New Jersey Needs Natural Gas and Pipelines

People living outside the Marcellus Shale region in places like New York City and New Jersey have the pleasure of reaping the benefits of natural gas while not incurring any of the temporary inconveniences.  These areas will never see development yet they continue to delay and stop pipeline expansion into major cities as well as pass bans on the hydraulic fracturing process. New Jersey resident, John Broyles, takes a look at this phenomenon.

After reaching a high of over $13 in June of 2008, natural gas prices closed at $3.16 on the 15th of February.  We can credit hydraulic fracturing for low cost and reliable supplies of natural gas.  Considering the fact that 27% of all natural gas demand is commercial and industrial, residential customers aren’t only seeing lower heating and electricity prices, they’re also seeing lower priced consumer goods.

The Marcellus Shale has accounted for 25% of all natural gas volumes in the US.  It’s also closest to the premium northeast markets.  It would make one wonder why in late January we saw spot prices in New Jersey and New York trade up to $35 while prices in New England traded up to $65.

Environmentalists, in pursuit of their unrealistic green agenda, succeeded, along with the EPA, in putting such onerous regulations on the coal industry which, in turn is decimating coal generation.  They’ve also succeeded in pushing unattainable renewable energy mandates in the northeast states.  In addition, they’ve attempted to block new pipeline capacity that could bring cheap natural gas supplies to the region and caused undue delays.

All this has succeeded in creating the perfect storm.  As coal generation plants have been retired in New England, new gas fired generation has been brought on line.  The problem?  New England and New York/New Jersey already suffer from a shortage of natural gas capacity during peak loads.  This coupled with the fact that natural gas prices in the Middle East and Europe have greatly surpassed those in the United States, has led to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas supplies being removed from New England and another 1.8 billion cubic feet of capacity removed from the Mid Atlantic area that helps feed New Jersey and New York.  Since coal units have been retired, that generation is no longer available for peak loads.

Environmentalists will tell you we can make up the shortfall with clean wind and solar.  First, there is no such thing as clean wind or solar.  Not only are wind turbines made up of tons of concrete (considered hazardous waste in landfills) but their gearboxes are made up of hundreds of pounds of rare earth metals.  The average lifespan of a wind turbine has also been overstated.  Studies have shown that because of corrosion, wind turbines only last an average of 12-15 years.  One only needs to look at California for an example of rusted and decrepit wind turbines.   In addition, wind generation requires “spinning reserves.”

Because energy can’t be stored,  fossil fuel plants must always run in order to balance generation needs when winds shift and output changes.  Wind turbines must also be placed in areas that are away from densely populated areas.  Simple physics shows that transmitting that electricity to populated areas is costly and inefficient.  Hazardous waste is present not only in solar panels but also in the manufacturing process.  Ask any green energy zombie what happens to all that waste and you’ll get denial or uncomfortable silence.

Several new pipeline projects have been proposed to help feed the appetite for cheap natural gas in the northeast.  Last year, after years of legal wrangling and delay tactics from environmental groups, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finally approved Spectra Energy’s expansion to bring the first new natural gas supplies into Manhattan in years.  The opposition from groups in New York and New Jersey was baffling.

Map of the Spectra pipeline route.

New York City passed a mandate to phase out residual fuel oil and replace it with low sulfur oil.  9000 buildings were affected and the supply into New York would go a long way to satisfying their clean energy goals.   Building owners would be incentivized to switch to natural gas as the MMBtu equivalent is $23 for No. 2 fuel.

New Jersey’s opposition came from community groups who gave in to fear mongering and environmental groups who have wreaked havoc on the economy of the state of New Jersey.  They attempted to scare the residents of New Jersey by sensationalizing  the fact that 68 people died from natural gas pipeline accidents in the past 5 years.  (For comparison purposes 20 people die per year by electrocution and 40,000 die in auto accidents). Natural gas transported by pipe has an excellent safety record.

They also spread false information about radon levels in Marcellus gas using a flawed and inaccurate study done by Marvin Resnikoff.  In a last ditch attempt to block the Spectra Energy NJ/NY expansion, Jersey City, NJ filed a request for a rehearing claiming the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee was “partnering” with Spectra to build a new pipeline.

There have been several environmental groups behind the opposition to much needed pipeline expansion in New Jersey.  The NJ Sierra Club, Delaware Riverkeeper, and New Jersey Highlands are among such groups.  All organizations mention the environmental impact of pipeline expansions, such as contaminated drinking water.  Of course there are no facts to back up their claims, just more of the same tired sensationalism.

Another tactic is to mention the effect on wildlife.  This was the same argument used in Alaska.  Despite all the claims, wildlife there is thriving.  It makes one wonder why we don’t hear the same groups protest with such vigor about the massive bird kill caused by wind turbines.

