Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saying No to Energy

By Alan Caruba

While thousands of people in the Midwest pray that their power is restored in order to survive the freezing weather, it took less than 24 hours for the environmentalists of New Jersey to raise their voices against a proposed offshore natural gas terminal.

The Newark, NJ-based Star-Ledger, largest daily in the State, put the story on the front page of its December 12 edition. Exxon Mobil announced it was prepared to invest a billion dollars to provide a new source of fuel, i.e., power and energy, to a region according to the newspaper, “where rising demand and scare supplies have led to spikes in heating and electric bills.”

“New Jersey’s state and federal legislators,” said a December 13 editorial in the Asbury Park Press, “should let the energy company know in no uncertain terms that our offshore is off limits.” The headline on the editorial read, “Say ‘no thanks’ to ExxonMobil.” Need it be said that the editorial offered no alternative answer to the region’s energy needs?

Various environmental organization spokespeople were immediately heard from. “Here’s another bad actor that wants to bring fossil fuels, pollution and industrial development to our cleaner, healthier ocean. Who’s next, Darth Vader”,” said Cynthia A. Zipf of Clean Ocean Action.” I suspect that Ms. Zipf is unaware of the vast numbers of undersea volcanoes that exist, all of which spew all manner of “pollution” into the oceans of the world. Then, too, untapped, existing oil reserves leak crude oil.

Andrew Mencinsky, executive director of Surfers’ Environmental Alliance, called the project “an ecological disaster waiting to happen—one that could be triggered by an accident or a terrorist attack.”

Yes, right. Terrible things could happen, might happen, or may happen. In fact, accidents do happen. While acting with reasonable caution, we don’t live our lives based on what the Greens call “the precautionary principle”, the belief that any possibility of a problem is sufficient reason to not proceed with any project. Were that the case we would never get behind the wheel of our car because auto accidents kill about 40,000 Americans every year.

Once passed the usual environmental scare-mongering, the Star-Ledger article reported that, “Industry experts note during the past 40 years, LNG (liquid natural gas) ships have delivered more than 45,000 cargoes worldwide without a tank failure.”

The facility that Exxon Mobil proposes to build would be so far out in the Atlantic it would not be seen from the shore. Contrast this with various proposed wind farms that would not only destroy the view of the ocean, but also provide infinitely less actual power and energy than the natural gas facility would. Environmentally, wind farms are bird Cuisinarts, killing them by the thousands every year.

The irony of the initial environmental protests is that, as the Star-Ledger article noted, liquid natural gas, “is viewed by many, including some environmentalists, as a cleaner and potentially cheaper alternative for generating electricity.”

Since the legislators that represent New Jersey in Congress are all Greener than Green, we can pretty much assume that they will oppose the LNG terminal. They are on record as not wanting any exploration of their part of the continental shelf to discover and extract any oil or natural gas. What they think the growing population of the northeast and the nation will use for energy or where we will get it remains one of those great mysteries, but be assured one or all of them will demand that the U.S. become “energy independent.”

If the Exxon Mobil project is approved, a Rutgers University study, undertaken by the Blaustein School of Planning and Public Policy, concludes that it would generate about $3 billion in economic activity over the course of its lifetime.

A state that boasts the highest property taxes, one of the highest sales taxes, and more people leaving than arriving or staying, probably shouldn’t be taking advice on billion-dollar investments from environmentalists and newspaper editorial writers.

No comments: