.  They are not interested in new technologies to convert fared assciated gas to liquids.  That costs money, and even makes good money, but they want no press coverage on this problem.  The worse it gets the more you will get companies saying this:

    “I’ll tell
    you why people flare: It’s cheap,” said Troy Anderson, lead
    operator of a North Dakota gas-processing plant owned by Whiting Petroleum. “Pipelines are expensive:
    You have to maintain them. You need permits to build them. They are a
    pain.”

     

    The government tells me this:

     

    Pursuant to North Dakota Century Code
    Section 38-08-06.4, an oil well may be flared during a one-year period from the
    date of first production from the well.  Our 61st Legislative
    Assembly passed Senate Bill No. 2413 (attached) amending the statute (North
    Dakota Century Code Section 38-08-06.4) effective July 1, 2009.  The
    amendment allowed flaring to continue if the well could be equipped with an
    electrical generator that consumes at least seventy-five percent of the gas
    from the well.  If the well was not shut-in, connected to a gas gathering
    line, or equipped to said electrical generation, then the producer would be
    subject to paying taxes and royalties on the flared gas.  The statute does
    provide an exemption to paying taxes and royalties on flared gas if connecting
    the well to a natural gas gathering line is economically infeasible at the time
    of the application or in the foreseeable future or that a market for the gas is
    not available and that equipping the well with an electrical generator to
    produce electricity from the gas is economically infeasible.  A company
    that promoted the legislation, has tried diligently for over two years to find
    a profitable project.  The North Dakota Oil and Gas Research Council,
    which is state-funded, also provided $375,000 in research funds to assist the
    company in obtaining an economic project.  There is also another company
    that has entered into a pilot project with an oil producer in an attempt to
    utilize gas until the well(s) can be connected to a gas processing facility.

     

    What is the problem?  The legislature said only electrical production can be used beside pipeline, and if it is not economic (which those of us in the industry know it is not economic to make electricity from flared gas and connet to the grid) than you can flare all day long, every day, year after year without restricted flares in North Dakota.  100 million cubic feet of rich liquids associated gas is flared daily!!!

     

    Regulators will not stop flaring (like everywhere in the world) because oil companies want unrestricted production, pay the penalty and share the wealth with the state government.  It is all about how incentives are designed (same with renewables) and I can call oil company after oil company about a process working here in Michigan and they say, “Thanks for the information.  We have no plans right now to stop flaring until pipelines are built as electricy makes money.”

    [link]      
  32. By Kit P on September 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

    “You need permits to build them. They are a pain. ”

     

    Or the pipelines blow up and kill people. It is nice to see that Walt and RR are maintaining focus on what is really important and missed the number of workers killed or sent to the hospital in North Dakota this week.

     

    It is matter of regulations that safety comes first and then protecting the environment. The environmental benefit of flaring sour gas is large but the benefit of making electricity is small. Making electricity with LFG is one of the cheapest sources of renewable energy. From a practical standpoint there is not difference between sour gas when it comes to making electrical other than the labels watermelons put on things.

     

    I do see a career opportunity for Walt and RR. They can move North Dakota and make electricity. Of course they will have to live on the income from making electricity because there is no one who wants to pay extra from something that has little value. Oh yeah, did I mention that you will have to follow our rules for protecting workers once you close the breaker and start sending power to the grid.

     

     

    [link]      
  33. By Walt on September 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Kit P said:

    I do see a career opportunity for Walt and RR. They can move North Dakota and make electricity. Of course they will have to live on the income from making electricity because there is no one who wants to pay extra from something that has little value. Oh yeah, did I mention that you will have to follow our rules for protecting workers once you close the breaker and start sending power to the grid.

     

     


     

    Actually, as you see above in the quote from the North Dakota regulator, they have even given a grant to a company to convert flared gas into electricity and it still does not make any money.  I have studied the application and the technology they are using to make electricity.  You can find it online.  The reference to an article is here:

     

    http://www.wday.com/event/arti…../id/33592/

     

    Your idea about me moving to North Dakota to make electricity is foolish.  I’m making liquids here in Michigan worth far more than electricity, and although a larger CAPEX the return is faster than generating power to the grid.  Of course, if one is making power onsite and avoiding the cost of grid power then of course I cannot compete.  That onsight power is well known and common to all facilities to run compressors, pump jacks, lights, etc. Onsight power makes good sense.  Making electricity to sell to the grid is an economic model, and regulators KNOW it does not make any money so PRODUCERS know they will always be able to flare…why?

     

    Because they are exempted from regulation if they can show there is no money making electricity and selling to the grid.  Why on earth would I go to North Dakota to make electricity when I can making profitable liquids, and operators DON’T WANT TO STOP FLARING AND PAY FOR OUR EQUIPMENT IF REGULATORS ARE SILENT ON THE GASTECHNO GTL OPTION?  I’ll stay here in Michigan and keep building the next commercial scale unit in my garage as I’m doing now…

     

    Flaring producers don’t want any more costs onsite.  They want to complain about pipelines and electricity generation…and FLARE BABY FLARE because they can get away with it.  You speak about a solution, and they will remove your comment from their websites or the bloggers will remove the fact there is a solution and complain about the environment.  Kit will complain about everyone being killed…but he is clearly nuts!

     

    [link]      
  34. By Kit P on September 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

    “The reference to an article is here: “

     

    Sorry Walt the article you linked is not the least bit specific on technologies. Wanting to do something and doing something are two different things. They are investigating the issue.

     

    “I’m making liquids here in Michigan worth far more than electricity, and although a larger CAPEX the return is faster than generating power to the grid.”

     

    Walt you persist in promoting your technology here and I wish you well. This is why I do not critique in specific terms your process.

     

    In general terms when it comes to ‘waste’ try not to be penny wise and pound fooling.

     

    “Kit will complain about everyone being killed…but he is clearly nuts! ”

     

    Actually I complain about anybody being killed. ‘Wasting’ a life is a terrible thing. Wasting a little energy is not. I have saved at least three children form certain injury and probable death. I was the only adult who was alert and acted. Another time I was pumping gas early in the morning when a young man with a toddler got in the car throwing the kid in the front seat and driving away with an empty car seat in back. I did nothing because I was not alert.

     

    If you think I am nuts you may want to avoid a job at a nuke plant. We have fitness for duty requires that include not being nuts. We are also required to be alert so we do not let workers get hurt because of the many hazards.

     

    The point Walt is that I am not too concerned about flaring because it it is way better than not flaring. Unless you have a use for the energy, it is not wasted. However, if you think that you do have a use then you have to play be the rules. That means someone like me will critique your process and not let you kill people because you suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder for wasting energy.

    [link]      
  35. By rrapier on September 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Kit P said:

    “Kit will complain about everyone being killed…but he is clearly nuts! ”

     

    Actually I complain about anybody being killed.


     

    Unless they are killed by coal. Then you change the definition of the word killed to suit you. Or, if they are killed in coal mines you make up all sorts of excuses and tell us not to jump to conclusions. So you are not an equal opportunity complainer, and never have been. You are a self-serving complainer.

    RR

    [link]      
  36. By rrapier on September 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Kit P said:

    It is nice to see that Walt and RR are maintaining focus on what is really important and missed the number of workers killed or sent to the hospital in North Dakota this week.


     

    By the way, when was the last time you did this when we were discussing coal? I can tell you. Never, because you are a hypocrite. I don’t recall you bringing the following recent incident to light on the board and discussing it. Odd since you are concerned about possible deaths in North Dakota, yet you have shown no interest in a death in a coal-fired power plant in your own backyard that happened just over a week ago:

    OSHA hadn’t inspected fatal plant since 2000

    Ned Johnson, 63, of Rivesville, was killed shortly before noon at the plant near Haywood, north of Clarksburg. Johnson, an operations technician, was a 25-year-veteran of Allegheny Power. He is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren.

    Johnson was working in a plant tunnel where coal is transported by conveyor belt, when he somehow became pinned between a piece of machinery and a guardrail, said Leni Uddyback-Fortson, labor department spokeswoman.

    Your behavior here is loathsome; it really is. You use fatalities to promote an agenda, as long as they are the right kind of fatalities for you. If they aren’t, you just ignore or downplay them. Despicable.

