Author Archive

Green Machine: Producer of Nothing, Haters of Everything

The Green Movement claims that their opinions are both informed and based on scientific evidence.

In order to have a leg to stand on, this is their only play. They must claim that their positions have data in their corner, otherwise they bring nothing to the table worth heeding.

Scientific data is king.

While Greens call for the O&G Industry to adhere to the most stringent policies that they can imagine, their agenda is not ultimately in favor of regulatory policies that enable companies to explore, stimulate wells and produce. Their agenda is one that calls for the end of the existence of O&G by convincing the population that Oil and Gas are growing increasingly irrelevant and that their utilization is environmentally irresponsible.

The proof behind this statement looks like criticisms and regulations that are constantly in flux and that their criticisms seek to encompass every single phase of O&G development.

They have problems with the chemical/water/sand solution that is injected into the ground for fracturing. They complain about the contents of the flow-back.  They criticize the methane being vented. They cite the truck traffic going to and from the wells as detrimental to roads and dangerous for travelers. They hate the footprint of well sites and allege that such practices destroy pristine landscapes. They say that the fracturing process causes methane to migrate into the drinking water of residences surrounding the well site. They now report that natural gas isn’t a cleaner burning fuel and that it is unfit for use. They attack plans for pipelines (even though they are the safest and most economical means of transport). They mention greed as the motivator for O&G companies to produce and finally, they hint at conspiracy related to the interaction between the government and these companies.

Name any phase of Oil or Natural Gas development at any level and the Green Movement has a litany of grievances they wear on their shoulder.

Apparently, the O&G Companies are so villainous that they are entirely incapable of doing any good.

Greens are off on an eternal rant and their targets are always changing. They do not show a unified front and they can’t tell you what they want in a way that is feasible. They offer no answer and they produce nothing.

And while they are completely comfortable with being deceptive in that their staunchest supporters have no personal objection to presenting partial or skewed representations (Thank you, Josh Fox for being the poster child.) and their “victims” will not agree with science even after the EPA has 4 separate test results (the Sautners), they don’t have any game plan.

If all that they asked for were granted, they could not produce as economically sound or functional replacement for fossil fuels. They would only offer more criticism and throw more blame that sounds like “We should have never been so dependent on fossil fuels in the first place.”

Make no mistake, a Green Policy would chop thousands of thousands of acres of forest for solar panels and litter the country with the noise pollution of wind farms. On that scale that they support, these methods of energy production (which are, as a rule, inefficient) are untested.

Remember, the Greens are the same folks who supported Natural Gas a few years ago. I wonder what would happen if their wishes were a reality and we all ended up with perpetual headaches from the constant whooshing or turbines.

To distill the basis for their criticism is to understand that their problem is with what they interpret as crimes against the environment and the quality of life of people who live in that environment. As long as energy production doesn’t infringe on either of these things, then they have nothing to say.

But, Wind and Solar would seriously impact the way in which we live. What RFK Jr. calls a desert, another Green Group calls a pristine habitat that they would rather not see become one giant solar panel (Ivanpah). The Green movement has nothing to say because they have everything to say.

I remember, on Twitter a quote from @WaterCitizen from a while back. They said

“…and let’s remember the overall purpose of a debate is to gain clarity on the issues, not to “win”.”

I have debated @WaterCitizen before and they were not willing to concede any point pertaining to actual needs being met by the O&G Industry. The only arena they were willing to speak in was one of risk. That is both cowardly and exactly my point.

Their statement couldn’t be more wrong.

“Winning” in this regard means allowing what is factually based to rule over hazy and inconclusive opinion. “Winning” results in an executive arm that causes concrete results.

By placing the human right to object over the factual basis that data provides, opinion becomes more important than fact and the championing of human feelings (e.g. Say it nicely, even if the person arguing a fallacy is so wrong it is ridiculous.) rises above a policy that effects lots of people in their pocketbooks.

Their method of debate is impossible as they will not stay on one topic long enough to actually follow their suggestion through to the logical end. There is no objective bent.

Thankfully, the facts are gaining traction and the Greens can’t do anything about it.

In the end, after all of their delays and red tape, the O&G Industry will win based on the truths that support their claims. Smoke and mirrors can only last so long. On that day, our Industry will enjoy the victory we’ve won because the truth will out.

Until that time, we have to deal with a bunch of angry emoting activists who refuse to admit that they were both wrong and illogical.

On that final day, I will say nothing. The actions that follow truth will be all the happiness I need.

Categories: Frac

Why It is Appropriate that Dr. Al Armendariz Resigned

In a recent blog post, radical environmentalist Texas Sharon (Sharon Wilson) wrote:

We lost a battle. But remember this is a war, as the industry declared, and we will not lose the war. There will be casualties but we will win in the end because they will continue to follow the recipe. It’s the only way they know.

Concerning “the recipe” imbedded in the link above, it reads like this:

Yesterday, I told you that fracking insurgents are not born they are created. Here is one recipe to create fracking insurgents.

  1. One professional liar.
  2. One heaping scoop of campaign money.
  3. Mix well then sprinkle liberally with stinky, rotten backroom dealings and leave on counter to fester.
  4. Retrieve professional liar from festering mixture and spread thickly about neighborhood. The neighborhood should be thoroughly divided before moving to step five.
  5. Flatten any remaining groups and neighbors and plop festering goo in backyards. (Professional liar can now be moved to new area as starter for next batch of fracking insurgents)
  6. Frack with toxic cocktail
  7. Operate poorly even on Sunday, (see video) aided by inept and conflicted regulatory agencies.

