Robert Bennett: A little perspective on an upcoming energy surplus

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 2, 2014 7:42 p.m.

    @vst... no doubt China has a huge problem. But we can't wait until China does something before we agree to. That is like saying the nation has an obesity issue... but I am not going loose weight until my neighbor does first.

    We don't have to wait for Beijing to fix their problem before Salt Lake starts working on its air quality problem.

    Second item...numbers as a percentage don't mean a whole lot, without the context. For example from the same source you used... scroll down a little and look at emissions per capita. Tells a bit different story doesn't it.

    The issue is China will always have a larger population that us. They will soon have a larger economy that us. It is unreasonable to expect a country with 4x the population to produce less.

    We don't need to wait for others to act before we do the right thing. What others do should not dictate our own stewardship. China is acting.... we should too.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    April 1, 2014 3:19 p.m.

    Gee-en wrote: Can anyone explain why we import oil at the same time we export oil?

    In short, we don't. Kind of. We export finished petroleum goods at various levels of completeness. We import crude also based on it's properties and how our refineries in various locations are built to process. Crude oil is not all the same, and requires different processing. Modifying that refining stream is a fairly long lead time process. We import finished gas and diesel into the NE sector of country because there is neither refining capacity to provide it all locally nor delivery mechanisms to get it from elsewhere in the country economically. Ship delivery is a very cost effective means. We export diesel and gas to many places without refining capacity and get excellent trade balance credit for it.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 1, 2014 2:46 p.m.

    @vst... again.. not sure where your data point is, but in real world terms, China is outspending the US on alternative energy development by many factors over our own spend. They are spending on redeveloping their transport infrastructure as well. If we continue down this path of deferred investment in our infrastructure, we will quickly loose any lead we inherited from previous generations.

    We have become stubbornly consumers and are failing to reinvest in keeping our lead. 30 years we led the world in aviation.. we were unchallenged. Today Airbus owns 50+ % of the market. In automotive we led the world... a title we no longer hold. In technology we still hold the lead, but for how much longer?

    We need to lead in energy development. Holding firmly on to the horse and buggy will not serve us well. Oil and Coal will be surpassed - that is not the question. It is when and by whom. I hope the US doesn't get lulled into a false sense of never ending superiority.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 1, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    @Alex 1 = I am not sure where your math comes from.. but outside my office window are two solar farms that sit on almost 12 acres. There are 10,276 solar panels producing more than 3.6 million kilowatt hours annually. Not to far from us both Google and Apple also have their own solar farms powering their data centers during peak hours. And all of this are in red neck North Carolina. So if we can figure out how to make it work... surely bright people in others regions of the nation can figure it out too.

    Can solar do it on its own... no. But it does offset peak demand consumption without the generation of any CO2 or any other greenhouse gasses. I don't believe even the most ardent person feels anyone one energy source can do it alone. One of my customers I work with is BP Window Power. If BP can get it... why can't other smart people get it.

    It is about a balanced energy portfolio.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 1, 2014 9:38 a.m.

    There are sill great risks to depleting our own reserves in the quest for short term financial gains. That said, the line where he states that Putin may have done us a favor is key... in fact it is one of those scenarios where Putin may have tripped up on the unintended consequences of his hasty actions.

    Putin, reading the rise of nationalistic pride in the Ukraine panicked when his pro-Russia leader was ousted. He extrapolated that this rush to nationalism was more anti Russia sentiment than a pure drive for self determination. In taking Crimea, he has only crystallized certain nations desire to not be dependent on Russia for their energy. He is confusing patriotism with anti Russian sentiment.

    This region is now seeking energy alternative. Its like Target talking of opening in a Walmart town. Simply putting the option of another channel to get product\energy will alter Russian behave. Russia had complete control of these energy markets, but over played their hand, and now the possibility of new market players is disrupting that market. The US being one of these options changes the dynamics enormously.

    There are the unintended reactions to Putin's actions.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 1, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    VST said: U.S. efforts alone will not save the environment.

    Correct, that is why we should set an example, share technology and show off that "American Exceptionalism" that conservative tout about. Or we could race to the bottom and keep digging ourselves deeper, instead we should be planning for our children's future not just our immediate needs.


  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 1, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    Mikhail said: Okay, facts… Plants use CO2 and produce oxygen as part of the system.
    Define "closed system." The very thin balloon of atmosphere in which life exists.

    Awe but at night that reverses and plants use oxygen and expel CO2...balance.
    Can you breath CO2?

    It's true anti-science is creating a devolution of critical thinking in this country.

    There are 2 republicans holding up a N Carolina bill for a state fossil, they want it mentioned that God made them on the 6th day.

    We don't need another religiously motivated "dark ages"

    Nor the "God has given us unlimited amounts of the things we want" so use away.

    Mikhail said: "since it lacks objectivity and balance."

    I agree where's the balance when 98% of scientist agree and only 2% are correct according to you and "conservative science" radio.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    March 31, 2014 10:45 p.m.

    @Tyler D

    Okay, facts… Plants use CO2 and produce oxygen as part of the system.

