Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A River of Air and So Much Talk, So Little Action


It’s new model season, and not for just cars. It seems they just had a big wind turbine Expo in Hamburg Germany, which is as intense as a hard-fought hockey game, and it’s a take no prisoners sales effort, Here is one of the new offerings, a 3 MW gearless wind turbines on a 149 meter tall concrete tower with more of a “Low Wind Speed Turbine” design (bigger blades, taller tower). This is the new fangled E-115 from Enercon, complete with “split blades” that are assembled into their full 56 meter (184 feet) length on site from two, much easier to transport parts, and now available in most places of the word EXCEPT for China and the US. From http://www.enercon.de/p/downloads/WB_03-2014_en_web.pdf

And just in time to tap the windy season, too. And isn’t stuff like that just what the 400,000 protestors at the NY City Climate March would find to be just fine and then some…

It’s now October and in the Northeast part of the US, this means we are now in the windy season. Average winds in the October to March period tend to average close to 40% more than windy than in the April to September period. And when you convert that to the power in the wind, that’s over 2.7 times as much power in the windy season that can be made as there is in warmer period of the year. The river of air that circulates around the globe at this latitude (called the geostrophic wind) tends to move from west to east, and it is especially prominent on the US Great Plains and in western Europe on the Atlantic coastline, places where there is minimal friction caused by surface obstacles like trees and mountains to impede the flow of the wind. It happens because air tends to flow from the “subtropical high” centered around 30 latitude towards the sub polar low (centered around the 60 degree latitudes). Of course, being climate and weather related with those associated second order differential equations and stuff, this gets complicated really fast….



But, as the saying goes, make hay while the sun shines, or electricity when the wind blows. Winter is also when its cold, and in a near future, assuming some modicum of civilization evolves out of the wretched combination of Peaking Oil supply rates and criminal “Neos” (neooliberals and neoconservatives, variants on the same sick song) fronts for the ever more rich “neofuedal overlords” stealing (sorry, doing asset appropriation otherwise known as asset stripping) we would take those winter winds and power up ground sourced heat pumps to keep what passes for winter at bay, and us warm. But that takes investments, and for those parts of NY State where that would be appropriate (around 5 million houses and a million small businesses), that could easily run $100 to $150 billion dollars over a decade to a generation, depending upon our degree of motivation.

So what’s the big deal? The world is just awash in money, so much so that interest rates in Europe are going negative, while in the US rates from the Fed to its “faves” are still approximately zero. And what about the $16 TRILLION that the Fed just created out of thin air (well, cyberspace, or its own imagination, a nifty magic trick if there ever was one) to bail us out of the disaster that a bunch of big time fraudsters (such as all the senior management and/or owners of big banks, big brokers and big hedge funds, for starts) (http://informthepundits.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/16-trillion-in-secret-bailouts/) got us into while at the same time extracting many huge fortunes in the form of "fees for services rendered? And then there is that great sleight of hand called “Quantitative Easing” (QE) where more money gets pumped into banks profits and inflates the values of assets (and guess which economic class has lots of assets?) - see http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/11/ilargi-qe-the-people-and-the-damage-done.html. Where will that money get re-invested? Or does it just get snorted up in a major party only the arrogantly rich can attend.A grand bash if there ever was one? Can’t some spare coins from the biggest bail-out to the rich EVER eventually make its way out of the Wall Street Casino and into something that would make the world a better place by swapping depleting and polluting fossil fuels now used to keep us warm for renewables that don’t deplete, don’t pollute much and are affordable? And by the way, where did that $16 trillion go to, anyway? Wasn’t it supposed to not only plug some gaping holes in the balance sheets of major financial entities and rich people who were in reality less than broke at the time while simultaneously providing the hordes of little people with bobs and maybe reduced future energy addition? 