Bake in the hot Texas sun.

Thank you Sharon, for your class.

Dr. Al Armendariz’s comments drew fire as he likened his enforcement philosophy to Roman crucifixion in 2010.

Although the comments have only recently surfaced, critics of Armendariz noted a correlation between his explicit “enforcement philosophy” and the EPA’s actions against Range Resources in Texas.

They’ve argued that his stated philosophy is reflective of his action and that he has indeed attempted to “crucify” Range for the purpose of making an example. They argue that he has sought to force compliance through excessive regulation of innocent parties.

Those who support Armendariz have said that his intention was to make violators the subject of his “crucifixion”; as a motivator to those not in compliance to fall in line. Were that true, EPA Region 6 and Armendariz would have never gone after Range Resources. (The company who TXSharon, Sharon Wilson:extremist environmentalist is still attacking).

Their arguments related to the exoneration of Armendariz are irrelevant as Armendariz’s actions did not support their argument. He did  “go after the first five guys” he saw in a witch hunt fashion. He did act questionably in celebrating his actions against Range Resources by emailing TXSharon and company with advice to “Tivo Channel 8” as a celebration of the “news” they were about to make.

This brings me to the point: It is appropriate that Dr. Al Armendariz resign because he was incapable of performing his duties objectively. Not only did Armendariz flippantly make statements likening his regulatory policies to Roman crucifixion, he went about acting like the Romans in seeking out innocent companies so that he could make and example of or “crucify” them. (as he would say) The EPA or anyone else acting as if this situation is not precisely what it is: namely, a radical environmentalist was appointed to a director level position in a government agency and acted as such. The shame is that there is a refusal to admit the obvious: he should have never been appointed to that post nor should any environmentalist be appointed to such a post.

This, married to the fact that radical environmentalists considered him a friend represents an uncomfortable truth related to the alignment of the EPA as a whole. I say this because the EPA did not call for his resignation. Armendariz did that of his own accord. The EPA was comfortable with allowing him to continue to regulate.

The entire situation was absurd because Dr. Al Armendariz is himself an extremist environmentalist and EPA does not see this as a conflict of interests. That is because the EPA is cut from the same cloth.

The bottom line is that it is very good that Armendariz resigned. It shows that the public wants some level of accountability and that there is a level of checks and balances in place for someone who acts ridiculously.

Hopefully, this will be the trend in the future or the EPA will cease to exist.

The EPA as a Roman Soldier:Crucify the O&G Companies!..and FIRE Dr. Al Armendariz

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

In 2010 Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz said

“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement. And I think it was probably a little crude, and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’m going to tell you what I said,…It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer the villages in the Mediterranean — they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years… And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them. There’s a deterrent effect there. And companies that are smart see that. They don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people.”

I think it was probably a little crude as well. As a matter of fact, I think it was a lot of crude as is all prompting to regulate in terms of the most horrific means of execution ever invented by a military dictatorship solely for the purpose of overstating a point which could have easily been expressed by saying “Make the irresponsible organizations pay so that there is no motivation to be lax in their safety practices.”

In a culture where certain words can set off large groups of people into tirades dealing entirely with the insensitivity of expressed comments, a “crucifixion” analogy related to Dr. Armendariz’s “philosophy on enforcement” could not have communicated more clearly.

Dr. Armendariz is a full grown adult. He knows that he is responsible for the words that come out of his mouth and he knows exactly what his overstatement was intended to imply. Fire for effect.

The EPA will do its best to back-pedal from the Mr. Armendariz’s words as did the White House.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles said, “Strong, fair and effective enforcement of the environmental laws passed by Congress is critical to protecting public health and ensuring that all companies, regardless of industry, are playing by the same rules. Enforcement is essential to the effectiveness of our environmental laws, ensuring that public health is protected and that companies that play by the rules are not at a disadvantage,” .

No, they’re not at a disadvantage…unless of course those in positions of power in regulatory government agencies have no qualms about making examples out of O&G companies and no problem with comparing their “fair and effective enforcement” with a strategy that “crucifies” O&G companies similar to the way that Roman Soldiers crucified Turkish villagers for the purpose of forcing them into their brand of compliance. I believe Dr. Armendariz’s words were,

they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

In context, this isn’t the first time that Armendariz has lacked objectivity and a commitment to data. As a matter of fact, I believe Dr. Armendariz relishes in what he believe will be the failings or shortcomings of O&G companies.

To put it bluntly: The White House’s statement, that Dr. Armendariz’s statements were not accurate in a document-able fashion is simply not accurate. The White House often points to the fact that O&G production is at an all time high but it also selectively chooses to present that information. As Industry continues to contend: increased production has happened in spite of this administration, not because of it.

Dr. Armendariz’s position does not allow him to be an environmentalist. I think this is where the failure of the current EPA and this administration is the most evident. Environmental regulators who are environmentalists like Dr. Almendariz lend themselves to emotional actions and statements rather than unbiased response to scientific data.

In this email to TX Sharon (Sharon Wilson, a staunch and out-spoken anti-hydraulic fracturing advocate in Texas) Armendariz says,

Hi Everybody,

We’re about to make a lot of news. The first story has already been printed. There’ll be an official
press release in a few minutes. Also, time to Tivo channel 8. Bug David for more info.–111474704.html

Makes me think about the first time I saw a FLIR camera video years ago on Jeremy’s website
from a Colorado investigation, or when I first appreciated the magnitude of poor fluid
management practices from pictures and video on Sharon’s blog.
Thank you both for helping to educate me on the public’s perspective of these issues. And thank
you all for your continued support and friendship.

