It could be said energy policy is the United States and the global scene is totally chaotic. Over the past few months the internet is filled with conflicting and contradictory information. Both the global and the US response to seeking a new normal to prevent predicted catastrophic consequences on our past and present reliance on fossil fuels seems to foster chaos and could be deemed counterproductive long term.
China and India continue to build coal fired power plants and at the same time building huge off shore wind farms. Europe is trying to break their dependence on importing energy from Russia now rely on liquid natural gas imports from the United States. They are choosing to phase out or closing down nuclear and coal fired power plants. They hope for the Russian aggression to stop in Ukraine as well as the reliance on the sun shining in Spain and the wind blows in the North Sea. This they call sustainable progress, sacrificing reliability and exposing themselves to huge future vulnerabilities. African, Asian and various Latin American countries after squandering fossil fuel profits look for compensation for rising sea water and damage from the warming climate.
Here in the US the amount of contradictory information regarding our transition and transformation is mind boggling. The Biden administration through the Inflation Reduction Act has injected billions of direct dollars (funded by debt) and lucrative tax incentives into a hodgepodge of programs supposedly designed to stimulate rapid deployment of our new normal of electrified Nirvana. California leading the charge does not produce its own electricity rather imports hydroelectric power from Oregon and solar from Arizona. Across various sectors comes the warning there is not enough electric supply to power this brave new world.
Here in Pennsylvania as power plants are phased out and closed our own electric security is lessened. If the Shapiro Administration continues to advance Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will mean more pressure on electric producers paying a carbon tax. Pennsylvania, of the thirteen states in the group is the only state that exports power. It’s the only state that produces its own natural gas to power electric generation. Decreasing the state’s reliable electric generation, promoting wind and solar, can only mean in the long term electric bills will increase and reliability will be in question. Pennsylvania is part of the PJM grid that interconnect and manages electric distribution in another group of fourteen states and for nearly sixty five million people. A recent PJM report indicates that they project the decreasing capacity and increase demand will drive power available to a negative, requiring power from outside the grid. One thinks of too big to fail and waves of brown outs on peak days or nights.
The federal government is rushing to fund hundreds of charging stations along the interstate corridors. All well and good but at the same time complicating the permitting process for gas pipelines and transmission lines. On a number of local levels the cry “Don’t Tread on Me” can be heard reoccurring across the land. Farmers in Iowa are protesting wind towers, and pipelines to carry captured carbon from ethanol plants. Residents in Maine passed a referendum to stop a high voltage transmission line crossing the state to bring power to Massachusetts. Fishermen in Louisiana wonder why and how an LNG terminal received permits and the resulting facility have impacted both the water and air. In Pennsylvania a number of residents continue to question the negative impacts of the Shell cracker plant. New York and California are the leading states in banning gas cook stoves and gasoline powered cars arguing it is common sense and a necessary part of the new normal. The Biden administration after empowered rhetoric regarding Saudi Arabia production quotas fell virtually silent with the recent announcement of lowering production and raising oil prices. It could be advanced that the Biden administration after trying to limit domestic production seeks to have gasoline prices remain above three dollars, so as to promote electric vehicles. The head of Chase Manhattan Bank recently was quoted as saying it is time for using eminent domain across the country to assure projects can move forward. This could be all part of our new normal, the brave new world. (More about Energy Chaos soon.)