• Home
  • Go
  • RSS
A Word from John Hofmeister
Connect with us!

Archive for the ‘4 mores’ Category

More Infrastructure
Wednesday, April 21, 2010@ 2:54 PM
Author: admin

Energy is produced where it is most efficient to produce it. Most times that means it is a long way from the consumer. While oil, gas and coal can be transported, most people prefer not to live right next door to the production facilities that make, store or distribute the energy that comes from such facilities. The structures that move energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed is called infrastructure. Infrastructure exists in many forms. It includes platforms to drill and produce oil and gas, coal mines, pipelines, rail lines and rail yards, storage tanks, transmission towers and lines, substations, transformers, poles and lines, ethanol distilleries, wind farms, liquefied natural gas re-gasification terminals, hydro-electric dams, nuclear plants, and the so-called “green spaces” that often surround critical infrastructure.

We know how important infrastructure is when it quits working. Whether from a storm, a hurricane, a tornado, an ice storm, a black-out or brown-out, we often don’t think about infrastructure except when it breaks or also when it is proposed to be built near where we live. In recent decades the issues of so-called “nimbyism” (not-in-my-backyard-ism) have made the building and even the maintenance of infrastructure very challenging.

In addition there is something called “legal infrastructure.” Legal infrastructure is the permitting, licensing and pricing systems by which physical infrastructure is built or not, maintained, or updated, or sometimes removed. The terms used in the energy industry are “commissioning”, “re-commissioning”, or “de-commissioning.”

Both physical and legal infrastructure are absolutely essential to a national energy plan and, similar to other critical elements such as supply, technology and environmental Protection, must be founded upon a short, medium and long term outlook and plan.

Much of our traditional hydrocarbon infrastructure is aging. Oil, gas and coal have been around a long time. Its infrastructure needs constant maintenance and sometimes needs to be expanded or replaced. Likewise our 100 plus nuclear plants and numerous hydro-electric dams have been around a long time and may need updating and re-commissioning, or de-commissioning. The future promises many new and exciting alternative sources of energy as well. Each one of the new alternatives requires new and often different infrastructure than what exists today. All new infrastructure needs to be built to bring energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed. As the nation’s economy grows and we continue to adhere to our lifestyles, which consume considerable energy, we must have a plan for infrastructure that conveys supply to meet the demand.

That physical infrastructure only happens if the legal infrastructure lets it. We depend today upon legal rules and regulations which date back sometimes more than 100 years. Most of it at least more than 50 years. We must ask ourselves as citizens two questions: can we allow current infrastructure to be updated and new infrastructure to be built? Can we do so in affordable ways, which means also updating and even revising existing rules and regulations to make it possible.

Everyone knows an example or two of proposed energy infrastructure projects that have been delayed for years or even decades and sometimes projects that have been deferred so long that they have been cancelled. Most often the loss of infrastructure or the failure to license and build infrastructure has led to ever higher energy costs in the area that restricts it. There are many instances of job losses and job opportunities foregone because of the inability to obtain affordable energy due to infrastructure delays.

Citizens for Affordable Energy is prepared to put forth a comprehensive and coherent infrastructure plan that addresses both existing and new infrastructure, both physical and legal, that meets short, medium and long term requirements for carrying energy to where it is needed in consultation with American citizens for political leadership to consider. Citizens have a right to sound, factual information upon which to make rational choices. Citizens for Affordable Energy looks forward to providing such information without ideological fervor or partisan political viewpoints. We hope to play a role to inform future choices in the months and years ahead

  • Share/Bookmark
More Environmental Protection
Wednesday, April 21, 2010@ 2:50 PM
Author: admin

Energy and the environment present ongoing and sustained challenges to producers, transporters and consumers. It has always been the case and will likely remain so. Some forms of energy are produced from the destruction of molecules. Thus there are environmental impact issues to be dealt with. Other forms of energy require infrastructure that impacts the landscape. Still other forms dam rivers or create nuclear waste. As the future unfolds every so-called “clean” or “green” form of energy also has environmental consequences of one form or another.

