June 26, 2008

Increasingly Shrill Anti-Drilling Rhetoric

Justin Katz

Think on this Dave Granlund cartoon as you consider whom to throttle (or merely to vote out of office) in reaction to growing energy prices and the resulting inflation. As the costs of necessities go up, it will surely dawn on the Average American that we could drill for oil within our own borders to tide us over until such time as new "green" technologies are able to bear some of the burden of our energy needs.

As that happens, the Dave Granlunds of the country will find it necessary to up the ante from inaccurate declarations of the potential to despoil the "pristine" expanses of nature to downright paranoid warnings of oil rigs drilling holes in our very backyards.

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There are a combination of events that have lead to the increase of oil prices. Some of the oil price rise is probably due to speculators (there is an ongoing federal investigation) that moved from the subprime and credit card loan areas. The lowered interest rates which stabilized banks but weakened the US dollar (oil is traded in US dollars) and is allowing inflation to grow.

Pumping more oil without increasing refinery capacity will be counter productive. Just as EPA banning MTBE a gasoline fuel oxygenator and gasoline industry not having enough replacement chemicals to make gasoline meeting basic EPA standards.

And why would any state or person wait to go through the political nightmare and environmental regulations, build new oil drilling rigs, explore off shore and on shore resources and when resources are found develop a means of nonexistent refining and distribution. That will take so many years down the road that most of us will be dead before any positive results might be realized.

Maybe this is the wake up call USA needed because it is apparent lessons learned from the last energy crises in the 80s were not remembered. Did you know the USA National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in CO. has modified a Toyota Prius so that it gets 100 mpg? However, the US auto manufactures still want you to buy those Hummers, SUVs and trucks that get 18 to 22 MPG and cost over $100 to fill up.

As for waiting for new "green" technologies, why not use anyone of the multitude of existing and readily available “green” technologies that are already proven.

Three of the current Hawaii "green" technologies initiatives under construction are:

James Campbell and Hoku Scientific Co, both private Hawaii companies, are building the Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park which would be capable of generating approximately 1.5 megawatts of photovoltaic power. Over the life of the system, it would produce enough electricity to power approximately 6,700 homes for one year. This solar facility is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating 38,161 tons of carbon dioxide and saving 120,000 barrels of oil over 25 years. The solar facility will be located in the planned Kapolei Harborside industrial project on a 12-acre parcel owned by the Campbell Company next to the James Campbell Industrial Park and would be the largest photovoltaic (PV) facility on Oahu to date. Expected completion in 2008/2009.

Ocean Engineering & Energy Systems, a private engineering company with offices in Honolulu, will build the world's two largest power plants making electricity from sea-water heat differentials. The new $10 - $15 million Ocean Engineering self sustaining power plant will produce up to 1.2 megawatts, of which about one-third will be used to run pumps and keep the system going. That leaves net production of 800 kilowatts. The undisclosed location 13-megawatt military plant will produce a net of 8.2 megawatts plus 1.25 million gallons of fresh water a day. Expected completion in 2008.

Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning, LLC (HSWAC), a private company, is currently building a 48 city block, 25,000-ton SWAC district cooling system for downtown Honolulu buildings and high rise towers. Most of the energy savings from SWAC are due to the use of an infinite, 100 percent renewable energy resource—cold, deep seawater. Hawaii is more than 90 percent dependent on imported fossil fuels; most of this is oil. The 25,000-ton HSWAC downtown project will reduce crude oil imports by more than 145,000 barrels per year. SWAC systems eliminate the need for cooling towers and, as a result, reduce potable water use, toxic chemical use and the production of sewage. The 25,000-ton HSWAC downtown project will save up to 300 million gallons/year of potable water. The project will also reduce sewage generation by up to 90 million gallons/year and eliminate the need for cooling water treatment chemicals. Reduced use of fossil fuels provides for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other air and water pollutants; e.g., carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by approximately 70,000 tons/year, carbon monoxide emissions by 20 tons/year, nitrogen oxides emissions by 125 tons/year and sulfur oxides emissions by 135 tons/year. Energy savings with SWAC systems are 70 percent, or more, compared to conventional air conditioning. The 25,000-ton HSWAC downtown project will save nearly 65 million kWh/year. This is equivalent to more than 25,000 residential solar water heating systems. The project will also eliminate the need for up to 17 megawatts of new generation, which is equivalent to more than 23,000 residential solar water heating systems. SWAC systems are simple and technically and economically feasible today. SWAC systems use industrial-grade, off-the-shelf components. Seawater supply systems have many years of use and demonstrated reliability in sometimes hostile environments. Deep water cooling systems have been successfully operated in a number of areas worldwide, from Stockholm, Sweden, to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) on the Big Island, Hawaii. The HSWAC downtown project will help the City and County of Honolulu, the State of Hawaii and the federal government meet goals and mandates for energy efficiency and renewable energy use. Government buildings will be able to meet more than 80 percent of state and federal mandates for energy efficiency and renewable energy use by just connecting to the SWAC system. Expected completion 2010.

