Tuesday, April 29, 2014
What’s The Problem With Fracking?
“To Frack or not to Frack,” that is the question.
As is so often the case, when people line up on opposite sides of an issue, the truth goes out the proverbial window.
NOOZHAWK reported that “The public turned out in force Friday morning (March 12) packing Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors hearing room to speak out on local hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry.

Fracking “refers to a procedure in which fluid is injected into cracks in rock formations to enlarge them, allowing more oil and gas to flow into a drilling wellbore, from which it can be extracted.”
“Environmental advocates are circulating a proposed ballot measure to ban fracking in the county...The are 23 offshore leases under the State Lands Commissions purview, 16 or which are actively producing oil and gas…Many of California’s oil leases were first permitted in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and have no end dates for production. By law, the state must allow production to continue for as long as those wells are active…The Coastal Commission cannot ban or put in place a moratorium on fracking absent an act of Congress or the Legislature…”

“In state waters, oil companies must apply for a coastal development permit for new wells, but since most of the fracking is taking place on older wells that were operating before the California Coastal Commission Act was put in place,” and “complicated legal issues exist about legal jurisdiction.”
Ronald Bailey, writing in Reason.com (July 5, 2013), noted “The Top 5 Lies About Fracking,”:
1. You can light your tap water on fire: “There are no indications of any oil & gas related impacts to your well water.”
2. Fracking fluid “could seep into groundwater and poison drinking water”
3. “Fracking increases air pollution”: Almost any industrial activity will involve the production of noxious fumes at least some of the time…” 4.
“Fracking causes cancer”
5. “Natural gas is worse than coal.”

Loren Kay, President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, noted in a Fox&Hounds article (March 26, 2014), “…no legitimate scientist or government agency has found a connection between advanced oil and gas extraction techniques and major seismic events…The real story here is that the documented safety record of oil production in California is exemplary.”
An April 10 article by Joe Armendariz, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Taxpayers Association, “Making the case for use of fracking,” observed, “Because of hydro-fracturing and directional drilling, America is in the midst of an energy renaissance.”

“The rest of the world is way behind us with respect to these new technologies. By 2020, America will become a net exporter of oil and gas, as opposed to a net importer…Indeed, America’s energy revolution is having a profoundly positive impact for our nation’s economy.

Consider that over the last five years, half of our nation’s economic growth has come from the oil and gas industry. And it’s worth pointing out the average job in the oil and gas industry pays $75,000 to $80,000 per year.”

“For those who care less about our economy and more about the environment, America’s phenomenal energy production renaissance has also allowed the United States to lower its carbon emissions more than any other industrialized country in the world – even as we are producing more petroleum products than any other nation, including Saudi Arabia…The reason is because hydro-fracturing has unleashed a natural-gas bonanza, and natural gas has replaced coal for America’s electricity generation.

Even environmentalists know natural gas emits 50 percent less CO2 than coal…”

“Because of these new technologies, America is running into oil and gas, not running our of oil and gas. In North Dakota alone there is more oil and gas than exists in all of Saudi Arabia. In the Marcellus shale formation in West Virginia these is over a 150-year supply of natural gas.”

Another observation about “fracking” noted: ‘Horizontal drilling together with fracking allows oil and gas to be produced from one well that might otherwise require dozens of wells. Fracking combined with horizontal drilling greatly reduces the footprint required for oil and gas operations.”

From my perspective, the question is not “to Frack or not to Frack,” but “Why are people trying to prevent it.”
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 22:39 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The National Day of Prayer
Thursday, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer.

Although it is not a National Holiday, when schools and government offices are closed, the day has been designated by Congress as a day when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

Wikipedia notes that The National Day of Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions, including Christians and many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Jews…(who) assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship…Luncheons, picnics and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well.”

The origin of the event dates back to the Second Continental Congress, which issued a proclamation recommending “a day of publick humiliation, fasting and prayer” be observed by the “English Colonies” on Thursday, July 20, 1775, “and to bless our rightful sovereign, King George the Third…”

As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington acknowledged a second day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” proclaimed by the Continental Congress to be held on Thursday, May 6, 1779.