Citizens for Affordable Energy believes that there are solutions for environmental Protection by establishing a comprehensive, coherent approach that takes into account short, medium and long term issues and concerns as part of a national energy plan. Over many years the U.S. has undertaken a serious effort to manage our physical waste. While not yet perfect, the issues identified during the 20th century are more and more being tackled by community after community. Likewise our society has come a long way towards managing our liquid waste. The times when manufacturers, farmers, households and communities poured liquid wastes directly into streams, rivers or other waterways without treatment are well behind us. While perhaps not perfect yet, our society is much better at managing liquid waste. Now arguably it is time to turn our attention to gaseous wastes, many of which come from energy production and consumption.

Environmental Protection is about protecting and preserving a sustainable future. As citizens we naturally want to protect our atmosphere, earth and water for the future of life on our planet and the quality of life of future generations. All three are finite and we do not want to be the generation that makes our future worse for our descendants than what we received. The debate about Environmental Protection as put forth by Citizens for Affordable Energy is not a debate about climate change or global warming. Citizens for Affordable Energy does not have the capability or resources to be expert at climatology. We leave that to others.

In the same manner that we have largely and affordably mastered physical and liquid waste because we knew it was wrong for the earth, we can manage gaseous waste. No one chooses to put his or her head over the top of a smokestack or at the end of a car’s tailpipe. Emissions of all kinds, from CO2 to volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) to non-organic compounds (NOC’s) are unpleasant if not harmful or even fatal under certain circumstances. Currently such emissions enter a finite atmosphere with limited constraints. We can do better and find affordable ways to do so.

In an average day in the U.S. 10,000 gallons of oil are burned every second. 20 train car loads of coal a minute, or 1200 per hour, are burned mostly to make electricity. 60 billion cubic feet of natural gas are consumed each day. This is enough gas that if the cubic feet were stacked one on top of the other, the stack could go to the moon and back 25 times each day. The point is we produce a lot of CO2 and other emissions. We believe that technology and regulation can go a long way to controlling, reducing and even capturing and storing emissions under the earth in geologically sound ways such that we would never have to worry again about what we bury. But it takes will, cooperation, and wide-spread understanding to build a national plan for gaseous emissions reduction.

We have an opportunity to provide global leadership on this matter, if we choose to take it up. Many will say that other countries should agree to solutions before we unilaterally take action ourselves. It’s a fair debate. But the real point is the U.S. may be the best positioned for global leadership, given that we enjoy the highest per capita production of such emissions, have the world’s largest economy, the most enjoyable life-styles, and the best track record for rule of law in an open democracy.

Citizens for Affordable Energy is prepared to put forth a comprehensive and coherent short, medium and long term plan in consultation with American citizens for political leadership to consider for Environmental Protection in the months and years ahead. Along the way citizens have the right to sound, factual, non-ideological and non-partisan information upon which to make rational choices. We hope to play a role in informing future choices for the nation.

  • Share/Bookmark
More Technology for Efficiency
Wednesday, April 21, 2010@ 2:30 PM
Author: admin

The most affordable energy is the energy we never use. When efficiency in the use of energy means that we use less, we save the costs of what we don’t use. We also defer the availability of that energy to the future. The most effective conservation that we could ever consider is that of adopting efficient technology in all of our devices, homes, vehicles and behavior patterns of energy use. There is essentially no limit to the potential for energy conservation and energy savings through technology and innovation. This can be a never-ending journey that can stimulate the minds and creativity of technologists, scientists, physicists, entrepreneurs, and consumers across the nation and around the world.

Citizens for Affordable Energy promotes increasing the efforts to not only research but also to apply the benefits of research in the applications of energy use throughout society. The range of impact is enormous. How we use our land, plan our cities, organize our communities, schools, transport systems, home and building construction, populate our homes and other buildings with appliances, electronics, lighting, and how we use them for our own purposes are all subjects within the realm of technology for efficiency.

We’re coming off an era of both waste and inefficiency. As we discovered uses for electricity and improvement in life styles from the 19th century and as we discovered the joys and pleasures of mobility through cars, trucks, planes and trains, we also had an abundance of energy to explore everything we wanted to discover. In more recent years the rest of the world has been emulating the U.S. in this process of discovery. As a result there has been a faster growth in demand for energy than in supply of energy. The consequence has been rising prices and growing worries about availability.