Posted by: Ken at June 26, 2008 6:14 PM


You are not the buyer of these very sophomoric and cartoonish cartoons. It is the newspaper's editorial page staff that is Granlund's consumer and he scribbles for them, not you. They in turn should be concerned about their consumers; they apparently are not and the decline in circulation, influence, revenue and stock price is the result. Albeit that's caused by more serious failings than stupid editorial cartoons.

Ken - perhaps you could forward your comment on to Ted the swimmer and ask why he isn't championing something green, say wind power near Cape Cod?

Posted by: chuckR at June 26, 2008 8:29 PM

I tried to read through Ken's comment, but all I kept hearing was, "wah wah wah, oil rigs in my pristine water view, wah wah wah."

A few responses, though:

...why would any state or person wait to go through the political nightmare and environmental regulations...

My point exactly. End the nightmare.

Did you know the USA National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in CO. has modified a Toyota Prius so that it gets 100 mpg?

Did you know that I have absolutely no interest in being forced to drive a Prius? It wouldn't really hold all my tools, it wouldn't hold my entire family, and I can't afford a third car.

As for waiting for new "green" technologies, why not use anyone of the multitude of existing and readily available “green” technologies that are already proven.

Yup. And if the green technologies are so magnificent, then you've nothing to worry about: it will be more cost-efficient for companies to develop them than the various infrastructural items require for oil.

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 26, 2008 8:43 PM


On the contrary, I am not complaining about the possibilities of oil rigs on my pristine water view.

Drilling for more oil will not alleviate the immediate USA problem. Till the gasoline refineries get a handle on a replacement for MTBE, build new refineries, the dollar increases in value and the quick money speculators get out of the oil futures we will not see oil prices decline but continue to rise near the $200 a barrel mark.

The current laws and environmental protections are instituted because of the past disasters which Rhode Island, Alaska, California, Gulf Coast states are still environmentally recovering from. Take away the laws and requirements and I’m glad I’m living in Hawaii and not the mainland. I worked a few years with oil industry providing required oil well blow-out preventers.

I did not say you had to switch to a Toyota Prius. I used that example to inform you that technology has been here all along to obtain near or up to 100 miles per gallon however, that does not sell cars or trucks in the US.

As for the examples of State of Hawaii endeavors and the private companies that are moving ahead with proven alternate energy technology projects, talk is talk and action is stronger than words. Hawaii as a whole state is downsizings it’s fossil fuel dependence, lowering our costs and enhancing the air we breathe in the state. As a matter of fact, the Hawaiian Electric Company is sending out $19 rebate checks to all for lowered usage.

With the help of the vast Dutch conglomerate, Shell, and HR BioPetroleum researching the making of biofuel from algae, using a 6-acre site operated by the Hawaii Natural Energy Laboratory on the Big Island, Hawaii will soon be producing its own biofuels and not from corn or soybeans that deplete human food and animal feed resources.

Hawaii is now the first state in the nation to require all homes built after December 31, 2009 be equip with solar water heater system. Currently 1 out of every 4 homes is equipped with solar water heating system.

SOURCE: S.B. NO. 644; S.D. 3; H.D.3; C.D.1

Posted by: Ken at June 26, 2008 9:58 PM

Note also in the cartoon that the sea level has risen by several feet. Get it?? Because we had been using all that oil and coal! I'm surprised Granlund didn't work an orphan polar bear into the cartoon.

Shame on Dave Granlund for falling for AGW and perpetuating a myth without doing a little research.

Posted by: Monique at June 26, 2008 10:58 PM


If you know “Ted the swimmer” then you can forward my comments because I don’t know who that person is or how to contact.

I wouldn’t suggest a wind farms for Cape Cod due to this is New England, the maintenance, hurricanes plus the fact you’d have to erect too many wind turbines to get the megawatt output and when the winds does not blow or is too light you get nothing.