Or, as Emily Litella (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Litella) used to say, “Never mind…”. That lines about the $16 trillion probably goes up on the big board of tall Tales like “Violins of TV” or “conserving natural racehorses”… Anyway, looks like the vast majority of this country (alias “the little people”) are tapped out, and the likelihood of them signing up for another session of abuse due to debt servitude is somewhere between slim and none, or maybe even less than none. So may all that money conjured up because the super rich were in super trouble will just go poof, though there will no doubt be a lot of lovely Lamborghinis to show for it for example, going “topless” could run a cool $5.3 million for a Veneo sports car with more male appendage substitution power than you can possibly imagine… (http://www.gizmag.com/most-expensive-lamborghini-veneno/29464/):


Anyway, with “Never Mind” soothing us past that big example of the US Memory Hole, there are those naysayers still wondering where our electricity comes from if the winds stop blowing (at some given spot - and the answer is from another spot, or from something like the big water battery (pumped hydro electrical energy storage). Or what about in the summer, when its not so windy? Of course, you tend not to need heat in the summer - instead, air conditioning, and more of it as Global Warming closes in for the kill. And that’s a nifty thing about ground sourced heat pumps, because they can provide the same quantity of cooling for 25% of the electricity as an air to air heat exchanger. The reason is similar to the way the wind flows - from high pressure to low pressure. heat flows from high temperature to lower temperatures, and in NY State the first 15 feet of ground (a volumes of only 131 cubic miles or so) works as a great heat sink. It’s average temperature tends to be around 50 F, and if you are trying to dump heat from an enclosed space that is 75 F, why, heat rolls downhill really easy. But if it is 85 F outside and you try to push that heat from a 75 F place, that will cost you lots of electricity.

So summers, which until recently were the big peak demand for electricity in NY don’t have to be that way. But they will be as long as we keep the heating and cooling in its present really primitive state of affairs (as in fossil fuels for the most part). So in the meantime, cue the siren song of crackers who want to peddle some methane while the stuff is still affordable but if more people keep using it to make electricity that should be made via the breezes, well, maybe it might even be profitable, too. It seems most fracked wells that only make methane also make lots of never ending debt (the kind that won’t be paid off from sale of the product) and fraud opportunities, and only a few of those methane wells are ever profitable. After all, gas sure is easy to turn into electricity, and while it have have all kinds of pollution and Global; Warming grief associated withy it, it sure can convey the image of “clean”. Ditto for what it can do to addicted customers when price spikes start happening again, as in “clean out the bank accounts…

But electricity and where to get it without pollution and at a reasonable price is a problem easily solved in NY State, though money creation on SOMEBODY’s behalf is certainly required to do that, since rich people and their investment funds have shown no inclination to do so at the scale required for both a sane climate and a decent bout of job creation/wealth creation, the kind that lots of people could share in. What about something tough, like fuel for the supremely fuel inefficient though supremely aerodynamic car? After all, no fuel, no driving, and not a lot of action will be forthcoming from the $5.3 million investment unless it gets some fuel.

Well, that electricity scene is a walk in the park on a nice pleasant day compared to NY’s liquid fuels problems. In effect we are the Blanch DuBois of states when it comes to powering up out planes, trains, trucks and especially cars, and those strangers are we depend upon for their kindness are looking stranger and stranger by the day… After all, the organized crime units called ISIS or ISIL would be of no concern in most parts of the world, but that part of the world has most of the world’s remaining low cost and high quality oil reserves. It takes about 42 Bakken fracker oil wells to pump out what one decent Middle East oil well will bound out over its 50 year lifetime (most tracked wells are pumping dregs after 5 years). Or only 60 Iraqi oils can pound out 1 million bbls/day for decades. Those Dakota wells need a price of $100/bbl to justify their existence and those investments…



As that other saying goes, "The Shale Revolution is not all it’s fracked up to be”. Sure, it allows us to put off for a couple years what we have to do anyway, but that gasoline consumption graph says it all. Most Americans have seen their real incomes drop by a few percent since 2000, while other expenses have not gone down but still marched upwards. Despite prices that have been essentially stable since 2010, US liquid fuels consumption is ALSO stagnant. What happens when the price goes up, as it must, to tap tight oil that is of even less quantity and quality than what passes for an oil sweet spot today? After all, gasoline prices are at the point where they are so high and frozen or declining wages are so constraining that even in a slightly expanding economy, gasoline consumption is stagnant to declining. So who needs a KXL pipeline, anyway? Certainly not the US of A....

