Monday, September 19, 2011

Jason Lewis tilts at windmills

It's not the worst thing he ever wrote, Mitch

You can buy a suit
just like Jason's at
But perhaps it's among the funniest things he ever wrote. Because on Sunday, he dons an eagle suit to play environmentalist and shed crocodile tears (don't bother to write) about the birds killed -- including the avatar for our nation, the bald eagle -- by windmills.

On the next breath, Jason pens this:
Meanwhile, hope for a more-sensible energy future remains hostage to a few activists who get their talking points from movies like "Gasland" (environmentalists used to love natural gas until they realized you had to drill for it). Hydraulic fracturing, known pejoratively as "fracking," has the potential to dramatically alter America's economic landscape by lowering the costs of domestic energy poduction [sic, but that maybe the way Jason spelled it in the edit-free environment in the Strib editorial department].
Followed by this:
The Rand Corp. (a nonprofit research organization) says there are 800 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil -- three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia -- in the United States alone. Remarkably, "if the full potential of domestic oil and gas production could be achieved while also increasing imports from Canadian oil, all of America's liquid fuels could come from secure North American sources within 15 years," notes the American Petroleum Institute [not a nonprofit research organization] in a study released last week.

One key component of fracture drilling is silica sand, ubiquitous in the sandstone bluffs throughout southeastern Minnesota. That's why another Texas company, Windsor Permian, wants to start constructing sand mines and transportation facilities in and around Red Wing for its operations in the lucrative Permian basin. And it plans to do it with no "renewable energy credits" or state CBED tariffs.
So if you're following this, Jason stands foresquare with the eagles but thinks it's fine to mine and frack away! He moans about the noise and vibration of the windmills (!) but doesn't mention the noisy mechanical hell of excavating equipment and the fleet of dump trucks to haul the stuff away.

And as to fracking itself, it is becoming ever more apparent that it is environmentally risky.

Here's a bit from an op-ed in a Hudson Valley (NY) newspaper:
THE matter [of the safety of fracking] deserves an honest, scientific look, which, quite simply, it has never gotten thanks to an extraordinary exemption from federal regulation that the practice received in 2005 [gee, who was the president then, or the vice president, for that matter?].

The New York Times has dug into the matter and found that many scientists and regulators increasingly have questioned the environmental safety of hydrofracking.

Potential environmental harm includes the use of known carcinogens in fluids injected into wells, the creation of wastewater that is often inadequately treated, and the discharge of radioactive wastewater into surface waters, some of which are sources of municipal drinking water.
Some of you have probably seen the news reports of residents near fracking operations who can set the water piped into their homes afire, too. Neat!

The flat-out amazing part about all of this is that Jason almost (?) certainly doesn't get a nickel for his oil-world propaganda.

It is regrettable that birds are killed by windmills, and we ought to do what we can to mitigate that. Birds are killed by tall buildings too, but Jason's not advocating pulling them down. People are killed by the thousand by cars, but Jason isn't saying we should go back to horse-drawn wagons.

If you look around, I am sure you can find conservatives just like Jason who have said about, say, nuclear power, that all energy production entails some risk, and that's true.

But when you look at the health, environmental, and climate change risks of hydrocarbons and compare it favorably to wind energy, well then, you're a fool in an eagle suit.

Update: Science Lags as Health Problems Emerge near Gas Fields:

Pro Publica photo

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