    Define "closed system."

    What "facts" do you have that man has caused global warming through CO2 production? The answer is "none." Because there is none. The modeling of the "settled science" is based upon false premises which are supported by admitted lies,upon which the population of the earth is being convinced that the "closed system" has scarcity, rather than abundance and that there is no "plan" to the system. Conservation will always make sense, but scaring people to cease to advance because of the human bogey man is and always will be not based upon truth and reality. Your "settled science" is neither "settled" or "science" since it lacks objectivity and balance. False premises are incapable of generating true science.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 31, 2014 5:28 p.m.

    Bandersen, in order for the earth to, according to conservative estimates, support 80 billion people, those few that consume the most resources (us) are going to have to get used to life with a lot less of everything. And that miracle of modern agriculture of which you speak is entirely dependent on plentiful, cheap petrochemicals. Entirely.

  • Alex 1 Tucson, AZ
    March 31, 2014 1:50 p.m.

    VST, you are right on.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    March 31, 2014 1:32 p.m.

    Bob-it's not suprising the right wing minority threw you out of office in the caucus's of 2012 with view points like these. Conservatives believe there is money to be made and cheap, dirty energy is their God given right. It's unlikely Bob will ever hold office again or continue to be given a platform to speak out with liberal views like these.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    March 31, 2014 1:00 p.m.

    re bandersen

    "Conservative estimates project that this earth can sustain a population of 80 billion people!"

    To paraphrase Jerry Maguire "show me the math".

    I think 8 billion is about tops for any reasonable quality of life.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    Re: banderson "Conservative estimates project that this earth can sustain a population of 80 billion people! We have 'enough and to spare' on this earth and it is just up to us to go get it done!"

    But there is a fly in the ointment as we say, and that is thermodynamics. Burning fossil fuels converts useful free energy to useless bound energy. The chaos of the natural world increases. This accelerates the degradation of the world as a fit place for life.

    Nicholas Gorgescu-Roegen "Entropy and the Economic Process"

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 31, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    @Mikhail- “I believe that CO2 is good for plants...”

    “Believe” has nothing to do with it - we should stick to facts & science when we want to understand anything about the natural world.

    But yes, CO2 is good for plants… but that’s not the issue. The issue is; in closed systems everything exists in balance. Too much of anything will disrupt that balance and change the system.

    If we look at the natural carbon cycle, we are putting more CO2 into the environment that it can process. If we keep doing this the system will change and quite possibly in negative ways.

    As a real world example of this, just look at Venus – not a lot of trees growing there despite an abundance of CO2.

  • Alex 1 Tucson, AZ
    March 31, 2014 11:59 a.m.

    Hydroelectric, solar, wind, and geothermal have their place, but they cannot replace coal, natural gas and oil neither now, nor any time in the near future. They are limited in what they can do. Sorry to spoil the fantasy, but it is just a fact. You cannot put up enough solar panels to provide for our energy needs, and believing that you can do so when the physics and chemistry tell you you can't doesn't change that reality. The only way you are going to be able to reduce emissions at this point is by doing more nuclear.

    So go ahead, do your research and dream of perpetual motion machines if you want, but until you actually show you can do it in a sustainable manner, your pretensions of ecological righteousness mean nothing. At this point, the only way your paradigm of being completely dependent on renewable energy works ultimately is if you start killing people.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    Re: banderson "We have 'enough and to spare' on this earth and it is just up to us to go get it done! The environmentalists need a voice at the table, but not to stop progress in feeding the billions that want food on their table!

    I suggest you all watch "Heat" on PBS Frontline. The costs of CO2 emissions are enormous. Watch the show and see if doesn't change your perspective at least a little.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    March 31, 2014 11:09 a.m.

    I believe that CO2 is good for plants... Plants create Oxygen using the C02 What a cool system we have! It might all work together - just as it was created to do.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 31, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    Norman Borlaug is said to have saved over a billion people from starvation because he discovered a way to increase the wheat yield on an acre of ground, something that revolutionized farming (The Green Revolution). The trouble with those who don't believe in the free market and humans solving challenges is that many start with the zero sum game depression point of view! (There is only so much available and we just need to realize that at some future point it will all come down to two humans around the last berry bush!) Conservative estimates project that this earth can sustain a population of 80 billion people! We have 'enough and to spare' on this earth and it is just up to us to go get it done! The environmentalists need a voice at the table, but not to stop progress in feeding the billions that want food on their table! It takes faith to live in the future and that is the danger of those who don't believe in faith as a motivating force!

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 31, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    Gee, Mike, I'm speechless.

    One problem with the drill, drill, drill philosophy of the misnamed "conservatives" (who seem to be against actually conserving anything) is that, according to some studies, if we burn even a third of the reserves we know about right now, we will render the earth uninhabitable. But even if they're wrong, there is only enough oil to fuel our current economy for, what, maybe 100 or 200 years. And then what? Time to start looking at replacing the dying carcase of corporate capitalism with a more sustainable system. It will be easier to do it now than when we are forced to.