Oh, but that car is such a sweet thing, and no doubt, it can get the attention of other “sweet things” for the owner of that epitome of consumption. Won’t somebody feed it some fuel - heck, even booze will do (actually, it would work better because ethanol can handle a 25:1 compression ratio, versus around 9 for gasoline)? Because if you can afford the car, fuel at any price is probably not much of an issue. It’s also a car that says “who cares about anyone else” better than just about anything else, and it does it with such style…. As such, it really is a sign of the times. No doubt, coming to a rich person enclave really soon, where keeping up with the other asset extractors is always a never ending task….

Saturday, September 20, 2014

(Natural) Gas Warfare - Another Great Diversion


In honor of the efforts of those in the big Climate March this weekend (http://peoplesclimate.org/march/) and the almost sure to follow disappointment, betrayal, co-optation as well as the derision and depression that is surely to come afterwards to those brave participants, how about a nice picture of something that can remake the future, one turbine at a time? And we wish you the best of luck in your efforts - we hope you at least make it onto the evening news on Sunday. Picture from http://www.vestas.com/en/media/images.aspx#!turbines of a German array when winter was still possible…

As for that wind turbine, it is the one thing that really puts fear and anger into those pushing natural gas as the temporary answer to so many of our energy problems (as in, the perceived lack thereof of Ngas). They really don’t care much about PV’s - in their minds, money spent on PVs is just less money for wind turbines - even though they may not be happy about them. After all, for every million dollars expended in the US for PVs, on average only 292 MW-hr of electricity will get made in a year (at $4.5 million per MW of PV capacity, 15% average efficiency - see https://openpv.nrel.gov). That will (on average) displace the combustion of about 2.375 million standard cubic feet of natural gas (methane) in a year (42% average thermal efficiency), with a bulk value of about $9144/yr at the present gas price of $3.85/kcf. In NY State those PV’s will only make 214 MW-hr/yr - not as much sun gets through the clouds around here, so a megabucks worth of installed PVs only displaces $6706/yr worth of methane at present prices in NY State.

That same $1 million would produce 1753 MW-hr/yr (40% efficiency, $2 million per MW of capacity installed) - though the minimum size that makes sense is now around 1.7 MW capacity these days. So that commercial turbine will displace 6 times as much natural gas for the same $1 million in much of the country, or 8.2 times as much Ngas in NY State (almost $55.000/yr worth of methane). Now, if you are in the business of trying to sell as much methane as you can as fast as you can either because it could soon get really pricey (and then wind sourced electricity becomes cheaper than gas sourced electricity) or it might be forced by bad economics or (unlikely) good climate policy to stay put in the ground, you might not oppose PV so much, because you will certainly sell a lot more Ngas (at least for electricity production) if people choose to install PV’s instead of wind turbines. So if you had a trace of strategic planning capability and were of the conniving sort, you would not really oppose PV installations too much, but instead you would put all your efforts into blocking wind turbines, because you could sell more Ngas in North America that way in the next decade while supplies still exist which can be extracted at prices that undercut wind turbines. In other words, PVs are pretty good for the gas biz, because money spent on them means money NOT spent on commercial scale wind turbines in today’s zero sum arrangement.

But aside from causing Global Warming and a big mess when fracking is employed to get it out of the ground, methane can also lead to all kinds of financial fraud and actual warfare over the huge piles of money to be raked in from selling mass quantities of it. And for a lot of people in places where actual winters exist, at present, methane extracted from underground deposits is what both keeps people warm and keeps the electricity grid functional, supplying considerable amounts of the electricity of many countries, such as the US, Canada and Great Britain.

There are four present big conflicts in the world where one of the central causes or major factors of these wars is natural gas, and in particular, how to get the methane from the gas field to paying customers. These are in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine, though that potential also exists in Algeria, Eurasian former Soviet Republics (FSU), Iraq, Iran, offshore of the eastern Mediterranean Sea (Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Syria) due to the Leviathan field discovery in some deep waters, and a burgeoning spat between China and Japan over disputed oceanic reserves. And it turns out that ONE cure for these social and mental diseases (wars, psuedo-wars, spats) is commercial scale wind turbines, so there also is the war ON wind turbines which has Global Warming as its “minor” consequence. And that is sort of a war on anyone or any living critter on the planet. But since they don’t vote and don’t have money (a bird or a bacteria just has no use for the finer things in life….), they have no say in these issues. And since lots of money is involved, we get to involve the taproot of evil, a combination of money, greed, money lust, nationalism, historical gripes of epoch proportions, power over others, dominance, submission, gambling, epic corruption, religion, fear of starvation, fear of thirst, and fear of not having they money that can buy everything from good health to awesome sex to really bad sex, not to mention promulgating genetic code that are of dubious quality from a mental health standpoint. Quite a batch of gumbo  here…, but since the Golden Rule is “those who have the gold make the rules”, well, you know it’s going to get ugly. And then there are those minor conflicts such as in Nigeria, East Timor, Angola, Equatorial Guinea…..

