New York Progressive Geniuses Express Their Views On Energy Policy

On my "About" page, I have this to say about the New York progressive's view of appropriate energy policy: [U]sage of energy is a human right, but all actual known methods of producing energy are environmentally unacceptable.  That mentality was on full display in an article in yesterday's New York Times by Lisa Foderaro, headlined "Concerns Over Pipeline Project at Indian Point."     

It seems that a company called Spectra Energy is in the process of expanding and enlarging a pipeline that carries natural gas across the Hudson River about 25 miles north of the New York City line.  That would mean that the pipeline hits the eastern shore of the Hudson right at the site of the Indian Point nuclear power plant -- a facility that itself provides about 25% of the electricity for New York City.  Needless to say, the combination of a greatly increased flow of "fracked" gas from parts west, together with the very existence of a nuclear plant in close proximity to the City (25 miles from the City line makes it about 40 miles from the main business district) has thrown the New York environmental activist community into a tizzy.

[A] construction project — the planned expansion of a natural gas pipeline across Indian Point property — is . . . putting the power plant in a harsh glare. Elected officials, residents and environmental activists have criticized the project, saying that a rupture of the pipeline could unleash a nuclear catastrophe.    

Of course the companies that own the power plant and the pipeline have attempted to allay concerns, such as by moving the pipeline several hundred feet farther from the power plant than the previous version.  But how far do you think those things are going with the activists?

Environmental activists from New York City and Westchester County are not mollified by those precautions. . . .  In recent months, activists have turned up the intensity of their protests against the pipeline expansion. Members of faith organizations and environmental groups held a vigil on Saturday outside the house in Mount Kisco, N.Y., that [Governor] Cuomo shares with his girlfriend, Sandra Lee. . . .  Activists have also held rallies and engaged in acts of civil disobedience. In November, nine people joined hands and blocked a road near a site where some of Spectra Energy’s construction equipment and vehicles were stored in Montrose, a hamlet in the town of Cortlandt, not far from Indian Point.    

So let's have a review of what sources of energy might be available, and which of those are acceptable to the environmental activist community.  First, here is information from the U.S. Energy Information Agency on New York energy consumption by type of fuel in 2013.  In round numbers, hydrocarbons of various sorts accounted for about 75% (natural gas, about 39%; oil and gasoline, about 34%; and coal, about 2%); nuclear was about 13%; hydro (largely Niagara Falls) about 7%; "biomass," about 3.5%; and all other "renewables," about 1.5%.

Hydrocarbons (coal, oil, natural gas)?  No way!  It's not just that the activists are protesting this one pipeline for passing too close to a nuclear plant.  Of course they are against all hydrocarbons always and everywhere because of Global Warming.  It's an endless war of attrition.  Foderero interviews one Patrick Robbins of something called the "Sane Energy Project":

Patrick Robbins, co-director of Sane Energy Project, . . .  contends that continued resistance to the pipeline project, despite the fact that it has the needed approvals, was not fruitless. Indeed, he and others are focused on the larger war against fossil fuels, more than any one battle.  “Every day you stop construction, it hurts their timetable,” he said, referring to Spectra Energy. “And it sends a message to other companies, investors and political officials that the landscape has changed on building these pipelines, and that it’s not going to be an easy fight for them.”

Well, that knocks out about three-quarters of current energy supplies.  Surely, then, nuclear must be OK?  Of course not!  Indeed, the article points out that the activists have gotten Governor Cuomo on board with a demand to deny new licenses to the Indian Point plants and force their closure:

Mr. Cuomo has been vociferous in his demand that federal regulators not relicense Indian Point. (The reactors’ licenses expired in 2013 and 2015, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now considering their renewal.)

We've now declared 88% of our current supply to be unacceptable.  How about the biggest remaining piece, which is hydro (at about 7% of current supply)?  Forget it!  It's not covered in this article, but you should be aware that the New York Times has been in the forefront of the campaign to remove dams from rivers all over the northeast, so that they can return to their "wild" and "natural" state.  Here is an editorial from 2009 celebrating the removal of dams in Maine as a tremendous victory for the environment.  Doesn't that same logic apply to Niagara Falls?

We're down to biomass, wind and solar.  But isn't biomass just another form of burning carbon, except with lots more impurities (and thus real pollution) than refined hydrocarbons?  Besides, I wonder how many of the environmental activists are prepared to reduce their personal energy consumption by 95 to 98%.  None of them, I would wager.