    Also, when did you ever profess any sort of sympathy or concern over the massive numbers of people displaced from their homes in Japan as a result of the nuclear accident? Never, you instead tried to deflect attention to the deaths from the tsunami. Had we been talking about people being permanently evacuated due to some incident with natural gas, we would have never heard the end of it.

    You are truly one of the biggest hypocrites I have ever seen in my life. And frankly, I have about had my fill of it.

    RR

    [link]      
  37. By Walt on September 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Kit P said:

    “The reference to an article is here: “

     

    Sorry Walt the article you linked is not the least bit specific on technologies. Wanting to do something and doing something are two different things. They are investigating the issue.


     

    Kit, I said it was a reference to an article on the project.  It was not the grant application which is available with some digging.  As I said, “I have studied the application and the technology they are using to make electricity.  You can find it online.”  However, the actual summary of the project is here entitled, “Flare Gas – Power Generation Commercial Viability Pilot”  http://www.nd.gov/ndic/ogrp/in…..ummary.pdf

     

    I am not able to find the application via a quick search, but my colleague found it digging further.  It is 17 pages called:

    Project Title: Flare Gas – Power Generation Commercial Viability Pilot
    Applicant: Blaise Energy Inc.
    Principal Investigator: Pascal Boudreau
    Date of Application: Oct. 23, 2009
    Amended Jan 13, 2010
    Amount of Request: $425,000
    Total Amount of Proposed Project: $7,475,000
    Duration of Project: 18 months

    You will have to do the digging as I don’t have…especially when I assume you are not intereted…just questioning what I wrote to be in error.

     

    [link]      
  38. By Walt on September 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I just had to post this video clip.  This guy has really stirred up some controversy worldwide, but people need to know this is exactly how traders think and how they operate business.  You can see this in all the SEC investigations ongoing where traders stole money from their investors because they knew how to steal, and figured they would never get caught.  For those who read these investigations…when this guy says traders dream about the collapsing market it is exactly correct.  They thrive on major market movements and make billions.

     

    One of the best interviews I’ve heard in a long-time on BBC…even if it scared everyone in the office holding the cameras.

     

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/medi…..s-bbc-hoax

     

    12 months…

    [link]      
  39. By Walt on September 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Walt said:

    I just had to post this video clip.  This guy has really stirred up some controversy worldwide, but people need to know this is exactly how traders think and how they operate business.  You can see this in all the SEC investigations ongoing where traders stole money from their investors because they knew how to steal, and figured they would never get caught.  For those who read these investigations…when this guy says traders dream about the collapsing market it is exactly correct.  They thrive on major market movements and make billions.

     

    One of the best interviews I’ve heard in a long-time on BBC…even if it scared everyone in the office holding the cameras.

     

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/medi…..s-bbc-hoax

     

    12 months…


     

    By the way, I forgot to mention…when you go down farther it is called a hoax.  Before people miss the point, again, it was to understand how traders think (whether it is argued a hoax or not) if you read the SEC investigations.  That is the point.  This guy knows fear rules the markets and traders are the one’s who can make money on the market crashes as well as the bull markets.

    [link]      
  40. By Kit P on September 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks for the link. Walt writes,

     

    “You will have to do the digging as I don’t have…especially when I assume you are not intereted…just questioning what I wrote to be in error. ”

     

    Over seven million for less than 1 MWe of capacity based on the information provided. I am certainly interested. Give me seven million and I will give you a 1 MWe of dairy farms generation with real environmental benefit. With the profits I will have the biggest corporate sailboat you ever did see.

     

    But Walt the power produced will not pay the O&M. Go back in a couple of years and the flair will be burning and the engine will be scrap metal.

    [link]      
  41. By Kit P on September 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    “Unless they are killed by coal. ”

     

    I did provide the investigation report on the Lower Big Branch Mine soon after it came out. I am also very critical of the safety record of coal mining in China.

     

    “To be sure, NG is statistically one of the best ways to provide energy. ”

     

    http://www.consumerenergyrepor…..on-energy/

     

    That does not sound like I am anti-natural gas.

     

    What I wrote about coal.