Some particulars on these wars and “conflicts”:
1) Afghanistan has been in play since the 2000 to 9-11-2001 time period, when the Enron Corporation needed a huge flow of gas to go to a 2.2 GW gas to electric plant that they had built in India. Negotiations between the repressive Taliban and US companies such as Unocal and other international entities were being conducted to transmit FSU gas via Afghanistan to both Pakistan and India, especially to the Enron power plant. And the plans still remain, even though the opportunity went up in smoke on 9-11-2001…

2) Libya has gas pipelines that connect its former colonizer, Italy, with gas often derived as a by-product of oil, as well as a a large number of new fields have been located offshore of Libya with BP as the primary player in these (gee what could go wrong…). Before former dictator Qadaffi was removed via a concerted set of activities, Libya was exporting 2 mbd of oil and a 1 bcfd of gas - but with the dictator gone, chaos and jihaists of all sorts (paid by Qatar and others) now reign and jockey for position. Libya still has about 60 billion barrels of high quality oil buried in the ground, and a lot of gas, so a lot of southern Europe’s financial prospects rest on order being restored in that region. And if Italy can’t get that gas from Libya, well, it has to pay more for stuff obtained elsewhere…

3) The Ukraine has gone from being an exporter of gas to the Soviet Union to a “transit country” (the gas fields onshore are mostly tapped out by now). There are several major gas lines that connect Russia’s vast gas supply with central Europe and thus central Europe’s money. In the last 20 years, most of the Ukraine’s income and wealth generation has been in either fees for gas transit (along with a cut of the gas transmitted), agriculture, gas based chemicals and weaponry for Russia. Most of the massive “transit fees” have been stolen by the “oligarchs” in the Ukraine, and now there is little to show for it. The US-European originated coup this spring has degenerated into both a military conflict and a way to massively impoverish EVEN MORE of most of the Ukraine’s people. The vast gas supplies in the Black Sea near Crimea are now forfeited to Russia, and as winter approaches, no money and no gas are going to be a very cruel combination - perhaps crueler than the Ukranian Nazi’s who are consolidating power from the oligarchs who think they can control them. Should things go even worse, a large segment of Europe will have their gas held hostage by the Nazis/oligarchs coalition which hates Russia and is hated by Russia (the Russians just don’t like Nazis after WW2). However, while it is normally money that smooths over things/does the talking, things are now up in the air, and money might not calm these profound disputes. Several million people could starve or freeze this year if some compromise by the oligarchs with Russia and the Europeans is not arrived at soon….

4) Syria’s conflict began shortly after a plan to export gas from Qatar via Saudia Arabia via Syria through Turkey and to Europe was rejected in favor of the Iran-Iraq-Syria plan by Syria’s Baathist Party leadership. The present chaos of ISIS is a “Made in Qatar/Saudia Arabia/USA” mess (check out this most awesome article on ISIS - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html), with all sorts of Sunni extremists waging a mercenary war that may get out of control. It may also turn into a Sunni-Shia bloodbath, where the ancient conflict is settled for once and for all. But it is the ability to transmit massive quantities of methane to Europe that is at the root of this; the religion and other turf wars are just the icing on the cake. Also of interest is the Leviathan gas field that parallels the eastern Mediterranean coast (but is in deep waters) - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_gas_field. While only a mere 25 trillion cubic feet of gas, this IS 2 billion cubic feet per day for over 34 years. And there is enough oil to keep Israel supplied for some time…. and Israel in the intrigue of this battle in Syria. 