What’s the real motive behind the environmental groups opposing new pipeline capacity?  It has little to do with the pipelines themselves, and is mainly due to their opposition to Marcellus Shale development.  That’s exactly why their arguments don’t hold water. Whether natural gas is sourced from the Gulf Coast (where environmentalists have push drilling so far off shore we greatly increase the costs and safety of drilling) or shale deposits makes no difference to the pipelines.  They are “open access” and must allow producers access to their pipe.

In 2011, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill banning hydraulic fracturing in the state and in 2012 passed a bill banning the disposal of natural gas waste materials in New Jersey landfills.  Armed with propaganda from anti natural gas groups they pushed the same false and unproven claims as the environmental groups who have so far worked hard to oppose coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas but have yet to offer a real solution to meet our energy needs.   Fortunately, Governor Chris Christie showed he is sane and vetoed both bills.

As a New Jersey resident, I fully support shale development and the pipelines necessary to bring our domestic energy to market.  Not only does our economy depend on it, our national security does as well.  We need to stop being held hostage by Environmental groups who wouldn’t think twice about destroying jobs in our state with an already high unemployment rate in order to advance their green folly.

Comments

  1. Paul Roden says:

    No form of energy production or transmission is pollution or has a neutral environmental impact. But what form of energy is more sustainable and
    has the lesser environmental impact? It certainly is not fossil or nuclear
    fuel. We need to stop using fossil fuel. Using hydraulic fracturing to extract
    gas and oil in the Marcellus Shale can affect the drinking water of 15 million
    people. Electricity generated by wind and solar can be stored. It can be
    stored in batteries for cars, trucks and buses. It can be used to make hydrogen for fuel cells or for combustion. The electricity could be used to pump water into reservoirs or pumped storage during the daylight hours for use during the night. Windmills or wind turbines have to be carefully sited and have the right size for the location. Bird migration, shipping and cruise liner ocean lanes. With a combination of having a smart electrical grid, wind, solar, efficient buildings, efficient machines, mass transit, geothermal, passive solar heating, hydroelectric, batteries, hydrogen, biomass from landfills, feedlots and old coal beds we can power the planet. But that is a threat to big fossil fuel companies, nuclear fuel and centralized electric utilities who only care about maximizing profit and don’t give a damn about the environment and global warming. You need to read the March 2011 issue of Energy Policy and/or the Nov 2009 issue of Scientific American. Jacobson and Delucchi have developed a plan to power the world with existing technology by 2030. Germany has adopted a similar plan and will obtain 80% of their energy by 2016 from renewable sources and shut down all of their nuclear plants. The German Chancellor and Parliament have adopted this plan. From left to right, Conservative to Green, they are united behind this energy conversion plan. Imagine if our President and Congress could come together on such a plan. How did the German Chancellor and the German Parliament not sell out to the energy industry money like our Congress and President have? I was there in Germany last year and they are “not starving and freezing in the dark” as some of the fossil, nuclear and centralized utility industry advocates claim we will end up as if we follow a “soft energy path.”

    • Tom Shepstone says:

      Scientific American’s piece was naive, biased and heavily criticized. Your straw man argument about people saying Germany is “cold and dark” is disingenuous as we never said that. We merely pointed out the renewables strategy is not up to the hype and Germany has backed off some and is building new coal plants as well as pursuing natural gas development.

  2. Natural gas is a God’s sent energy source. Just because man isn’t the renewable agent does not mean that natural gas is not a renewable energy source. As for methane being entirely a fossil fuel, well that’s up for debate too. Man how more renewable do people want an energy to be with by-products of water and carbon dioxide. Oh, you say you don’t like carbon dioxide. Well there are countless algael plankton and meadows and forests that would beg to differ with you. But what about about global warming you say? Climate change is just a planetary fact. It changes and has changed since before man and will continue to change after all our descendants are long gone. The planet is a beast that just can’t change its spots because you think it should. But what about hydraulic fracturing and the aquifers? Well the only case of damaging an aquifer on record after tens of thousands of hydraulic fracture treatments was in Wyoming and because the CBM horizon sat just below the aquifer. If we case off the aquifer with a good cement job over a multiple pipe casing program the aquifer won’t even know there is a well. NJ has some shale gas potential, do you think anyone will be able to drill it there? Political correctness outway reason on the east coast!

  3. John Broyles says:

    Paul, do you have anything new to post other than the same old false talking points? You would be better off admitting you’re anti-capitalist and hate poor people. No, Germany isn’t going to be 80% renewable in 2016, but they are certainly going to regret trying.

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