Its been a crazy few days.
Best always,


“Also, time to Tivo Channel 8”…in other words “Hey environmentalist friends, you may want to record this! We are about to crucify Range Resources!”

What in the world should an EPA administrator have to do with reporting official EPA rulings to environmentalists outside of the US government?

To add insult to injury, the “crucifixion” of the random “five guys” seems to be reflective of EPA practice. Energy In Depth’s write-up about this correspondence and the Range Resources actions are recorded here.

Armendariz is the poster child for what is wrong with the EPA and through their inaction, the White House. Armendariz was both flippant and arrogant and fully aware of the lack of accountability in which his agency operates.

And although the White House would condemn the Almendariz’s comments, EPA’s method of dealing with water contamination in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania is the documented proof that the White House says is missing.

Based solely on the EPA’s actions and memos, what the White House said is a statement that lacks proof.

According to a memo written by EPA scientist Dr. Doug Beak (on EPA’s dealings with Range Resources)

“[T]his is not conclusive evidence because of the limited data set,”  (p. 271). “The only way now to compare the data would be to make assumptions to fill in data gaps and I don’t believe we have enough experience at this site or data to do this at this time.”

This is not the EPA’s only mistake. They also abandoned their own SOPs in the case in Pavilion, WY and went back and forth on their call concerning Dimock, PA and Cabot’s delivery of water.

The study in Pavilion begged questions partly because EPA could not replicate their results.

If the White House is willing to argue that the position of the EPA is not one wherein the agency looks to make examples out of industry and that they stand behind practices where faulty science is acceptable, what message does that send to those in Industry? What message does it send to the public.

I disagree with the White House. Dr. Armendariz’s apology is not sufficient. An apology married with the actions of the EPA does not make up for what is a glaring communication of their poor method. There is no guarantee that, by his apology, that his “philosophy of enforcement”, as he called it, has changed in the least. His enforcement practices are actually proven by the EPA’s reckless press releases and actions.

Fire Dr. Al Armendariz.

It’s the only chance region 6 (a 5 state region) has of allowing scientific data to determine policy.


Categories: Frac

Banning Exports Could Hinder Investments: Jack Gerard API

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Banning Exports Could Hinder Investments

By Jack Gerard

President and CEO, American Petroleum Institute

Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that exporting American natural gas will boost the U.S. economy because “exporting natural gas means wealth comes into the United States.” The secretary’s is a welcome voice of reason at a time when we are hearing increasing calls from policy makers to outlaw all exports of U.S. oil, petroleum products and natural gas.

We understand the frustration among lawmakers and others who feel they must do something – anything – to ease their constituents’ pain at the pump. However, gasoline prices are determined by the price of crude oil, and that price is set in the world market. Banning exports would do little to help U.S. consumers, in the short run. And, in the long run, it could do the opposite by discouraging investment in new exploration and production, potentially leading to fewer domestic supplies.

American producers export their products– whether it’s wheat, corn, steel, ethanol or diesel and natural gas – because the supply for those products in this country outstrips the demand and they find more demand for their products elsewhere. It is the basis for world trade, without which the United States and every other country would be just like North Korea – isolated and impoverished.

One fact that is overlooked is that most of the refined products we export are diesel, waxes, oils, coke, asphalt and other products that are relatively in low demand in this country. Looking specifically at gasoline and gasoline blendstocks (components used to produce finished gasoline), we have to make one thing clear: the United States remains a net importer of gasoline. Yes, we do export some gasoline, mainly to Mexico, Brazil and other rapidly expanding Latin American economies. But overall, even as U.S. refiners produced record amounts of gasoline last year, we import more than we export.

So, the question then is, why export at all?

It’s simply a matter of economics.

A slower economy has meant that U.S. businesses and consumers have been using less gasoline. In addition, Americans are driving less and they’re driving more fuel-efficient cars – and there has also been an increase in the use of biofuels, which has reduced demand for gasoline.

However, most of the nation’s refinery capacity is located along the Gulf coast, which means that there’s more than enough gasoline to meet that region’s demand, but the same is not necessarily the same in the Northeast. So the issue is how best to economically transport gasoline into the Northeast. Current pipeline capacity is not sufficient to handle enough additional gasoline, so new pipelines would have to be built, or the fuel would have to be shipped via tanker. Either way, consumers could end up paying more. In fact, historically, it has often been cheaper for the consumer to import gasoline from Europe into Northeast markets, and that is exactly what is happening.

But what about that extra gasoline that Gulf coast refiners have? Well, often the most economical solution is to ship it to markets in Latin America. It’s a win-win-win situation for all: Northeastern consumers may get less-expensive fuel, Gulf coast refiners are able to sell all the gasoline they produce – and consumers in these other countries purchase U.S.-made gasoline, providing income back to U.S. refineries and improving the nation’s trade balance.

One other point that must be made is that most U.S. refineries are going through a period of relatively low earnings. So low, in fact, that U.S. government figures show that, as a group, refiners actually lost money in November and December of last year. Forbidding refiners from exporting their products could do real harm to their ability to remain in business and could put in jeopardy thousands of jobs.

And we can’t ignore what discouraging investments would do to future domestic supplies. It would reverse the recent trend towards energy self-sufficiency and jeopardize our energy security by once again putting us at the mercy of producers in unstable regions of the world.

As our economy struggles to reach full recovery, and as we move further along the path to greater energy security, America must look beyond political expediency. The last thing we need is isolationist policies that would harm consumers, hurt producers and cost us jobs and tax revenue.


