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Explaining one's view of today's energy
Re: Patricia Szot's letter to the editor ("Let's put our energy behind a friendly planet", Auburn Reporter, Aug. 15). I must confess I found her response to my previous letter to be most amusing. She accuses me of hypocrisy by twisting facts, and then proceeds to unload one misstatement after another with little regard for reality.
First she says, "A good portion of our energy comes from other sources that are not fossil fuels (hydroelectric power and wind energy)." If a good portion means 13 percent (7 percent for hydropower and 6 percent for renewables), then I suppose she is correct. But since the area's environmentalists seem to be advocating removal of the dams, that number might drop a little.
Next, she says that oil being shipped by rail is primarily going to ports to be exported. Since it has been against the law for 40 years to export crude oil, except under certain circumstances, this isn't happening. We do export some refined products, but the large majority of it is being used right here or going to Canada. Also, our drop in demand for fossil fuels has nothing to do with renewable energy and was caused primarily because of lower economic activity from the recession.
The point about the Keystone pipeline also requires a response. Seventy-five percent of the southern leg is complete, and the northern leg will be finished this year. Ms. Szot says only a handful of jobs for maintenance are involved here. What she forgets is they are spending $2.3 billion just for the southern leg of the pipeline. That means jobs building pipe, transporting pipe and supplies, laying the route, putting it together, not to mention supplying housing, food, and all the rest along the way. After it is completed, there are tens of thousands of jobs on both ends, as well as in the middle to maintain and keep it flowing. High-paying jobs that we so desperately need. The oil coming through it lowers our dependence on crazy fanatical regimes with sketchy human rights and keeps our own energy prices lower. I'm not sure I understand the downside.
I won't spend much time with her statement that solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuel. Government estimates put solar at 35 percent more expensive than coal, and 96 percent more expensive than natural gas, considering all the variables. Since it is only available about 20 percent of the time, it isn't a very cost effective means to generate energy. However, if the deck is stacked in favor of solar, when all the costs and subsidies aren't considered, then yes, it does get close.
Finally, I'm curious about her statement that she doesn't need a scientist to tell her that global warming is real — she can see the effects from her 30 years in the area. To what visible effects are you referring? I'm a native of this area, with almost twice as much time here as you, and I haven't seen these radical changes to which you allude. Mount Rainier has about as much snow as it always has, we get about the same amount of rain and sun as we've always had.
To say that I am "burdening" my grandchildren with a planet that is changing because I'm not convinced that global warming is understood is ludicrous. If we are burdening our progeny, it is by handing them a $20 trillion deficit, an economy that is so over-regulated that it can barely grow, and a lack of good jobs for normal people that aren't programmers of some new iPhone app. Giving our country the resources to deal with whatever problems face it in the future will be the key to survival.
– Dana Holgate