Let’s consider some of the more wasteful practices of older energy technology. We can start with the internal combustion engine that propels our cars. It’s been around for a hundred plus years. It is about 20% efficient by design. It means for every $100 of gas we purchase, $20 dollars gives us mobility; $80 is wasted as heat. Now we have seen improvements over the years and automakers keep working on improved miles per gallon. And we will have the ICE with us for decades to come. But technology could change the source of mobility power. Batteries or hydrogen fuel cells hold promise, for example. Another example is the homely incandescent light bulb. It’s been around a long time. It’s served us well. It uses 3% of the energy consumed to give us light. 97% of the energy is wasted as heat. Congress decided in 2007 to phase out certain incandescent light bulbs to be replaced by light emitting diodes (LED’s) or the new low energy fluorescent lamps which can be substituted for incandescent. Double pane vs single pane windows are a basic example in the construction of homes and other buildings that provide significant energy savings. New designs of appliances are more energy efficient. The practical day to day list goes on. The potential is extraordinary, if we choose well.

But what we have lacked is an effort to look at technology and innovation over the short, medium and long term future and to incorporate the possibilities of far-reaching technology efforts as part of a national plan for energy. Citizens for Affordable Energy is prepared to put forth a comprehensive and coherent plan in consultation with American citizens for political leadership to consider. Working closely with universities, research centers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers of products, architects and construction companies, urban and city planners, and the public at large, we believe citizens can benefit from sound, factual information upon which to make rational choices. When it comes to improving the efficient use of energy through technology and innovation, we hope to play a role in informing future choices.

  • Share/Bookmark
More Energy From All Sources
Wednesday, April 21, 2010@ 2:27 PM
Author: admin


U.S. economic growth and our life styles are predicated on available and affordable energy. In recent years we have experienced a relentless rise in all energy prices and we have begun to fear that sufficient energy availability may be in the past. Many people now talk about “peak oil” and “dirty coal” as if these two prolific energy sources of the 20th Century are behind us. They promote wind and solar energy as new sources to replace them.

Unfortunately there is far, far too much mis-information, dis-information and lack of information about energy across the nation. Because we are the beneficiaries of decades of available and affordable energy, we have as a nation operated with a limited understanding of what it takes to supply energy. Our demand for energy has always been met. There have been few situations where we challenge ourselves or seek out new information on what energy means to us and what its environmental impact is, or is not.

Energy companies have not adequately engaged and educated the public about what they do. School systems have chosen to teach students very little about energy. Elected officials only talk about energy when there is a perceived problem. The general public has not been well served by the industry, education and our leaders when it comes to making informed choices about energy.

Since Katrina and Rita, two of seven major hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico during 2005, we have sensed our energy vulnerability. Gustav and Ike in 2008 test our energy security once again. With 2008 also an election year there is talk across the country about the problems and solutions. However many discussions are politically slanted to advantage one candidate or party versus another. Accusation and vilification are abundant; new sources of energy and solutions to lower prices are not.

The truth is there is no shortage of energy resources of any kind in our country. There is more oil available than we have ever consumed; more coal than any other country on earth; the opportunity for clean coal power production has never been better; more natural gas; more opportunity for liquefied natural gas; more oil in U.S. shale than in all of Saudi Arabia; more bio-fuels practically by the month; more solar; more wind; and more potential for hydrogen than ever before. Meanwhile we continue to benefit from robust hydro-power and nuclear energy production and out there in the future are more opportunities for geo-thermal power. The bottom line is the U.S. has ample energy resources for whatever we choose to do in the future.

Our problem is the lack of a comprehensive, holistic and coherent energy strategy for the short, medium and long term future. The nation has lacked a plan for generations. There has been energy legislation in each of 2005, 2006, 2007 and more is proposed for 2008. Yet each of these bills has come about as a result of a divisive, politically abrasiveness process that has diminished the potential outcomes and even contradicted actions taken in a prior bill just a year or two before. The politics of partisan paralysis has dominated energy legislation; the American people are suffering the consequences.

Citizens for Affordable Energy is prepared to put forth a comprehensive and coherent short, medium and long term plan in consultation with American citizens for political leadership to consider. In the coming months and years information will be disseminated about the supplies of energy to meet future demand. Supply information will be provided without partisan bias and ideological rhetoric. The pluses and minuses of various types of energy supplies from coal, oil and gas to nuclear, bio-fuels, solar and wind, etc. will be presented in their stark realities and without political preference. Citizens have the right to sound, factual information upon which to make rational choices. We plan to make such information available without overwhelmingly complex technical language, which makes the subject incomprehensible. We hope to play a role in informing future choices.

  • Share/Bookmark

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 67108864 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 998609 bytes) in /home/content/11/9238311/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 251