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The following LTE appears inthis week's Hometown Oneonta:
 
 
Oneonta needs natural gas. Supply is not meeting demand in downstate's Westchester, Brooklyn, and Queens as well as well as upstate's Oneonta. The cracks are beginning to show.

The latest skirmish in Otsego County's Gas Wars is over the deployment of a decompressor station in the old D & H railyard. NYSEG's gas feed to Oneonta is seasonally limited; it can't guarantee supply to large users (colleges, hospital facilities, and businesses) during protracted cold spells. NYSEG won't upgrade the feeder line for years to come. Business and our local IDA support the decompressor station; the anti-gas faction oppose it. In Dan Butterman's opposition LTElast week, "We Can Support Economic Development Without Gas," he defies both experience and logic, here and abroad. Sorry, Mr. Butterman. There's little growth in our region without affordable energy.

We've tried. Since 2005, Otsego County has created three economic plans, all citing the attractiveness of our tech, tourist, educational, and cultural attractions. Results - minimal growth among an aging population while the young flee for opportunity. A fourth Plan is now in the works. We have transformed our IDA, Otsego Now, into a one-stop shop to facilitate financing and administrative hurdles. Over the last four years we've hired two IDA CEOs. Both have said we need the availability of natural gas to keep and attract new jobs. Economic growth is their day jobs. They've been clear. We need natural gas if want to create jobs in this area.

In Otsego County a relatively small, organized, articulate, dedicated, close-minded group are opposed to ANY form of gas expansion. They feel the use of fossil fuels will destroy the planet. The timeline to Doomsday is elastic; some say twelve years and it's curtains. Others, among them Mr. Butterman, give us until 2050 to be fossil fuel free.

There is another group in the County that favors ALL forms of energy. Their composition is more defuse, many in private business, mostly quiet, hesitant to speak up in public. However, most people don't care one way or another, as long as the lights go on and the stove works. Public polls consistently show climate change is a low priority among the American public. In last week's CNN's poll of the most important issues for the 2020 election, climate change didn't even make the Top Ten.

So, given our demographics and our local economic needs, how do we move the needle towards growth? Is opposition to any form of fossil energy in Otsego County useful even from an ecological standpoint? Perspective helps.

Two facts; the use of coal in electric generation is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG). The United States produces about 15% of the worlds GHG. To see who's producing the other 85% some recent headlines are helpful. "Coal Isn't Dead. China Proves It," (Forbes 1/19/19) -- China will build 700 more coal fired generators by 2027. A second article "Coal is King in India and Likely to Remain So" (Brookings Institute, 3/8/19) confirms a 10 year trend noted in Mining.com that there will be 1,600 new coal generators built in 62 countries by 2027. And here we are in Otsego County dithering over emissions from couple of truckloads of natural gas delivered to the D&H railyards so we can get and keep local jobs. PLEASE!!!

The D & H fractivists are part of the global opposition to natural gas infrastructure. Nonetheless, the substitution of gas for coal in power plants since the shale revolution is the main reason our emissions fell to 32 year lows. This occurred in spite of an 85 million population growth, a growing economy, and more energy use per capita. (EIA Energy Report 10/29/18).

 

If gas was allowed to be drilled, allowed to be to be piped to LNG ports in the United State for export to China and India, if LNG ports had been expedited instead of slow-walked through the approval process in the previous administration, we'd all have a cleaner planet. And a wealthier planet also!

 

Germany, the paragon of climate correctness, has spent close to a trillion dollars on conversion to green energy. Twenty-eight of its electricity is derived from renewable sources. For the last few years its efforts have plateaued, unable to produce more 'clean" energy without the help of two gas (yes, GAS) pipelines from Russia and three proposed LNG ports near Hamburg. In the meantime, its rate per kwh has skyrocketed over three times what we pay in NYS. Germany supports a whole new class of people called the "the energy poor" who pay over 10% of their income for energy. Think about it. If we can't attract employers at current electric rates, how are going to do so when the rates triple?

Meanwhile, the USA overflows with gas. Production records were set for the second consecutive year in 2018. Domestic consumption also hit all-time highs, jumping ten percent last year. The Marcellus, the second largest field in the USA, is less than 2 hours away by car. The Utica Shale, by all accounts, is also prolific. New Yorkers, the fourth largest consumers of natural gas, are zeroed out of this bonanza. So, no new gas for us from under our feet or piped down our streets? Is that the deal?

 

Mr. Butterman says he's against the D&H decompressor station because it "wastes taxpayer money." Since Mr. Butterman is running for public office again, a simple question -- where does he stand? No new gas infrastructure for Otsego County? Only renewables?

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