Categories: Frac

Natural Gas Glut: Shame on US

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

It wasn’t long ago that the United States realized that it had a huge problem: the amount of natural gas we used for utilities was too large for our production numbers to shoulder. We couldn’t produce enough Natural Gas to meet a growing demand so we were looking at importing natural gas at record high prices.

Prices trended upward long before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast. At the time before the storms, natural gas demand rose because of economical growth and the increase of electricity produced using natural gas.

2005 marked a rise in costs that made us sweat. Futures’ prices had risen from $6.00 per MMBtu to $9.00 per MMBtu. An increase of 50% was realized before August of the same year. Following the storms, which, in effect locked up GOM production, prices rose an additional 65%, eventually rising to the point where $6.00 per MMbtu reached $16.00 for the same volume in the same year. (The MMBtu equivalent to mcf is 1 MMBtu=0.9649 mcf…the equivalent price was $15.44 per mcf).

The equivalent would be if gasoline prices went from $3.90 in 2012 to $5.85 by August before rising to $15.56 per gallon, all in the same year.

According to this report from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), we were scrambling. Part of FERC’s strategy included approving “applications for a substantial expansion of the Nation’s LNG terminals for overseas gas.”

We geared up for imports at sky high costs because there was no alternative that could effectively meet the demand. Such was the price of power and growth. According to FERC, natural gas prices had been “spiky” by nature and the upward sweeping trend was expected to grow throughout the winter when gas usage increased.

The prospect for natural gas and its relationship with the United States was terrible because we needed it as a supplier of power. Natural gas use seemed to be going the same path as oil: increased imports to feed our growing energy needs at high cost to the US.

Then, something unexpected and extraordinary happened: We learned that the fear associated with our growing need to import natural gas was for naught.

We discovered the equivalent of “two Saudi Arabia’s worth of natural gas” beneath our feet. We saw that there would be no need to import all of the expensive foreign fuel. We’d be enabled to produce all of the natural gas we needed and much, much more. Almost overnight, we had a method to extract massive quantities of natural gas. Instead of importing natural gas, we’d be capable of exporting out of the abundance of our native supply.

This meant energy, cheap energy. Our production caused our natural gas prices to be among the lowest on this earth.

So, we started producing natural gas in record volumes. Productions numbers repeatedly surpassed geological estimations. Natural gas became the largest contributor to the total primary energy (TPE) in the United States virtually overnight.

The industry specific growth created tens of thousands of new, high paying jobs; this amidst the devastating recession that came home to roost as a result of the housing bubble in 2008. Despite this recession, the natural gas industry continued to thrive. We were going to be able to meet our increasing demand for power and create new money when the economy was on the ropes.

All of this was the result of Hydraulic Fracturing. Things were looking great. We had a great answer to our great need and now, for the first time, we were more than capable of satisfying our growing need for cheap power. This was phenomenal news. The natural gas industry was a bright spot in a dismal world.

Then a film called GasLand came out showing flaming tap water and residents whose lives appeared to have been destroyed by water contamination. The NYT ran an entire series of stories penned by yellow journalist Ian Urbina. The press jumped on board a destructive train and began to malign the industry. They said we took advantage of land owners with our fast talking land men. They said we lacked accountability for our lax safety practices and that we were the environmental titan hell bent on profiteering at the cost of mother earth and her residents.

The EPA (a government agency) joined in and began its quest; not to neutrally assess the risks associated with Hydraulic Fracturing but to prove that Hydraulic Fracturing contaminated groundwater.

The industry was forced into a corner and stuck in a defensive posture.

Then BP spilled a bunch of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and natural gas producers were lumped in with the rest of the O&G industry. Our public persona was tainted even worse than it had been previously. Obama declared a moratorium in the GOM and the bar for penalty was set far too high.

The wonderful potential of natural gas was lost in the mire and the press and our government was to blame.

Instead of developing new ways to utilize this resource, create more jobs, lower fuel prices, and save money, we’ve instead chosen to ignore the potential of our resource.

Now, in 2012, natural gas prices have dipped to an ten year low. It is becoming financial suicide to continue producing natural gas. This is a hard pill to swallow considering that oil wells contribute to the glut by producing natural gas as well as oil.  We have so much natural gas that we are plugging wells, moving equipment off of production sites, and curbing our production.

Demand for power has never been higher, nor has the supply of natural gas.

Instead of creating outlets for this abundance, we are choosing to spend $3.907 per gallon for regular, $4.046 for mid-grade, $4.178 for premium, $4.147 for diesel, and $3.338 for E85.

We currently pay $4.13 per mcf of natural gas.

The equivalent of 1000 cubic feet to US liquid gallons is (1)mcf=7480.519 US liquid gallons.

7480.519 gallons of regular gasoline (at $3.90) costs $29,174.02.

7480.519 gallons of diesel (at $4.14) costs $ 30,969.34.

1000 cubic feet of natural gas costs $5.45.

Instead of changing the infrastructure to supply fleet vehicles and long range truck with fueling stations, we are sticking with gasoline and diesel. We are using coal fired power plants instead of a much cleaner fuel source. We keep investing billions in failing solar and wind companies. We pay farmers to grow corn to create a corrosive fuel in ethanol that destroys the engines in which it fires by gathering moisture and melting seals and rings.

We should not have a glut of natural gas.

With all of the need for power, we should be using this resource to meet that need. The economic benefits are tremendous.

A glut of natural gas is a tragedy. We have the means to provide the kind of power we’ve always dreamed of. Our desperate needs are capable of being met with our own resources and rather than using them, we are moving in a direction of forgetting they exist.

Shame on us.

Other countries like Japan and Spain hold natural gas so dear that they are willing to pay $18.00 per mcf. Rather than exporting this resource, (because we’ve refused to use it) we’re doing nothing pending more environmental impact studies. The nearest export facility could potentially come online no earlier than 2015 pending FERC’s approval.

Shame on us. Shame on the US.

Ethanol, Wind, Solar: Green Energy that Burns Green

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Science Fairs are funny.

Between the rows and rows of insulated foam core tri-fold backboards stand students proudly perched in front of their respective science projects, awaiting the appraisal of the slowly pacing judges; many of them teachers, with baited breath. Undoubtedly, among the throng of young pupils, stands one of two projects that seem a requirement for each and every science fair held worldwide.

The first has absolutely nothing to do with the second and neither of them have anything to do with winning a science fair. They are the guaranteed “last placers” but they’ll gain the credit needed for the grade for those reluctant participants.

They’re known in lofty scientific circles as:

1.) “The Volcano”

2.) “Electricity from a Lemon” (some of those deprived of citrus fruits will do the same project with a potato; they will not however, avoid scurvy)

The volcano project is simply a volcano project.

Its requirements are simple. It must resemble a volcano more than a pimple and it must spray or bubble something from the mouth/vent/caldera and that liquid must not blast the judge(s). The method is irrelevant as long as there is a mound of brownish/greyish/blackish/mountain-ish rock or clay with a hole in the pinnacle of the finger-printed cone through which synthetic magma turned lava spews. Some over-achievers are creative and paint streams of orange and red down the sides of the volcano. They use food coloring, they make messes that stain. There is another school of thought that lends itself to utilizing the chemical reaction found in the mystery of that sweet cold relief known to old-schoolers by the jingle: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, Oh! What a relief it is!” Alka-Seltzer. There has never been a more simple volcano than an Alka-Seltzer volcano. Bury half a cup into a blob of brown clay, pour a little water into the cup and throw that white fizzy disk into the water and watch a jacuzzi happen. This doesn’t go over well with the judges because of how utterly simple and lazy it is. There is a large problem with all of the presenters though (no, not the fact that their parents actually do most of the work) and it is quite plain: a volcano is a volcano and people can’t simulate it in any way that does that spectacle justice. Television broadcasting destroyed an imagined comparison. When molten rocks erupt from the earth with cataclysmic force spewing up-swirled dust and ash and liquid death, there is no reproduction for it in any setting, let alone a child’s science fair. This project fails unless someone loses an eye and torches the gym, then it would probably result in an expulsion with a consolation arrest.

2.) Electricity from a lemon is another standard project. Two inches of gloriously shiny copper wire, two inches of a steel paper clip, straightened of course, and also stabbing fruit. Roll the lemon on the table, impale the posts into the lemon near one another, side by side and place a human tongue on the electrodes. The slight tingle one feels in their tongue is .7 volts of electricity. It’s the citrus equivalent to Frankenstein without all of the lightning and Igor.

This lemon battery is actually a voltaic battery, or a battery that converts chemical energy into electrical energy.  Substances that contain free ions (which makes a substance electrically conductive) like acids are the reason the battery works. The copper and paperclip play the role of electrodes as the current (or the movement of electrons through a conductor) flows from the negative to the positive terminal. The tongue closes the circuitous track.

Unlocking the electrical current present in citrus fruits is something that any first grader can do for fun as most science textbooks include this or the synergistic (multiple lemon power) version of this project in the pages for children to learn about electricity.

It’s not really a bad idea. Lemon Energy.

The possibilities are endless, in theory.

Lemons are a renewable resource.

They are, from a baby-sized lemon, the simplest of voltaic batteries. This means less moving parts; all that’s needed is come copper wire and some steel or zinc and the electrons will do what electrons do: create a current, though small, that can work in concert with other lemons to increase the production. With enough electrolytes (electricity producing solution), America can power more than just football teams in hot weather. Citrus is the answer, it is a good thing here. The Ancient Egyptians figured this out with citric acid and gold. Grab some acidic electrolyte looking to fling a bunch of electrons around and BAM, instant renewable energy.

This is, theoretically, a decent enough idea. So is the perpetual motion machine, turbines that turn because of opposing magnetic fields, and the flux capacitor but the present feasibility of the previously mentioned projects is worthy of ridicule.

Ethanol ringing a bell yet?

There is a lot of innocent corn out there, struck down in its prime for the sole purpose of creating a “Green” alternative to fossil fuels. Turns out, ethanol is one giant bust. The fuel is corrosive so storage an use is a continual problem. It is simply one of the most economically insane ideas ever BUT, at some point the movers and shakers worked into a tizzy and decided that it would be wise and prudent to start mandating its integration into American fuels. Farmers paid more for corn because they were threshing it to make that fuel instead of feeding people. It takes a lot of land to grow enough corn to produce 62.2% of the world’s ethanol fuel, which is exactly what the USA did in 2008.

A lot of people bought into it as pretty little blades of green grass appeared magically betwixt the emblems of major car companies and on the signs at gas stations. Ethanol was well marketed, it still is.

But, it is undeniably impractically demented in the mostly costly of fashions and Americans have little to no say about whether or not they would like to pump it into their engines. In some states, there is no requirement to include it’s usage in fuel sources; even though using 10% ethanol blended fuel will invalidate some warranties on engines because ethanol is hygroscopic. This means that ethanol attracts and holds water molecules from the surrounding environment. Ethanol is also quite corrosive. An excellent solvent, ethanol dissolves rubber, fiberglass, and plastic. Ethanol doesn’t have much of a shelf life and its price is going up. Farmers are paying more for fuel that comprises 10-85% of gasoline mixtures at the cost of harvesting crops for the purposes of food. This drives the prices for food up.