In many cases, oil is also involved, as oil and methane often come from the same hydrocarbon deposits. In some cases, the country in question doesn’t even have the gas, but they have a location between where the gas is and where the use that also has money is. This is because methane is somewhat special, as it generally needs pipelines to get it to customers; otherwise very expensive cryogenic liquid methane transportation SYSTEMS need to get purchased and installed. These systems include the liquefaction facility ($5 billion minimum), LNG tankers and LNG storage/gasification units (also $5 billion minimum), and the ability to finance these facilities, too. And then there is the safety aspect - you can’t put LNG facilities in places where really ticked off people are going to use weaponry or other nefariousness to blow these up, or to even threaten to blow them up - explosions that would be like a small nuke going off (but at least no radiation fallout). Pipeline systems (the installed pipe and gas compressors) are cheaper, but there is the issue of trolling. Lots of money is at stake, and lots of people want a cut of the action when all that is needed is the right of transit and not much else. And did corruption get mentioned? Sometimes it’s a fine line between just compensation and shakedown, and isn’t Switzerland a nice place to keep the proceeds? Then there is the issue of banking and how to move all that cash from customer to pipeline troll and supplier… as well as how to finance these deals.

It used to be that the methane that was found when searching for crude oil, or that came along with crude oil, was a real pain - and probably the leading cause of oil wells blowing up. And it still happens - the Macondo well that BP might get dinged for an additional $18 billion blew up because the pressure of the crude (which was about 50 wt% methane). But methane in the form of “natural gas” soon displaced “City Gas” (a mix of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and a some methane) that was made in “Gas Works” by reacting red hot coal with water/steam, and “natural gas” is definitely an improvement on City Gas…. After all, in winter it gets cold in a lot of places in the Northern Hemisphere, and methane can mean the difference between freezing to death and staying warm… Methane can also power up a big part of a manufacturing society, and while cheap energy is cheap, lots of wealth (fairly or unfairly distributed) can be generated. Half of the ammonia (which means a major portion of the protein content in food) used in the world comes from hydrogen made using methane - it’s so much easier to use than coal. For North America and Europe, no ammonia means no food for much of the present population….

By now, most of Europe and North America get most of their residential heating from natural gas, which tends to be anything but clean, but if you have the money for it and have access to it, you can stay warm in the winter. Otherwise, you can use propane or fuel oil, but those tend to be more expensive. And for those in rural regions, wood is often an alternative or a supplement to fossil fuels. One of the more expensive other approaches is electric resistance heating. For those paying 18 c/kw-hr for their delivered electricity (as in a state like NY), this is $53/MBtu (hey, at least it is 100% efficient….). Fuel oil at $4/gal delivered is still around $26/MBtu, and correcting for an 85% efficient furnace, you get $31.40/MBtu. Propane is a bit cheaper, but not that much… Meanwhile, delivered natural gas is around $10/MBtu delivered these days, which translates into $11.76/MBtu once furnace inefficiencies are taken into account. Price data approximately from http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Energy-Data-and-Prices-Planning-and-Policy.aspx

North America is essentially a separate world with respect to natural gas from Asia-Africa-Europe, and is still temporarily in a “gas glut” which is slowly fading away as the big drilling boom of 2006-2009 gets “digested”. Most of the wells recently drilled were based on fracking, most have rapid depletion rates, and since less than 25% of the number of wells drilled per year  for gas is the present drilling rate (versus 2008), this indigestion will soon pass. Most wells now drilled in the US are for fracking based oil, which also makes a lot of methane, but those too will rapidly deplete. However, the price of oil makes such drilling possible, and the by-product methane can add to profits. But in this temporary glut where most gas wells drilled are money losers or certainly not epoch money makers like they are SUPPOSED to be and where huge losses are still getting racked up (see http://srsroccoreport.com/condition-red-fracking-is-destroying-oil-gas-companies-balance-sheets/condition-red-fracking-is-destroying-oil-gas-companies-balance-sheets/), there is no longer much tolerance for lack of profits. Most gas only wells or prospects for wells are no longer “bankable”. The bottom lines are: 

1. Nothing has changed in America….. there’s always another sucker born every minute.
2. Spot price of methane on 9-11-14 was $3.85 per thousand standard cubic feet (kcf = MBtu)