“On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer must be declared by each following president at an appropriate date of his choice, and in 1983 Ronald Reagan’s declaration said, ‘From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received the divine guidance as it pursued the course of history.

This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.”

The National Day of Prayer has been challenged in the courts, which ultimately held that “the President is free to make appeals to the public based on many kinds of grounds, including political and religious, and that such requests do not obligate citizens to comply and do not encroach on citizens rights.”

As Paul Harvey famously said, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
Posted at 22:38 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014
Can Liberals and Conservatives Ever Agree?
Liberals and Conservatives will probably never agree.  They might as well stop trying to convince one another.  Logic doesn’t work.  Facts don’t work. 
Egged on by the media in a constant chase for ratings, the two sides engage in a never-ending cycle of “gotcha.”  But no amount of arguments by either side will ever convince the other that their position on the issues that separate them is not the right one. 
Each is irrevocably convinced of the merit of its beliefs about values, ethics, morality, government, religion, that is, G-d or no G-d, education, national defense, energy, protecting the environment, economics, taxation and so on, ad infinitum. 
Both claim that the other side distorts the facts or just plain lies to support its arguments.  Who is to be believed in what has become the continuous propaganda war that is waged daily in the media, on the Internet, with email messages, the endless stream of communications that has become the hallmark of modern societies?
So, why do they bother to keep trying?  Neither side will ever convince the other, but they persist. What is it that they really want?  Is it just about political power and control of government?
Both sides assert that they target those who occupy the center of the political spectrum, reported to represent about one-third of the voters, but everyone knows that when the Left and the Right argue their respective positions they are primarily
“preaching to the choir,” who occupy the more extreme philosophical positions of their groups.
People tend to be more liberal when they are young, usually because they generally don't have a realistic appreciation of the costs and motivations associated with correcting the inequities and injustices they perceive. They are often more sensitive, perhaps less cynical than their elders, and want to improve conditions. But they are also less experienced, have not seen as many ideas tried and fail, and they have less understanding of human nature. They also usually have more faith in the "system,” as in government, and in the ability of those in power to make decisions for the many and to enforce them fairly.
As they gain experience and added years, people tend to become more conservative. It is only in their more mature years that they may have supplemented their education with sufficient experience to begin understanding the benefits of our nation’s capitalistic philosophy, and I suppose some of its limitations. Young people generally take too much for granted, but ultimately most of us eventually learn that nothing in this life is really either completely "black or white," or free.  Columnist Thomas Sowell, who started out as a Marxist, supported this when he said, “There was no book that changed my mind about being on the political left.  Life experience did that – especially the experience of seeing government at work from the inside.”
Most political beliefs are actually shades of gray, with questions and arguments on all sides of the issues.  All systems of government are predicated on economic philosophy. In the final analysis, it is the means by which a society organizes its productive capabilities and distributes that productivity that is really the underpinning of its political system. People somehow seem to separate politics from production (business, economics and property rights) in their minds. They aren't separable.
Perhaps the primary difference between the political beliefs of the Left and the Right is their respective philosophies about human nature - about how people’s behavior is influenced or motivated. The Left generally believes it is wrong for individuals to accumulate what they consider to be “excess” wealth or to have income in “excess of their needs.”  In the extreme, their concept is that each individual should be able to take those things from the system that s/he "needs", while contributing "according to his (her) ability".
This is usually interpreted to mean that everyone should receive the same material benefits from the available resources and that those resources are finite, that there is only “so much” to go around, and that people can be convinced to put personal gain or advantage aside and act altruistically.
Those on the Left also believe the economy is a zero sum game.  If someone wins (earns or profits more than others), someone else loses.  On the other hand, those on the Right believe that additional “capital” is created by increasing or improving productivity and providing incentives.  Their concept is that when someone wins, usually by providing a product or service that others need or want - the income or capital of others is not diminished, but that more is created.
On the Right, they also believe that it is simply human nature for people to act in their own self-interest.  That self-interest is what motivates their behavior and that the economic system works best when it is structured around that reality.
“The success of the Plymouth colony can be attributed to the wisdom of the colonial leadership to recognize a failed experiment when they saw one. That experiment was socialism.  And, the rapidly approaching outcome was starvation, economic regression and total failure of the colony. “From each according to their ability and to each according to their need” simply did not work and could not work without government coercion.”
(From The Rant.us by Tony Ruboletta, Failed Experiment and Failing To Learn, 7/22/04).
The short answer to the question, “Can Liberals and Conservatives Ever Agree?” is no, not on their core beliefs.  Not only do they occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, their core beliefs and worldviews are 180 degrees apart. 
However, what they often manage to do is compromise to achieve certain of their respective goals.   The saying, “Politics is the art of compromise,” is correct.   Just remember, you rarely convince the other side of the correctness of your beliefs about economics or human nature.  Only experience does that.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 21:23 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014
Cow Chips To The Rescue
It wasn’t very long ago that environmentalists and global warming advocates were warning us about the dangers of cow flatulence, that it is causing or at least contributing to global warming. 
The U.N. even got into the act, issuing a report that concluded cow flatulence is a greater threat to the atmosphere than automobiles.
It has been estimated that 9% to12% of the energy that a cow consumes is turned into methane, which is released either through flatulence or burping. A huge number of factors affect methane emission, including diet, barn conditions and whether the cow is lactating, but an average cow in a barn produces 542 liters of methane a day, and 600 liters when out in a field.
All this methane can add up to a significant amount. For example, Australia's 140 million sheep and cattle are estimated to produce one seventh of that nation's total greenhouse gas emissions, and America’s 100 million cattle are major contributors to the problem in this country.
Is this a valid theory, or was the idea just floated as a trial balloon to see if it would gain legs, as they say in the media biz?  Whatever the case, it didn’t stay in the news for long.  Perhaps because it never seemed to get past the LOL (laugh out loud) phase. 
A good example of the humor provoked by this issue, along with a healthy dose of common sense, was found in Jill Fallon’s post (December 14, 2006) to her Estate Vaults.com website, where she said, “We have met the enemy and it moos? 
Apparently the beasts of the field do nothing but wander around all day asking their brethren to ‘pull my hoof’.  Every time a cow feels a small sense of relief, a polar bear goes through the ice,” she added.
Cecil Adams, in his Straight Dope Classic, “Do cow and termite flatulence threaten the earth’s atmosphere?” dealt with the cow flatulence concern as far back as March 1989: “Now, you're probably saying, what the hey, cows have been around forever,
how come all of a sudden they're a threat? All we know is this: atmospheric methane has been increasing at the alarming rate of 1 percent a year, and something's got to be causing it. The world cattle population is thought to have increased in the last decade, and Lord knows the Brazilians don't feel like taking any more heat for torching the Amazon.
So hey, let's blame the cows.” (straightdope.com)
In other words, we have another largely insoluble problem that threatens to end life as we know it. Or do we?
In another example of jumping to conclusions without having all the information, in this case about cows, their manure is also considered a good potential source of energy, and many farmers are using the methane gas it produces to develop their own power source.
So, which is it: cow flatulence is causing global warming or cow waste may help save us from ourselves by providing a new energy source?
A recent Reuters story reported, “On a dairy farm in the Golden State’s agricultural heartland, utility PG&E Corp began…producing natural gas derived from manure, in what it hopes will be a new way to power homes with renewable, if not entirely clean energy…
As cow manure decomposes, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide…Enter the Vintage Dairy project…methane can be captured and treated to produce renewable gas.”
“To tap the renewable gas from cow manure, the Vintage Dairy farm first flushes manure into a large octagonal pit, where it becomes about 99 percent water.  It is then pumped into a covered lagoon, first passing through a screen that filters out large solids
that eventually become the cows’ bedding….The covered lagoon, or ‘digester,’ is the size of nearly five football fields and about 33 feet deep.  It is lined with plastic to protect the ground water…The end product is ‘close to 99 percent pure methane’
according to BioEnergy Chief Operating Officer Thomas Hintz…” 
Once it is treated, enough gas to power about 1,250 homes “is injected into PG&E’s pipeline, where it will be shipped to a power plant in Northern California.”  (“California cows start passing gas to the grid,” by Nicholas Groom, Reuters, Mar 4, 2008)
Talking about cow flatulence may be good for laughs, but it turns out that it really is serious business, after all.
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 21:19 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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