There is a trend in green energy that looks a lot like this: “Green Energy” is referred to as such because it burns money to operate.

Solar Companies burn money and go Bankrupt; Wind Turbines have exorbitant maintenance costs and terrible power production. The UK learned this the hard way.

Green folks condemn fossil fuels but they fail to provide energy solutions that involves light after dark or cool air in the summer. A solution to fossil fuels is the only thing we need out of anyone willing to have that conversation. Unless there is a realistic alternative that can successfully step up to the plate and shoulder the same workload, the conversation should be irrelevant.

Instead, the United States government has decided to mandate increased inclusion of ethanol, solar, and wind power with total disregard to the simple fact that powering a country based on solar, wind, and ethanol would require all the land in the US to be covered with solar panels, wind turbines, and planted fields whose crops are distilled into fuel.

Until technology progresses to the point wherein these power sources are improved toward practicality (ethanol) or evolve to be capable of creating and storing enough power to make sense (wind and solar), the US needs to stop burning their much needed money on failed project after failed project. Commerce depends on fossil fuels. Trains and big rigs cannot run on batteries.

Businesses that repeatedly invest poorly, betting on losing horses tend to go out of business before long. When the commitment to losing horses continues long after the onlookers know the score, one can only wonder about the intentions of the CEO of the business and whether or not he would like to see it succeed. So, what can one assume about a similar enterprise when the business is the government and its energy policies and the CEO is the commander in chief?

Failure begets failure and not one company on earth can perpetually operate from the red. With a growing glut of natural gas in the United States and the faulty science used to detract from its benefits falling short, it is time for our policies to enable the citizens to make money rather than penalizing the successful by allocating money that provides no current benefits.

Believe it. Green Energy is a waste of time and money. Prove that it can do more work, invent systems that make that possible without siphoning government monies before crashing (what happens to all those tax dollars when government backed companies go bankrupt?) and then this is a conversation worth having. Live in the real world.

The Problem with the “Press”, the New Orleans Saint’s “Bountygate”, and Energy Policies

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Contrary to popular belief, that isn’t a quote from the Bible nor did Shakespeare write that sentence. That’s an Edward Bulward-Lytton quote from his 1839 play, Richielieu;  if you know anything about the historical Cardinal, you know why I still believe it.

I’ve recently understood the importance of language and its misuses in the press (namely the lack of accountability for one’s writing), when I began studying how Fossil Fuel opponents write about the industry and more broadly, the current school of press behind the desks.

Policy Wonk Steve Everley said,

“Apparently it’s okay to (falsely) accuse the industry of not being transparent, even while hiding crucial details of opposition studies.”

Everley nailed the problem with that mighty pen. It seems that the press has a selective tolerance. They aren’t lying “per se”, they just exaggerate certain claims at the expense of being transparent.  As long as the ratings go up, the public is buying.

They have become word salesmen, headline jockeys, conjurers of cheap tricks with lots of flash powder and little substance; they are like newsboys from the pre-Pulitzer/Hearst Newsboy strike of 1899 screaming “Man Found Floating in Oyster Bay! Authorities Suspect Fowl Play!”

In this hypothetical, say the patron rushed to the newsboy to buy the paper, only to find out that the man floating in Oyster Bay was a chicken farmer. I hope you caught the homophone/heterograph.

So, did that headline sell papers? Yep.

Was it true? Sure, just not the way he said it.

Did the buyer get to read the news he thought he paid for? Nope. The newsboy already had his penny.

I aim to draw attention to the use of language because it is how the press writes that costs us the straight truth. When we buy into all of the overstatement at the expense of the facts, we are stuck holding an armful of junk news and we stop asking about the truth, it’s just not sensational. We stopped chasing down the newsboy who sold us the junk because the writers realized that this inflated strategy worked, so, now, they write the junk. Time after time, we still give them our penny.

The conundrum here is that the press creates the news now, it’s not the other way around.

As Edward Hirsch said in How to Read a Poem,

Language is an impure medium. Speech is public property and words are the soiled products, not of nature, but of society, which circulates and uses them for a thousand different ends.

A great example of this point is the current “Bounty-Gate Scandal” associated with the New Orleans Saints and how the press chose to handle that “scandal”. A parallel to how the press is handling Hydraulic Fracturing.

The power of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell,  and how the press have chosen to cover this story is the real story.

Think about it, Goodell just effectively fined one man (Sean Payton) $7.5 million dollars (that may be the largest fine in the history of sports on earth), suspended a head coach for an entire season (which has never been done in the modern NFL), suspended GM Micky Loomis for eight games without pay, the Assistant Coach Joe Vitt for six games without pay, fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000, penalized the team two second-round draft picks for the upcoming season and the next, and the NFL hasn’t yet handed down the player penalties. They suspended Gregg Williams indefinitely.

The same press that rallied behind the Saints in 2009 because of their Phoenix-esque rise from the ashes following Katrina, the same press that praised the defense’s aggression for their ability to create turnovers (for which they were second in the league), refuse to speak about the Saints without the word Bounty attached to their name.

That one word encapsulates the entire problem similar to the way O&G detractor’s use of “toxic cocktail” and the unprecedented actions levied against the Saints are similar to the moratorium imposed in the Gulf.

Bounty is the hook, Bounty is the heavy. Bounty is a heck of a lot more interesting than “non contract bonuses”, which is the official language used in the NFL Constitution.