So gas is still pretty cheap, at least in major pipelines. Residential rates… not so much…

But in Europe, where 500 million relatively affluent people live in places that still have actual winters, methane prices are north of $11/MBtu in major pipelines. And while there are some decent methane fields (Netherlands, North Sea) in Europe, most methane used gets imported. That comes by pipeline (Algeria, Libya, Russia) and by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) tanker (Qatar, especially), and while most European countries try real hard to build up big underground stashes (except Great Britain), the stash only goes so far. And then there is India, China and Japan, where methane prices are quite high (Japanese prices are near $17/MBtu), where most imported material arrives via LNG tanker. India and Iran make a natural connection, as do the FSU countries to the north of Afghanistan, but that requires a solution to the potential Iranian nukes issue, a cessation of the Pakistan-India spat and a cessation of Pakistan’s efforts to add Afghanistan to THEIR empire building efforts (via the Taliban-Pakistan security (their CIA-FBI equivalent)). Pipelines require that adjacent countries and customer-suppliers at least be civil to each other and overlook various differences in return for the money made by supplying product or right of way. And while the power of lots of money over long time periods can be great, it can’t do miracles and overcome many severe hatreds (such as the Shia-Sunni or the Muslim-Hindu eternal wars).

The essence of the “methane trade” is to connect customers with money (such as Europeans, Japanese) and natural gas suppliers via pipelines. The supplier and customer are then connected at the hip, so to speak, and it is both of their interests not to rain on the other’s parade. Pipelines are a long term commitment, and the pipelines, compressors and gas/oil fields are a big investment which need to be repaid - such as via steady supplies and reasonably stable prices. LNG systems (tankers, liquefaction, storage/gasification facilities) are an even more massive investment. Much to the dismay of financial speculators, a lot of the gas is sold via long term contracts, especially from Russia. The one area that is NOT connected to either the money stashes in northern Europe or India, China and Japan to any great extent is the Persian Gulf, and the world’s biggest stash of methane is in the southern part of the Persian Gulf. This field is shared by Qatar and Iran (North Dome/South Pars) and it holds close to 1800 trillion standard cubic feet of methane, as well as lots of valuable ethane, propane and butane (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pars_/_North_Dome_Gas-Condensate_field). Production in Iran is now around 18 billion scfd, and in Qatar production is over 23 billion scfd. This filed is amazingly productive, wells are unlikely to go dry for decades, production costs are really cheap, and the combined production (41 bscfd) is similar to that of the entire U.S. (~70 bscfd from 540,000 wells). This field is a license to print money….

But so much of the cost is tied up in compressing an liquifying the methane… if only there were pipelines to connect the monied customers with that methane. And pipelines could easily go to India, Pakistan and China, too…

While the North Dome/South Pars is the world’s biggest gas field, there are a lot of massive fields in Iran, Iraq, and especially Russia, as well as some ex-USSR countries (the “‘Stans”) and Algeria (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_natural_gas_fields). But this gas is useless unless it has paying customers, or else it gets converted into either ammonia or methanol, for which shipping by tanker is easy. In some cases, it can get converted to petroleum (Qatar's Pearl facility) but those are fabulously expensive….. In the meantime, in North America most of the prime gas fields are already tapped out, many of the smaller offshore fields in the Gulf of Mexico are getting tapped out, and so fracking has come to fill the void. But fracking wells don’t last decades (they are generally 90% or more used up in less than 5 years. Having to frack for gas means that you will soon be importing LNG and will be one of many customers competing for the fabulous Persian Gulf supplies of methane.

So those who control the flow of gas to dependent (whether to power industry, make electricity or provide the citizenry with heat) countries have a lot of power…. unless there is competition to the Ngas biz. And so far, a combination of getting more efficient and wind turbines ARE the competition to natural gas, with biomass and solar thermal heating being nice supplements to the wind turbines. Nothing else comes close to filling the void that will be left when the gas supplies start to diminish in terms of rate of supply. At least in places like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and almost all of Europe.