Just north of Worchester near Mt Wachusett ski area, take the chair lift or drive the road to the top, as you look down to the south, you will see an enormous wind turbine farm. Fix that sight in you mind and then transfer it to RI, MA or Cape Cod shore line and you’ll understand there are different ways to approach a problem when tourism is one of your states major income.

Better off with something like a self sustaining sea-water heat differential power plant. There would be a low profile, probably cheaper construction, higher power output, not a boating hazard and blends into the community (greater acceptance) except for power transmission lines onto grid.

Posted by: Ken at June 26, 2008 11:39 PM

"we could drill for oil within our own borders to tide us over until such time as new "green" technologies are able to bear some of the burden of our energy needs."

Great idea. No one has yet offered a cogent explaination as to why we should pay artificially high prices for gasoline, heating oil, propane until that green technology comes on line.

Posted by: Monique at June 27, 2008 7:59 AM


The euros have experience with high wind and high water at wind farms in the North Sea and adjacent areas. I find the wind turbines attractive - at least moreso than Brayton Point power plant. If you are on Nantucket, even assuming a day with no sea haze whatsoever, the wind farm would barely appear on the horizon. Its on shoal water, so its a navigation marker rather than a navigation hazard.

Your list of projects are all interesting, but none will deliver significant power, even if you quote them in watts instead of megawatts to make it sound more impressive. BTW, ocean thermal energy conversion is not new; as an engineer I first heard of it in the late 70's. I may have the chance to consult on a tidal power generator so I'm not averse to alternative energy sources. However, opponents will come out of the woodwork the minute any of these ideas are successful and scaled up to produce significant power rather proof of concept demonstration levels of power. It leads me to suspect that many greenies are more interested in shutting down civilization than they are in advancing it.

Lastly, while I find the technology pretty sweet, I'm not all that impressed with the actual mileage of the Prius. Look up the Nash Metropolitan from mid last century.

Hints to the identity of Ted the swimmer:

- 68 Oldsmobile
- Bushmills

Posted by: chuckR at June 27, 2008 8:31 AM

Your patient and well thought out explanations to J.K. are as pearls before swine. I have noticed that when J.K. (you can figure out who that is) gets backed into a logical corner he comes out snarling, sophomoric and sarcastic - How else to explain where "forced to drive a Prius" came from? Nothing penetrates below his ears and the space between them is too filled with the echos of his mind to process anymore information.

J.K. is excellent at reductio ad absurdum because it is very close to where he lives.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 27, 2008 5:25 PM


I never said or indicated ocean thermal energy conversion was new. Actually as you indicated it was developed back in the 70s but dropped in 1990s because it was not cost effective against $70 per barrel oil prices of the times. In the 1970s the largest ocean thermal energy conversion plant at Keahole, HI produced only 217 kilowatts.

Now with oil prices topping $140 a barrel and good possibility of reaching $200 per barrel the new $10 - $15 million self sustainable 1.2 megawatts ocean thermal energy conversion plant being constructed in HI coming online this year (2008) is a cost effective alternative and the 13-megawatt military plant version will be an asset to the military.

I am not against wind power. I just treat it as another resource that has its place in a long list of alternatives. I believe in blending the resources into the landscape instead of trying to make a technological bold statement.

Republican Governor Linda Lingle and Democratic controlled General Assembly are on record in writing that the State of HI will position its self to be 30% fossil fuel dependant replacing 70% of energy needs with renewable alternate energy resources by year 2030.

The military in HI has been adding solar hot water heating and solar photovoltaic power system to its base housing and buildings, large commercial companies such as Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, Young Brother’s International Shipping, D.R. Horton, Inc.(home builder) and Paradise Beverages, Inc. to name a few have added alternate energy to their buildings. One out of every four homes in HI has solar hot water heating.

I can ride public transportation to anywhere in the 597 sq miles of Oahu for $440 a year or drive my car at current gasoline rates $4.35/gal for $720 a year. I am trying to be prudent ($57/mo) with my electric needs as HI has the highest per KW/Hr costs in the nation.

Hawaii is unique that it stands alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The energy need challenges, resources and basic living needs are quite different than those on the mainland. The life style and mentality is quite different also than that on the mainland.

Posted by: Ken at June 27, 2008 7:21 PM


“Lastly, while I find the technology pretty sweet, I'm not all that impressed with the actual mileage of the Prius. Look up the Nash Metropolitan from mid last century.”

For the sale price and cost return I also am not impressed with the Prius.