Bounty is the word that maligns the Saints by judging their intent, a strategic use of language which calls to memory “Wanted” posters from the old West where vigilantes would take men dead or alive or take scalps for a cash reward. That one word changes the way analysts report: that the Saints’ desire wasn’t to tackle, but to injure.

Why use the word? Why add a underlying reference to Watergate?

Add Bounty+Gate and it’s a scandal. Remember, there was no scandal during the 2009 season; we all watched the same games. Scandals sell papers.

In 2009, the Saints were still America’s team, and America’s Team, the NFL’s Cinderella, won the big dance. The press was writing about Natural Gas as a cleaner bridge fuel three years ago too.

Jabari Greer said it well in an interview with Rich Gannon on Sirius radio:  “they are judging our intent”.

Bounty creates a false reality. The question: “Was there or was there not a Bounty program in place?” forces the persons who answer to agree with the Bounty terminology.

Greer refused. Players like Jabari and our industry are guilty until proven innocent because of the press.

The Press who’ve covered the Saints, like those who enjoy the benefits that O&G provide while protesting its use, have chosen to forget crucial details to prove a point. They criticize both organizations for failing to disclose information when they routinely do the same thing and or fail in the investigation. That’s what is known as a “double standard”.

The NFL commissioner missed this (another similarity to those who protest O&G) and created glaring problems.

By penalizing the Saints in this fashion, the NFL has completely undermined the function of their officials because the officials did not eject players for hits during the 2009 season while the games were actually being played. They didn’t believe the Saint’s defense was doing anything out of the ordinary at the time; if they did, they called those penalties and the NFL fined the players. It is the official’s job to enforce the rules created by the NFL on the field. They are well trained and well paid to do so. They are the primary means of enforcement, the ones who actually “write the tickets” and “make the arrests” on the ground level. These new penalties come in addition to the fines already meted out by the NFL.

I can’t help but think about the EPA and how it undermines the authority of state organizations in places like Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Did Lisa Jackson mean that she trusts the states to do the regulating? As of now, the EPA, like the NFL, has repeatedly undermined those who are doing their jobs by giving their vote of no confidence.

As NBC Sports reported,

In each of the 2009-2011 seasons, the Saints were one of the top five teams in the league in roughing the passer penalties. In 2009 and 2011, the Saints were also in the top five teams in unnecessary roughness penalties; in 2010, the Saints ranked sixth in the category. In the January 16, 2010 divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saints defensive players were assessed $15,000 in fines for fouls committed against opposing players. The following week, in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saints defensive players were assessed $30,000 in fines for four separate illegal hits, several of which were directed against quarterback Brett Favre.

This means that the Saints were playing physical but they were not the only team to do so. It also means that the league already assessed their play and fined them as they felt was appropriate. What does this mean for the other 4-5 teams that, as of yet, haven’t been charged with illegal activity?, the teams that outranked the Saints in unnecessary roughness penalties?

Nothing, so far.

At the very least, it means that without additional incentives, there were teams with higher instances of roughness penalties who were playing nasty defense for the sole purpose of playing nasty. Which is worse?

The officials did call penalties on players like Haynesworth, Harrison, and Suh for acting with the intent to cause injury. These men acted in a way where it was a cut and dry case.

Haynesworth kicked a man without a helmet in the face, Suh stomped on a lineman for allegedly untying his cleats, Harrison clearly blasted Colt McCoy, Cleveland’s quarterback with a head shot that caused a concussion.

This is what the NFL wants to be rid of, not aggressive defenses, not defenses who play hard. .

There are bad apples everywhere. There are bad apples in the Oil & Gas Field. This is why state regulators, those on the ground should be responsible for regulating without the larger broader, less informed federal oversight of the EPA, especially when they’ve already proven that they are willing to stand behind reports that undermine their own authority in violating the SOP.

State environmental regulators are the ones who actually see what is going on, in real time. Penalize those who are guilty and non-compliant, not an entire industry with wide-spread bans pushed by ignorant politicians. Don’t institute moratoriums that penalize an entire industry when the platform in question and the company who owns it (BP) were penalized.

Peter King ended his article in Sports Illustrated by proving this point.

Far away from the furor, the object of much of that January 2010 mayhem didn’t seem particularly ruffled. Reached on his 465-acre ranch just west of Hattiesburg, Miss., on Friday, Favre told SI, “Since that game, I haven’t gone a week without someone asking me whether I thought there was a bounty on me that day. Now it’s come out to be true. But it’s football. I’m not going to make a big deal of it.” The commissioner will.

Favre’s statement provides more perspective than any other statement I have read. “But it’s football. I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.” Favre, one of the most decorated football vets in history, a player who through his 20 year football career gained the record for consecutive starts at 297 as a quarterback on the receiving end of the hits knows that this is just a part of the game. He didn’t miss a start in 18 1/2 years, not even when his father died. The man with the most informed opinion about what it feels like to play against a team with incentives for hitting him knows that it is a part of the game. You show me one defensive player who doesn’t strut around after a brutal sack and I will show you 799 who will.

Think about it. “22-27 players”, players who signed contracts allowing themselves to be governed by the NFL, who have played for other teams were the ones who put together the pool. If this was such an anomaly, such a new and evil thing, would all of those players have condoned it? They know what violations of policy look like in terms of fines and penalties. Some players are more than willing to defy the league with preplanned extensive touchdown dances. Something must have made them feel like the league couldn’t possibly view it as harshly as they did. Do you think they, understanding how fragile their stay in the game , would intentionally injure another player for $1500? If they’d wanted to, they could have just done what Haynesworth, Suh, or Harrison did and remove all doubt.

I can imagine Sean Payton or Gregg Williams saying “Are they serious?, everybody does this.” Goodell’s penalty is a response to the press’s rhetoric. Buy that.

Of course the Saints were looking to annihilate players like Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner etc. At that level of play, at that point in the season, being that near to the Big Show, a defense has no desire to allow any player of that caliber a chance to stick around. Hit him fast, hit him hard, hit him often; break his rhythm. Don’t let him get comfortable in the pocket. That’s a pretty sound strategy.

Peter King’s wry response: “The commissioner will.” shows that suits like Goodell and professional writers are out of touch with the essence of the game that the players understand. Football’s essence is violence. It’s why they wear pads and a helmet to work instead of a coat and tie. It’s a risk those who work in the Oil & Gas Field are familiar with as well, that’s why they wear flame retardant clothing.

Players get that messing with the nature of a violent game will do nothing but hurt football culture.

Why does it seem that the NFL’s decision reflects the opinion of the media rather than players like Brett Favre? That’s a mystery in the same vein as the press dismissing O&G experts because they are “on the payroll”. You can’t just discredit those with expertise, expertise that you don’t share, because you disagree with their informed statements.

Speaking of making an example for the purpose of making a statement. Will the Obama administration declare a moratorium that costs billions in lost tax dollars, forces multiple companies and people their livelihoods, each time their is an accident? I wonder if bad apples in the O&G field will be more or less likely to be forthcoming if they know their entire industry will be shut down as a result. The thought is that they will quit practicing lax maintenance policies but bad apples are bad apples. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Like the inherent risk in football, there is an inherent risk in drilling. Nothing is perfect. People will get injured and their will be mistakes. The same can be said for farmers, steel workers, construction workers, and sky divers.

Goodell chose to pounce on the Saints before doing a league-wide investigation. Obama chose to pounce on all O&G GOM platforms before doing the same thing.  They’ve both created a kangaroo court.

The penalties have just decimated the Saints’ chances of having a level playing field with other teams in the NFL. The ramifications of knowing that the deck is stacked against the Saints should have been more thoroughly considered by the NFL. Are the fans wrong for supporting their team?

As for the related energy policy, how can our lack of an Energy Policy, aside from one that fights O&G tooth and nail, create a level playing field for our Capitalist Country. Why is there a push to remove their subsidies, increase their taxes, and cripple them with over regulation? Are O&G employees wrong to be outraged at this penalty? According to Obama, one can side with O&G, or it can side with America.

For a man who makes anywhere from $1-18.5 million a year, what does 10K really mean? I don’t think the NFL is bent about money. They are bent about intent; intent that the press has done a wonderful job of defining for them. With the word Bounty now forever attached to the Saints’ defense, can their intent get a balanced and relative view? Impossible.

Notice how the lack of a fair and balanced review is missing in O&G as well? Thanks to the press, we pump “toxic cocktails” and “poison” directly into the drinking water of innocent people. We irresponsibly shoot oil into the ocean because we don’t care about sea life. We cause earthquakes, destroy the ozone, and melt glaciers. We give people cancer and sucker punch lease holders with cryptic language that comes out of the forked tongued mouths of land men. You think O&G gets a fair shake?

Neither do the Saints. What’s the common factor? The press.

There is an apparent disconnect between our energy policy and our use of fossil fuels. O&G are the lifeblood of the world. Period. Acting like that isn’t true is like saying football shouldn’t be violent.

It doesn’t matter what the Saints do now, Goodell has destroyed their 2012-2013 season and created in them a whipping boy for a strong handed agenda.

So, what does that have to do with Energy Policy?

I believe the parallels are uncanny. Maybe that says something about the idealism of our culture, a culture aloof, like the NFL commissioner with the nature of the NFL. I am at a loss to understand the causal factors. What did the moratorium do to all of the platforms and companies with impeccable safety records?

As a New Orleans native, the Saints’ penalty seems strangely similar to a moratorium enacted on the Gulf of Mexico by the current administration. Instead of costing a few men a football season and millions of dollars, it cost the United States $24 billion in taxes. This is not the only example of penalties enacted that cost money.

All you need to see the commonalities between the two issues is a perusal of popular articles on both. Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell (ironic, no?) recently wrote an article about Chesapeake Energy entitled:

The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom

It’s not only toxic – it’s driven by a right-wing billionaire who profits more from flipping land than drilling for gas.

In which he depicted Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon as the creator of a Ponzi scheme styled company. He even used an energy consultant named Arthur Berman to support his position. Arthur Berman made a statement saying he completely disagrees with Goodell’s conclusion, Jeff’s that is. Jeff went on to bash the industry using the same old arguments used by Ian Urbina in the New York Times, arguments that attack Hydraulic Fracturing for reasons that have already been debunked. He is a year late. It’s in Rolling Stone.

And as for Peter King and his SI article entitled: Way Out of Bounds, I would have expected a man who writes so much about sports to be more willing to look at it a little longer before jumping on the hater bandwagon.

I see so many parallels. Am I just nuts or do I just happen to be one of the most disgusted people on earth.

Goodell and Obama both like to forget that they live in a world wherein attempting to destroy the fabric of a thing makes it a different thing entirely. By the time the two of them are done, we will be watching touch football while driving by a windmill in an electric car.

I think the problem is the press and the people who chose to believe that how they paint a portrait is the gospel truth.

It’s the presses fault for dirtying the reputation of the Saints and O&G on a global scale. The men with the power believed the hype and acted in a manner that is completely over the top.

Now that’s “earth shattering.”