So the race is on - will the easy to get at methane get used up in North America before Climate Sanity becomes a dominant thing? Will this country start tapping its awesome and really low cost to produce wind based electricity, or will that opportunity get royally tubed? Will the same nut jobs who brought us the Iraq War disaster (many are still employed in the US State Department - they are often called “neo-cons”) get us into wars in the Middle East or Ukraine or other “Gas states” such as Kazakistan over methane, or will it be done the old fashioned way - over oil? Time will tell, but gettingg active - no matter how futile it all seems - is what has to be done, no matter how distasteful it seems. Otherwise, no pretty winter pictures of wind turbines, because there won’t be winters with snow to them any more… And while that may sound enticing, it isn’t - think Frankenstorm Sandy, but amped up with a rising ocean level that turns a lot of NY State’s money machine - NY City - into a none too valuable fish farm…

Monday, September 8, 2014

A “What If…..?” Election of Potential Consequence


Somewhere in Ontario spins the cure for the Common Global Warming…. while in NY a Gov spins and spins to the point where he loses sight of the good that could happen while he cavorts with our new Feudal Overlords, such as the WNY branch (The Jacobs family) in pursuit of campaign megabucks. Meanwhile, what passes for a press is also spinning tales of their relevance while they report so little of consequence that even reporting on that scandal loses its relevance, as it is SO boring by now. Hey, maybe if they ask real nice and don't report a word, they too can party with WNY defacto royalists, or is it royalty...?

NY State has a primary election on September 9, 2014 that has the potential to do a lot of good things with regards to economic, social and environmental justice, like no one can really believe. But, this being NY State, just because the potential exists for good, that does not mean that the more twisted and “Dark Side” of life in the form of our present Governor will not triumph. After all, one of the more resounding messages that came from the “Occupy!” happenings was right out of a Star Trek movie - “Resistance is Futile” came the message from the powerful. “Mess with us and just see what happens…”. “Now run along and accept your fates”. “Maybe if you are lucky, you too could join the lucky few in the 1%”. “And quit moping about the crumbs you get, because WE could just as easy take them away, and impose of Republican on you, or worse….”. Yes, all this and more from many of  the Democratic Party machines and it’s statewide standard bearer, Andrew Cuomo.



You know, the dude (our Gov) took in over $80,000 from the Koch Heads, and these guys just about NEVER give money to Democrats. And if you think that money does not come with strings (that are spider web sticky), well, you have not been paying attention to what is referred to as the Kochtapus (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/04/04/207816/kochtopus/). That is a complicated array of interwoven front groups, companies, lobbyists and alliances of the extremely well off who now want to rule the roost in the USA, and they not only have the money to do this, they now have the WILL to do this. Of course, their goal is to achieve their rule by the use of proxies, and they purchase politicians much like they also purchase companies or large swaths of land in Alberta under which a lot of Tar Sand Sludge resides. And if they have to rent or purchase Democrats to do this, well, “ya gotta do what ya gotta do….” It’s such a NY State of Mind….

So the proverbial David in the NY Primary election is Zephyr Teachout, a law professor from Fordham University in NY City, and former campaign coordinator for Howard Dean. She is representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and author of a recent book on political corruption, especially the “psuedo-legal” or somehow actually legal kind as well as the stuff that on rare moments actually does send some pol up the river. The book -  Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United - (http://www.amazon.com/Corruption-America-Benjamin-Franklins-Citizens/dp/0674050401/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410228889&sr=1-1) - sort of defines what she is up against with her opponent - the 30 Million Dollar Man - Andrew Cuomo. Andrew is the Goliath in this tale, and a lot of his campaign money came from the wealthy and corporate side of town. Much like the tale of Faust, one can only wonder at what parts of himself he had to trade for that money, money that would normally go to the Republicans. In some ways, he is like the worlds best bank thieves (ISIS (and only that aspect of that group) - they robbed the banks in Mosul of at least $US 450 million IN CASH) - he truly is poaching from the wealthy, and diverting money that should flow to the “R’s”.

