The 'resource curse' and rush for fossil fuels in Utah

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  • Bioroot Energy, LLC Darby, MT
    March 14, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    As usual Dr. Moench writes eloquently about the mounting problems of fossil energy economics and environmental risks. However he has yet to take a stand "for" development of credible, cleaner energy substitutes, especially in the liquid fuel arena, such as a clean, biodegradable, water-soluble ALCOHOL fuel that can be produced from what's in the average Salt Lake trash can.

    The biggest missing piece of the renewable energy puzzle is a clean, renewable liquid fuel that is about 95 percent cleaner burning than gasoline, that can power both gas and diesel engines, is profitable to produce, and which leverages resources that have never been utilized as such. Such as the 450,000 tons of solid and liquid wastes hauled yearly to the SLC landfill.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    March 14, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    Dr. Moench is slipping into his habit of implying that when two things happen at the same time, that means one of them caused the other. He is making a leap of logic by implying that living near an oil rig causes more birth defects. But such an implication is not sound science.

    It’s possible that the makeshift/temporary nature of some oil towns includes more people who don’t follow good health habits or seek proper prenatal care. THAT may very well be the cause of additional birth defects, not living near an oil rig.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 14, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    Sorry for being shallow.... but I would think if someone takes the time to write 200 words about the folly fossil fuels are and tell us we should be using solar energy instead... they would be doing at least SOME of it themselves.

    My watch is solar powered. But I haven't found a solar powered car yet. Buses aren't solar powered. Not even Trax (which is electric) is solar powered (it still runs on electricity generated by coal and gas). So I'm thinking we still need gas, etc, for quite some time to come... that's all I'm sayin...

    That doesn't mean we stop developing this technology. It just means we don't cut off our current energy sources in hopes that something else will swoop in and save us if we stop fossil fuel exploration now.

  • chilly Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    Deserthound, those hybrids and electric cars depend almost exclusively on fossil-fuel fired power plants for manufacturing and operation. The only fuel source on the horizon that will significantly help meet our growing need for energy is nuclear. Mention that and most greenies go ballistic (no pun intended).

  • deserthound Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    2 bits: The argument "Are you driving a solar-powered car yet? OK. Kinda do as a say, not as I do then I guess..." is often repeated in such platforms, but is unfortunately quite shallow. Such a statement is premised on this notion that we can immediately switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We can't and most people know that. But what we can do is start to decrease societal investment in fossil fuels projects and infrastructure, while investing more in clean energy technologies. It's a necessary transition in order to avoid the catastrophic bust that Dr. Moench writes about. But here in Utah, we are just going down the same road, even faster than before. The bottom line, every dollar - whether private or public - that gets invested in fossil fuels is a dollar that doesn't get invested in clean energy and our future. Meanwhile, the numbers of plug in hybrids and electric cars are increasing every year, in spite of what the oil companies and politicians would prefer. But it could happen at a much faster pace if we weren't subsidizing fossil fuels like we do.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 13, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    Are you driving a solar-powered car yet?

    OK. Kinda do as a say, not as I do then I guess...

    Until you are driving a solar-powered car, and the rest of us are... we probably need gas, oil, plastics, lubricants, fertilizers, etc... which require fossil fuels currently. So we're going to need to continue exploration for awhile.

    I say explore both for now...


    I'm looking at the picture on this article....

    I see one rig. Not much impact to vegetation in the area as a whole. And miles and miles of open and undisturbed nature for several mountain ranges and valleys behind it.

    On the other nature topic today somebody said big oil wants to drill on every acre of land. It looks from this picture that every acre isn't being drilled. And that's a good thing. I'm just pointing out that it's not every acre. It's not even every mile, it's not even every hundred miles. Just a few spots here and there are actually disturbed. I can deal with that. I hope the other side can be as reasonable and flexible.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 13, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    This is the bargain we signed on for when we echoed 'drill, baby!'. As for boomtowns and 'man camps', it's part of my life, and it pays me well. There's oil out there; let's go get it.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 13, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    While we in Utah grub in the ground, other states are building high-tech thermal solar plants that will power their great cities (Phoenix and Las Vegas). When oil falls to $65/bbl, the Utah oil "boom" will go "bust," as it has always done before.

  • deserthound Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    Dr. Moench conveys quite eloquently the big picture by connecting the dots. Good editorial. Unfortunately, there are many in Utah who, by either a very conservative mindset or a motivation by short term greed, are unable to connect such dots. Even more tragic, it is these same folks who driving Utah towards this train wreck at a breakneck speed. I'm pointing directly at the the Governor.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 13, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    Thermodynamics teaches us that the world is degrading as a fit place for humans all by itself. But the burning of fossil fuels greatly accelerates this process. For example coal with useful free energy is converted to ashes with useless bound energy. Back to the original point, coal itself is decaying but at a much slower rate than burning. What's the point? It is this. We need to tap solar as soon and as fast as possible. Solar is an unlimited flow, whereas fossil fuels are exhaustible stores the burning of which accelerates the degradation of the world. Resource towns, like Price where I lived for a season, are the vanguard of fossil fuel degradation and they show it.

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    March 13, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    Resources encourage people to congregate around them. Congregating bodies of people become prosperous, forget the Lord, and become prideful, selfish, and uncivil. It's nothing new and it's not tied to oil.

    The trick is that it's not inevitable; there have been times when people have resources and congregate together for economic growth and community development -without- the civic downsides.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 13, 2014 12:17 a.m.

    One country that has escaped the resource curse is Norway. Profits from North Sea oil are being invested in ways that will make Norway better educated, more productive, and more prosperous in the future, after the oil ineluctably runs out.

    We could learn from their example, but we won't.