     

    ‘To put it into perspective, in the US or OECD other countries, making electricity with coal at a large 1000 MWe plant would result in one death on average every 10 years.  ‘

     

    RR writes,

     

    “Odd since you are concerned about possible deaths in North Dakota, yet you have shown no interest in a death in a coal-fired power plant in your own backyard that happened just over a week ago: ”

     

    Not my back yard, not my utility but thanks for the link. According the article, the last fatality was 1994 and the plant has a good safety record. Never the less, being crushed by coal handling equipment sounds like a preventable accident.

     

    “Also, when did you ever profess any sort of sympathy or concern over the massive numbers of people displaced from their homes in Japan as a result of the nuclear accident? ”

     

    That is because I am a liberal not a bleeding heart liberal. Japan is country with more volcanoes than the US has nuke plants and is prone to earthquakes. The Japanese appear to be very stoic people and would not likely want my sympathy. If you look at how the rich Japanese are handling a historic natural disaster compared to places like Haiti. Because the later needed help, we went a check to the Red Cross.

     

    Furthermore, as an American in the nuclear industry I am not sure that I should feel guilty any more that he does about what happened to refineries in Japan. It doe not appear that RR was even concerned enough to find out.

     

    Finally the point that RR just does not get. I do not need to make excuses for inexcusable loss of life because there was not loss of life. People in Japan at the nuke plants did a great job after a terrible natural disaster.

     

    “Your behavior here is loathsome; it really is. You use fatalities to promote an agenda, “

     

    My agenda is reducing fatalities.

    [link]      
  42. By rrapier on September 29, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Kit P said:

    “Also, when did you ever profess any sort of sympathy or concern over the massive numbers of people displaced from their homes in Japan as a result of the nuclear accident? ”

     

    That is because I am a liberal not a bleeding heart liberal.

     


     

    Yet if natural gas had displaced all of those people, we would never hear the end of it from you. As it is, a very large tract of land has been rendered uninhabitable, and Fukushima is now one of the most radioactive places on earth. The reason we haven’t heard any of this from you is that it has nothing to do with natural gas.

    Furthermore, as an American in the nuclear industry I am not sure that I should feel guilty any more that he does about what happened to refineries in Japan. It doe not appear that RR was even concerned enough to find out.

    You have such a tendancy to jump to conclusions that I really don’t know how you function in your job. I knew what happened to the refineries, and it was so minor that it didn’t warrant much discussion. A few of them shut down, and there was little damage. This is the same reason we didn’t spend time talking about other nuclear plants in Japan that shut down safely and didn’t suffer a loss of containment.

    I can tell you what didn’t happen with the refineries. 10′s of thousands of people didn’t have to be evacuated. If I spent all of my time telling people how safe refineries were and yet one of them permanently displaced thousands of people from their homes — yeah I probably would feel a little sheepish.

    RR

    [link]      
  43. By JavelinaTex on September 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Generally like your comments and agree with you Robert, but I think there is one critical item that hasn’t been mentioned:

    Conventional pollution (i.e. SO2 & Particulate Matter) controls on Coal Plants will make global warming from coal even worse. Overall, the cooling pollutants will be removed, leaving the warming pollutants (CO2 and what NOx remains). Yes, NOx reduction will have some reduction effect, but overall, I suspect the net will be to increase warming.

    Of course some of this seems ridiculous; PM, NOx, SO2 not to mention Hg and other toxins are far greater immediate threats to human health than Global Warming. We will be burning coal in the world for a very long period of time, the conventional threats to human, plant and animal health are the much greater issue.

    [link]      
  44. By Kit P on September 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    “NOx reduction will have some reduction effect ”

     

    Tex NOx is a high temperature product of burning nitrogen in air during the combustion and is not a ghg. Nitrous oxide is one of the most powerful ghg is produced by microbial decay of organic waste. When waste biomass is used is used for fuel large amounts of ghg are avoided.

     

    Most environmental pollutants are natural. There is not rule that says we can not manage some aspect of nature to reduce pollution.

