The one ray of hope in the impending deregulations is that more responsible corporations have gradually discovered that clean plants are better for business. I would also point out that great progress has been made in producing plastic materials from sustainable materials with less or non-toxic residuals.
When people accuse me of being “anti-progress” for my activism against the expansion of the natural gas and other related industries I try to make them understand that it is not gas and chemical production per se that I am objecting to, it is the way that we squander such resources by using them inappropriately and the inefficient means in which we extract them. I just retired from working for a decade in the infrastructure engineering business and have an educational background in Geology, so I’m not just parroting sound bites – I know quite well how this all works.
There are certain products that can only be made with natural gas, for instance, including synthetic fertilizers and specific chemical components. Natural gas is therefore a critical resource and also a finite one, as is evidenced by the current need to resort to unconventional means to extract the remaining plays of it. Therefore, it should be recognized as such and conserved for the most important purposes. Presently, extractive means are ridiculously wasteful – some end up burning off or releasing as much as 50% of the product. I know mining engineers in the frack gas industry and they will acknowledge this is the case.
Furthermore, burning NG for energy production is a waste when such power generation can be provided through alternative and sustainable means. The calls for “energy independence” as justification for the frack gas boom are disingenuous at best, since a large proportion of the volume is being sold off the Asia and Europe, rather than left in reserve for future domestic usage. If we REALLY want to assure long term national security we should ramp back gas mining until we have improved the technology so that we get closer to 100% capture efficiency. And we should reserve using it as a resource primarily for those purposes for which no practical alternative currently exists.
It is an economic “false flag” to claim we can’t have good paying jobs or economic prosperity without allowing industries to pollute at will and basing our infrastructure on increasingly scarce fossil fuels. Constructing the alternative energy infrastructure has been one of the fastest growing job sectors of the economy in recent years. And by “alternative”, I mean solar, wind, tidal bore, biodiesel and geothermal, even advanced technology nuclear. China and Europe are way ahead of us on all of this.
I realize I’ve diverged from the ethanol plant focus that started the thread, but I think it’s important for people to realize that not everyone who protests against certain types of industrial development has naive, unrealistically utopian objections, It’s time more of us understood that “dinosaur” technologies are not in our best interests.