Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Getting Green Wrong

So, let’s suppose that there is a blue wave, the Democratic Party sweeps the Presidency and the Senate, and the Democratic-controlled government legislates an end to fracking and fossil fuel subsidies. What happens? To begin with, coal mining stops almost completely. The price of natural gas perhaps quintuples, while US domestic petroleum stops being a marketable product. Ten million aggrieved suburban homeowners descend on Washington DC with trowels.
If we’re going to do this properly, we have to have subsidies to convert our heating systems away from fossil fuels.
But it doesn’t stop there. Natural gas is used for other things than heating. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is used as a maritime fuel, where it is preferable to the incredibly dirty marine diesel oil (MDO) that ships burn. (The whole merchant marine is a huge pollution problem, but that is for another post.) Ethane from “wet” natural gas is used as a plastics feedstock. Propane is used as a ground transportation fuel, and everything heavier goes into the various petroleum industries.
We need to plan for all this. We need to be thinking about it. Is there anyone planning?

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