    [link]      
  45. By biocrude on September 30, 2011 at 12:54 am

    When Agendas Trump Facts

    I feel completely let down, I thought this article was about Donald Trump.  :)

     

     

    @ Kit P, seriously, you want to really argue that coal is hunky dory for humans to exist around coal power plants?  Don’t think I am some “watermelon” from California and don’t know that we are 50% dependent on coal power right now in the US, and that it is on-demand energy.  But really, air emissions aside, I want to know if you would drink a glass of coal slurry water?  

    Yes or no?  

     

     

     

    [link]      
  46. By tennie davis on September 30, 2011 at 4:37 am

    @ biocrude,would you drink a glass of biodiesel?
    How about a glass of rinse water from cleaning my solar panels;)
    Funny thing is, when you go to the emergency room for drinking many toxic drugs or chemicals, they give you a glass of activated charcoal .
    They must be trying to kill ya!

    [link]      
  47. By Kit P on September 30, 2011 at 8:32 am

    “@ Kit P, seriously, you want to really argue that coal is hunky dory for humans to exist around coal power plants? ”

     

    Many people do! When I lived in Michigan I lived near the Consumers Power Plant near Erie. I had a sailboat with my own dock and pool. I never noticed any soot. When I moved back to California, a criteria for where I lived was above the valley smog. I had to work in it but my children did not have to breathe that air everyday. I kept my sailboat just south of Candlestick Park. The ‘soot’ from the Bayshore freeway would build up everyday. If you want scary check what is in tire and road wear.

     

    “But really, air emissions aside, I want to know if you would drink a glass of coal slurry water?”

     

    Sure why not! Admiral Rickover drank reactor coolant during a congressional hearing. Personal I prefer tap water, beer or wine. You are aware that ethanol is a known carcinogen and toxic. Too many teenagers and college students die every from ethanol poising every year.

     

    The point being I am not going to base what I do on the ignorance of others.

     

    “Don’t think I am some “watermelon” from California ”

     

    What ‘recreation drugs’ do you use? Seriously! I one my experiences in California was being confronted by a group of school teachers in a social setting. They were worried because laborer was found positive for pot and the press made it out like control room operators were stoned. After addressing their concern, I asked if their school had a fitness for duty program. Why would they? What if a child has a seizure on the playground? Being sober would help. Knowing first aid and CPR would be nice. Apparently in the group of ‘worried about children’ I was the only one prepared for real life emergencies. I knew that some of the teachers had joint custody. So I asked them what would happen if they got caught using ‘recreation drugs’.

     

    So yeas biocrude you sound like”watermelon” from California. I have a big problem with ‘environmentalist’ who never make the effort to learn how to protect the environment. I am concerned about the environment, so I check how my utility uses coal. They are doing a good job. So biocrude I know everyday that you are bombarded with nonsense. So the next time someone in California tells you about the evils of coal, ask them how they know. If sound like gossip it is.

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  48. By ChemEng NY on September 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Robert,

    Great article. I have tried to engage in reasonable and respectful dialog on the Climate Progress blog and have run into the same censorship issues. There is nothing resembling “dialog” on that site – it is a preacher and his choir and they have all the answers. As a scientist and engineer, I am on-board with the scientific consensus on global warming – so I am “on their side” but when you start talking about realistic and practical aspects of getting to a better place with energy – the insanity begins – and the labels and insults come out. I think such extremism will hurt their cause and turn off the great majority of the world that is in the middle – including engineers who have to make it work.

    So I don’t go on Climate Progress very often anymore as a result.

    Keep up the good work. I respect your objectivity and reliance on facts and scientific analysis.

    Regards,

    Chuck

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  49. By rrapier on September 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    ChemEng NY said:

    As a scientist and engineer, I am on-board with the scientific consensus on global warming – so I am “on their side” but when you start talking about realistic and practical aspects of getting to a better place with energy – the insanity begins – and the labels and insults come out. I think such extremism will hurt their cause and turn off the great majority of the world that is in the middle – including engineers who have to make it work.


     

    Hi Chuck,

    What you wrote there would be a very apt description of my own position as well. And I absolutely agree that the extremism is out of place in a scientific discussion.

    I am writing the chapter on global warming for my book right now. My approach is to explain to people why both sides believe what they do. What we too often see is one side shouting down the other side or arguing against straw man positions, but I think it’s important to understand why people believe the things they believe.