My father use to drive a Nash (which I vaguely remember) but I do remember the Studebaker with a little propeller on the nose!

I use to drive a Fiat 850 Spider convertible sports car 4 speed stick with a 7.5 gal tank getting approximately 49 MPG in the 70s and 80s.

Also, ChuckR, I retro fitted my 2,200 sq ft house (also increased living space by 600 sq ft) in Woonsocket with passive solar (no electric fans added) cutting my energy usage (gas bill) by design 40% and was cited by then Governors Energy Office engineers as best blended and energy efficient retro they had seen.

When I sold my house to move to HI that was the big selling point because I provided 30 years of energy abatement documentation and copies of lowered monthly natural gas bills.

Posted by: Ken at June 27, 2008 8:05 PM


“Note also in the cartoon that the sea level has risen by several feet. Get it?? Because we had been using all that oil and coal! I'm surprised Granlund didn't work an orphan polar bear into the cartoon.

Shame on Dave Granlund for falling for AGW and perpetuating a myth without doing a little research.”


You can also look at the cartoon and interpret that oil exploration and offshore drilling produced so much extra oil that there was no place to put it and the USA is wallowing in its own oil.

When was the last time a new refinery was built in USA to meet demand and EPA approved a new alternative for MTBE clean air additive requirement for gasoline production?

$5 gasoline by end of summer and $6 to $7 gasoline by Thanksgiving or Christmas.

It’s the free market way!

Basic food, living, entertainment will be up another 20% in cost and there is nothing you or the laws can do about it.


Posted by: Ken at June 27, 2008 10:58 PM

Ken, there is nothing free market about our high gas prices. Nothing. Between vast quantities of US supply locked away by seriously misguided politicians and OPEC's deliberate holding back of supply (so as to keep the price up), this is the opposite of free market.

If and when the drilling and refining of US resources proceeds freely, under the guidelines only of our excellent environmental regulations, then the price of fossil fuels will be closer to free market. Unlike Hillary and other Dem Senators, however, I don't believe we should sue OPEC to compell them to drill for more oil to bring the price down because I see no realistic way to enforce a judgment.

Posted by: Monique at June 28, 2008 12:08 AM

You admit that OPEC is beyond the control of the "free" market and fail to ascribe the problem to a "free' market failure. You are admitting, admittedly sub rosa, that the oil cartel is beyond the benevolent, blind hand of the "free" market and is running amok. Where is the so called "free" market self correcting mechanism here? You cite two sources of the problem, but only complain about "seriously misguided politicians." The uncontrolable and carefully manipulated oil cartel slips by your "analysis" of the problem.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 28, 2008 1:22 AM


Free market is what ever price the market will bear. Looks like all the other countries are accepting the current price except spoiled USA.

Living in the USA does not guarantee the country nor the population unlimited cheap oil. Get over it; time to pay up!

The USA has more than enough oil plus reserves on hand but, its not at refineries and refineries are near max output.

If OPEC or any other oil producing nation wants to withhold pumping extra oil, it is that country’s right. If you are recognized as a glutinous consumer you are not going to get much help or sympathy from other nations.

Worldwide oil is traded in US dollars as the international standard. If the US dollar is weak or low to other world monetary fund exchanges those exchanges will bid up the price per barrel to make up losses. That is a basic standard of financial transactions. If there are speculators who are trying to make up for the subprime and credit card loan defaults and losses, they will invest and also bid up the futures to make up for their losses.

Why don’t you tell the Fed to raise interest rates to strengthen the US dollar and forget about saving Bear Stearns. Too late to act with too little action.

Why don’t you demand more refineries be built so more gasoline can be produced? Why not demand more chemical replacements for MTBE be made to conform to EPA clean air rules so more gasoline can be produced?.

This is a wake up call. The US policies of the last so many years with the superpower holier than thou attitude has caused the USA to be ousted from more UN committees and caused more international dissent against the USA than anytime in this nations history.

The same is true with the oil companies and refineries.

The USA is going into a recession and there is nothing you, I congress or the persident can do about it. RI is already in a free fall recession. Best you can do is hold on to your knickers and learn how to bake bread and make stone soup because this is going to be one he__ of a ride for RI into 2014 before it gets any better! I’ve already rode three of them out and now I’m passing the baton to the younger folk to learn.

Meanwhile, I’ll just kick back; lay on my tropical beach sipping a tropical drink in Hawaii.

Posted by: Ken at June 28, 2008 2:23 AM