So, despite some socially libertarian moves (gay marriage, “Safe Act”) and common sense stuff that is Heresy to most Republicans these days (Frankenstorm Sandy was probably made worse by Global Warming, and we need to cut back on fossil fuel usage), he has fought any serious redistributive stuff like raising marginal income tax rates on millionaires and billionaires in NY and using that revenue to do infrastructure like passenger rail, pumped hydro, NYPA owned wind farms, new NYPA owned cross state transmission lines, etc. In other words, not much to mess with the profits of this, and especially of our Petroleum Overlords, who have such a perpetual fountain of money these day while so many of us are hooked on petroleum via our cars. Nor did he ever throw any Banksters of note in The Can while he was NY AG, and he does seem ever so friendly to the Overlords of Gambling (Wall Street). But, he does propose further financial emaciation of the poor and mentally infirm via spreading Casino Gambling (a Poor Tax if there ever was one) across NY State.

So, A Democrat in Name Only. His strategy has been to hide from the woefully underfunded Zephyr, most definitely afraid of debating her. And maybe this is his only play, since she is proposing:

- Banning fracking in NY State
- Raising Taxes on the wealthy
- Actually doing something about political corruption
- Employing people with the revenue raised by taxing the rich
- Ending Prohibition of marajuana, which is also a massive tax on poor people
- Lots of other Occupy concepts, such as renewable energy development, mass transit and things that reduce fossil fuel usage as well as perpetuate natural gas usage/addiction
- More funding for public education
- Raising the minimum wage in NY
- Net Neutrality, especially thanks to her running mate, Tim Wu

In this NY primary, not many registered Democrats within NY will bother voting - why when Cuomo has the money and is calling in all the favors which he has banked over these many years? In theory, it should not even be a contest. But, of the 10% of Democrats who might actually vote, Zephyr only needs 50% + 1. These voters tend to be the liberal and progressive wing of the party, and many have just had it with “Republican Lite”. Such as with "Idiot Economics" like “cut taxes (mostly on rich people) and this will stimulate economic growth” that are the definition of Austerity, a proven way to MAXIMIZE the bad effects of a Recession, prolong its agony and above all, shovel more gigabucks to the “1%”. Some other names for this moronity are “trickle down” economics, which most of us experience as “get tinkled upon” economics. Mathwise, when economic demand is low and the rich won’t spend anymore than they are already porking out upon, and they see no decent investment possibilities because the unwashed rabble that is the majority does not have the spending power to maintain economic demand, well that’s when the government is needed to STIMULATE economic demand. And unlike the Fedreral Government, NY State can’t print money, though they could start up a state bank (like North Dakota has) and loan out money at low long term rates (back-stopped by new taxes on the super rich). Lots of bonds to build actually worthwhile stuff that private industry won’t build, at least at decent prices/costs - notably pumped hydro facilities and wind farms and mass transit systems that cut petroleum usage. Projects like these could employ lots of people, that stimulates demand, and by staunching the money bleed that comes from exporting money from NY State to import fossil fuels (notably oil products and methane), that would help by recycling money within NY instead of from it. We could even massively fund ground sourced heat pump installations in rural NY (where more often than not propane and fuel oil are used for heating, which is a super dreadful drain and strain upon our economy).

But nothing doing with Cuomo. Such projects compete with the rentier profits so many of his defacto owners are now making money on, or hope to. And he can’t have that, as where else would those oh so bountiful campaign contributions come from?

But from the wind turbine viewpoint, Cuomo is such a massive under-performer - it’s like he swallowed a giant handful of “non-performance” pills, or else he had an operation that removed his conscience and then some. We should be installing at least $2 billion worth of turbines every year in NY, and maybe more like $5 billion worth (with that, we might even get some manufacturing in that segments). Instead, very little has been done, and of that, most was planned many years ago, long before he ascended the proverbial throne. For example, Ontario will go from 2.5 GW to close to 5 GW installed of wind turbines in the next couple of years, and most of that is LOCALLY MADE. That’s a cool $5 billion worth of direct investment… Instead, we have such timidity that it also seems as if he is in the tank for the natural gas pushers who are tapping Pennsylvania (Fracksylvania) and making such a mess of things (unless you actually like radium tainted roads and roadsides…).

So who are you gonna call to get a lot of these installed, so we can replace the soon to close 48 year old Ginna nuke without resorting to still more fracking based methane…? Well, it certainly has not appeared to be Andrew Cuomo…..



Opinions in this tale of the electoral long shot are the author's own, and not authorized by anyone....

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