    RR

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  50. By JavelinaTex on September 30, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    KitP: Tex NOx is a high temperature product of burning nitrogen in air during the combustion and is not a ghg.

    Kit, I stand corrected; I had thought I had seen NO2 was a GHG but I was in error; it is N2O.

    Still, my larger point remains: As around the world generators remove PM & SOx the cooling aspect of these pollutants will go away and the CO2 will remain (until CC&S which I doubt will be done on any meaningful scale).

    Yours does, too – in a sense – Yes many pollutants also occur naturally Methane, SOx & PM from volcanoes (not to mention CO2); VOCs from deciduous trees. But clearly there are real limits on what we can prevent or would want to prevent (the joke about Reagan wanting to chop down trees to prevent pollution)

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  51. By Walt on October 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    JavelinaTex said:

    JavelinaTex said: Being new to this board I may have made a mistake in how the board works.  Hopefully this will be saved.

    I think the NYTimes article likely stretches the truth in aspects of the story.  I pulled up the data I subscribe to on the DNR page.I can get the graph they showed a graph which by the title appears to be flared gas. Which shows about 150-160 MMcfd.  The article said about 100 MMdf/d was flared.  and the Asterisk in the title indicated it was the delta between produced and sales gas an implied some may have been used in gas plants.  I can get to the 100 MMscf/d number (using an average historical percentage delta). Essentially, it would appear massive flaring is a farily recent development (not saying it isn’t uncommon) – I am saying the scale. 

    Also, the point is that pipelines and processing plants are not in place.  And generally these will not be built until producers prove up reserves.  Plants are being built. Pipelines are being built.  But it is a moving target. Since most of this is in very new territory the first wells in a lease and an area are not going to be connected immediately. NDak has rules that govern when it can be flared (until production stabilizes in the first 90 days, then they must cut back oil production to specified maximums and then they must pay royalties and severence taxes on the flared production – in other words a market price would be imupted.

     

    Producers and Midstream companies are builiding pipelines and plants.  Alliance pipeline just announced a 100 MMscf/d lateral to take wet gas to into their line which flows Chicago for liquids extraction and residue sales.  Plans are in the works to take the Ethane to crackers in Alberta.

     

    The Electric Generation idea makes even less sense as if there are not gas lines, there usually are not power lines, either. Especially of the power capacity that would be requried to carry it away.  And generally it is far more expensive to move electricity than it is Natural Gas.

     

    Yes, I think it is sad that gas is being flared, but remember that is lost revenue and not just on the residue but the NGLs (Propane, Butane and Natural Gasoline; and in the long run Ethane, too).  Most producers are talking 7 or so wells per lease.  So while the first one might be flared in an area for a while, the follow on wells will not, once the producers are donfidnet in the viability; and they will not drill additional wells unless they are confident in the viability.

     


    It sounds like you work in North Dakota.  Are you with an operator, or government, or lobby, or a consultant?

     

    I have purchased the entire database of current flared wells, and some go back 30 years in North Dakota.  Are you saying that flaring in ND will be only temporary until they get the wells connected to pipelines?  I talked to an operator from Texas recently and he has two wells flaring that he told me will never be connected as it is in an area that cannot support pipeline development due to the location.  He is the exception, but here is a list of 3 questions I have for you.

     

    1) I spoke with an operator in Texas who told me he negotiated almost 2 years with a midstream company until they gave him the price he demanded for the gas.  It is rich gas and he was not going to agree to terms unless he got what he wanted.  I know people are selling rich gas for about $7.00 (while some want $9.00 per mmbtu).  What prices do you see operators getting for their associated gas?

     

    2) Here is the regs.  Can you show me where they must cut back production?  I have the database, and we have looked at these wells in great detail modeling many fields and I do not see production being cut after 90 days.  In fact, I see it not being cut after 12 months.

    -Flaring in ND is regulated by the ND Oil & Gas Division https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/

    -Link to rules (Section 38-08-06.4. bottom of page 18) https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/rules/rulebook.pdf  

    Another document of interest outline the DMR flaring regulation: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/newsletter/winter09/PDF/So%20why_gas%20flares.pdf

    3) Is this the current tax you pay in ND on flared gas, or are you exempt, if you flare the gas and don’t sell it?

