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A View from the Altar / Energy briefs
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Energy briefs

Computerizing retail juice

Titanic excitement over so-called “smart” electric meters is continuing despite the iceberg.  The ostensible reason for the power industry shifting to smart meters is to allow consumers to better control their power usage.  However, everyone should remember the Stick Theorem, “If a stick has one end, then it has another end.”

The other end of the smart meter “stick” is third party control over individual power use.  The third party will be the power company, or the government, or the cyber-jihadis who hacks into the system via osama.net from a cave in Pakistan.  In this case, two out of three is bad.

No, I’m not an electrical Luddite.  It’s just that between the government’s hubris and the terrorists’ malice, they end up about equally trustworthy when it comes to managing the power delivery system for Americans.  People slip past America’s security systems every day.  See “Alien, Illegal,” and “Bomber, Panty.”  The people who brought you the TSA are going to be in charge of protecting the most important energy asset the country has, the power grid.  Feel better now?

There are two corollaries to the Stick Theorem:  First, an adversary may grab the other end of the stick at any time.  Second, if the adversary gets a good grip on his end of the stick, he may snatch it out of your hands beat you with it.  Smart meters: new technology bringing you risks never heard of before.

Back room deals and proud of it

I’ve been warning that once ObamaCare® was locked in, an anti-American axis of hard left Democrats and RINOs would attempt a hostile take-over of the energy industry.  And so it is coming to pass.  Published reports are describing meetings between John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and others to pass some kind of energy legislation based on the global warming hoax. 

The hoax is a political zombie.  It won’t stay dead because it’s the only semi-plausible political rationale for what the left wants to do.  Only it’s not even semi-plausible.  By now, everyone knows global warming is a hoax.  And everyone knows that everyone else knows it’s a hoax.  Yet the hoaxers slog onward like Pizarro and Balboa hacking their way across Panama.  Federal energy policy follows them like smallpox.

Now, don’t ever forget this next political lesson as long as you live: When Americans could read the various ObamaCare® bills and call their representatives about them, the bills failed every time.  Only when Democrats concealed the bill from public view did ObamaCare® finally pass. 

Congressional Democrats lusting for political control of energy will almost certainly do this again.  So never mind all that noise about the public trust, C-SPAN, five-day legislative waiting periods, or Democrat campaign promises about openness.  All that matters to them is the end game which is a totalitarian government gained one piece at a time.

Since the Obama administration began, they’ve taken over banks, certain aspects of mortgage lending, student loans, General Motors, Chrysler, and the medical industry.  Energy is their next Sudetenland.  They will likely hide their intentions with a bill that cannot be reviewed by the public, then pounce when the moment seems right.

Thus we read of Mr. Kerry saying, “You don’t want paper [i.e., written legislation] before you’re locked in with affected parties. It’s actually destructive. Counterproductive. We’re making enormous progress on all fronts, and we’ll have paper out at the right moment.” 

So Kerry will hide in the bushes before opening his raincoat.  The deals, the bribes, the buying and selling are all being done now, out of public view.  Once the bribes and corruption are clouded with various forms of legislative squid ink to cover their real agenda, there’ll be another Democrat two-minute offense to ram it through before anybody can read it. 

So why the back room deals?  Two answers.  First, every previous form of energy legislation has been a massive job-killer that drew outcries and protests from every affected constituency that knew about it.  If you think ObamaCare® is bad, like Bachman-Turner said, you ain’t seen n-n-n-nothin’ yet.  Second, if your goal is a hostile takeover of the biggest and most powerful industrial sector in the Western world, namely the entire energy business, then stealth and tactical surprise are essential.

Enviro Wermacht going after gas industry

As I noted some time ago concerning the gas industry’s breakthrough improvements in extraction technology, the environmentalists are foreordained to try and obstruct it.  For those not familiar with this subject, in the past few years, the gas industry has invented a technique for fracturing gas-bearing rock deep underground.  The technique is known in the industry as “fraccing,” a term you wouldn’t normally encounter on a preacher’s blog, but hey, that’s their word and not mine.  By fraccing the rocks, gas fields that previously released gas far too slowly to be commercially viable are suddenly now producing enormous quantities of natural gas.

Wherever the creative lions of American industry succeed, the Democrats’ legions of daffy green hyenas are sure to follow.  Thus Congressman Maurice Hinchey of New York is demanding that the technological secrets of fraccing be publicly revealed supposedly for environmental review.  Obviously this would give away valuable trade secrets to foreign competitors, and the hard-won technological advantage forged by American gas companies would be lost.

If your goal is to financially ruin America by punishing innovation and piercing a key energy producer through the liver, this is exactly what you’d do.  Natural gas may be the only sector of the energy industry right now where reserves are up, production is up, and prices are down across the board.  America’s enemies oppose that.  (And yes, I meant it that way.)

CCS – Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Industry is being pressured to capture all the carbon dioxide given off by burning coal and bury it underground.  The most attention is being focused on doing this to power plant exhaust, though other industries such as steel making would be affected.  The general idea is to compress the CO2 to what’s called a “supercritical” state, then pump it underground.  Supercritical means the fluid has properties of both a liquid and a gas.  It’s dense like a liquid and thus stores a lot in a small space, but it flows easily through sandstone pores like a gas.

One problem with CCS is that it makes power plants inefficient.  Since each plant consumes more of its own electricity for CO2 compression, less is available for the grid, so it takes more plants to meet the demands of the grid.  Second, plants are burning more to get the same energy delivered to the customer, and the customer has to pay for the extra fuel.

CCS has some sobering public safety issues.  A big CO2 leak could be very dangerous.  In areas where volcanism causes releases of CO2, gas “burps” have killed large numbers of people.  CCS installations will feature injection wells where the CO2 is held back only by the injection well piping and check valves.  Should the pipes fail or valves get stuck open, megaton releases of CO2 might be possible.  The resulting CO2 cloud would suffocate everything in its path until it dispersed.  Like the T-rex said on The Robinsons, I’m just not sure how well this plan was thought through.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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