    From: http://www.nd.gov/tax/misc/faq…..index.html

     

    Q: What is the current severance tax rate for oil and gas produced in North Dakota?

    A: The gross production tax rate on gas is subject to a price index change on July 1 each year, the rate through June 30, 2011 is $.0914 per mcf.
    The gross production tax rate on oil is 5% of the gross value and the
    oil extraction tax rate is 6.5% of the gross value; 4% if the well
    qualifies for a reduced rate; 2% from qualifying wells in the Bakken
    formation; and 0% if the well qualifies for an exemption.

     

    That is all for now.  With your answers I have just a couple more if you don’t mind.  If you work for a lobby in ND which is very strong, I will have some more specific questions on the theory that flaring is required temporarily until all the pipelines are built to central processing.

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  52. By JavelinaTex on September 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    JavelinaTex said: Being new to this board I may have made a mistake in how the board works.  Hopefully this will be saved.

    I think the NYTimes article likely stretches the truth in aspects of the story.  I pulled up the data I subscribe to on the DNR page.I can get the graph they showed a graph which by the title appears to be flared gas. Which shows about 150-160 MMcfd.  The article said about 100 MMdf/d was flared.  and the Asterisk in the title indicated it was the delta between produced and sales gas an implied some may have been used in gas plants.  I can get to the 100 MMscf/d number (using an average historical percentage delta). Essentially, it would appear massive flaring is a farily recent development (not saying it isn’t uncommon) – I am saying the scale. 

    Also, the point is that pipelines and processing plants are not in place.  And generally these will not be built until producers prove up reserves.  Plants are being built. Pipelines are being built.  But it is a moving target. Since most of this is in very new territory the first wells in a lease and an area are not going to be connected immediately. NDak has rules that govern when it can be flared (until production stabilizes in the first 90 days, then they must cut back oil production to specified maximums and then they must pay royalties and severence taxes on the flared production – in other words a market price would be imupted.

     

    Producers and Midstream companies are builiding pipelines and plants.  Alliance pipeline just announced a 100 MMscf/d lateral to take wet gas to into their line which flows Chicago for liquids extraction and residue sales.  Plans are in the works to take the Ethane to crackers in Alberta.

     

    The Electric Generation idea makes even less sense as if there are not gas lines, there usually are not power lines, either. Especially of the power capacity that would be requried to carry it away.  And generally it is far more expensive to move electricity than it is Natural Gas.

     

    Yes, I think it is sad that gas is being flared, but remember that is lost revenue and not just on the residue but the NGLs (Propane, Butane and Natural Gasoline; and in the long run Ethane, too).  Most producers are talking 7 or so wells per lease.  So while the first one might be flared in an area for a while, the follow on wells will not, once the producers are donfidnet in the viability; and they will not drill additional wells unless they are confident in the viability.

     


     

    [link]      
  53. By Kit P on September 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    “But clearly there are real limits on what we can prevent or would want to prevent (the joke about Reagan wanting to chop down trees to prevent pollution) ”

     

    Well tex you sound like you understand the science. Do we really want to prevent AGW? If you study what the climate was like in North America from 100,000 years ago to 20,000 years; it could be suggested that a little warming is better than a little cooling.

     

    In any case, what we know about the natural sources and sinks of ghg is limited to WAG. We only have theories about why climate varies for the last billion years or so. . I am just a little skeptical of scientist who claim to have found the holy grail for something other than obtaining grant money. Nothing wrong with learning more about the planet but is does not imply insight to producing energy.

     

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  54. By russ on October 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Kit P said:

    “This will be Kit’s cue to tell us that mercury is natural, and that there is no proof that it is harming anyone. ”

    That is because Walt did not provide any evidence that eating fish from the Great Lakes will cause harm. Mercury is natural we all have mercury in our bodies therefore from Walt’s link:

    “Mercury pollution is a widespread health risk.

     


     

    I still think you should have an ignore button Robert.

    Reading foolishness and stupidity from Kit is a bit of a turnoff – no different than Rate Crimes

    In another thread Kit pointed out the pollution from coal plants – in that case it supported the case he wanted to make.

     

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