  • gee-en Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    Can anyone explain why we import oil at the same time we export oil?
    Reminds me of an old Brian Regan joke where he asked if anyone had ever seen 2 logging trucks pass each other in opposite directions? Because if they needed logs over there, and the others needed logs over there...

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    March 31, 2014 8:49 a.m.

    Rather than providing energy to an 1800's technology, the answer is to develop new forms of power production, including mobile ones for cars, trains and airplanes. Leapfrog the Germans and Japanese who make better internal combustion engines and develop a technology that forever weans the world off the Iranians, Russians, Venezuelans, etc. Eighty percent of Russia's economy (aka Putin and Friends private bank account) is oil based.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 31, 2014 8:46 a.m.


    What I propose is that we use those things that God gave us, to enable us to do the things that we are here on earth to do. If it means extracting oil from the ground, then I am in favor of extracting oil from the ground.

    Don't blame "corporations" when you drive a car, heat your home, or have electricity. You, as a customer, are the reason that those evil "corporations" are in business. They serve your needs.

    There are some people living in tents just off the main road just east of Cedar Fort. They are the only people that I know in Utah who can claim that they use almost no resources (except for the propane in the many propane bottles stacked near those tents). The rest of us need oil to survive. We can pay the Middle East to drill in their ground (and play games with oil prices), or we can drill in our own ground.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 31, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    We shouldn't get too comfortable yet. The US EIA statistics on proven reserves show Canada a lot closer to Saudi Arabia than the USA. A lot. In proven reserves the US isn't in the ballpark. All we've done is find out how to deplete our existing resources faster using technology. As for the oil shale deposits we are always hoping to cash in on, I'm all for it. But it's going to take a sustained high price for oil to make it possible, and extract a horrendous toll on the environment. I'm good with that, but it's not going to be a utopian future if that's what we're planning to do.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    March 31, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    It is true that oil shale contains vast amounts of energy, but the problem is that the energy is not very concentrated. Oil shale contains about 1/6th the energy density of coal, so you have to process a lot of material to get at a little energy!

    Shell oil has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to make oil shale profitable, but with little success. My fear is that the only way to get any usable energy out of oil shale is eliminate all environmental regs, and legacy costs, and go for the VERY short term profit of a few companies.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 31, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    @ Mike Richards, what you imnply is a massive effort that would utterly destroy the environment. I suggest you go to West Virginia or Southwestern Pennsylvania to look at the effects of strip mining. It is disheartening to see the destruction from which we will never fully recover. To all. I know there are special interests such as big oil, natural gas, and coal, all who want to exploit every square inch of possible fossil fuel, but can't we do better? Are we a great innovative nation or not? I'm afraid that corporate special interests, in conjunction with conservatives/Republicans have thrown away our will to be innovative and problem solvers. Making a few bucks in the short term haqs become the new mantra. I can't believe that those who believe in God and in wise stewardship can agree with this approach.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 31, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    “The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves.” (from SciForums)

    "In it’s May 10 report “Unconventional Oil and Gas Production: Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale Development” that covers testimony provided by Anu K. Mittal, Director of Natural Resources and Environment to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, the GAO updated a 2010 report, confirming that more than a trillion barrels of recoverable oil exist in the world’s largest oil shale deposits on Colorado’s Western Slope." (The Coloradro Observer)

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    March 31, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    The way I look at it is. we Knew we had a huge amount of oil in the Gulf and in other places in America. George Bush sir Is very much into oil, thus the 70's price increase. I look what happened when Georg jr was in. I have my conspiracy theory's.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    March 31, 2014 7:08 a.m.

    The United States is in no danger of becoming the "next Saudi Arabia", In 2012 we imported 10.6 million barrels of oil a DAY and exported about 3.2 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products.

    We may possibly edge past our 1970 crude oil product peak, but with the extremely short production life of fracked wells we are forecast to be on the crude oil decline again by 2020.

    I think it is best to ignore the sensational head lines, and dig a little deeper into our oil situation.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    March 31, 2014 6:42 a.m.

    Exporting our fossil fuels would likely result in higher prices here at home. One of the reasons our natural gas is relatively inexpensive is because there isn't significant infrastructure for exports, keeping resources "confined" to limited markets.

    The one energy source NOT subject to global political whims, terrorism, or disasters (e.g., Fukushima) is renewable energy. Wind, solar, and geothermal power, once built, are price stable and predictable -- and such sources don't require our military to "protect" them, nor do they create wastes that need government bailouts to clean up (think Moab uranium tailings or Texas/Mexican Gulf oil spills) or store (e.g., Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility).

    Some red states get it. Iowa now procures 27 percent of it electricity from wind, and its rural communities are benefiting with jobs, land lease payments, and tax revenues to benefits schools and public services. Texas gets almost 10 percent of its electricity from wind, with some West Texas high schools sporting giant NFL-size football stadiums for their kids from wind tax revenues.

    And studies show diversifying electricity with clean, price stable energy helps reduce gas price swings -- something we'll need under this export plan.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 31, 2014 12:37 a.m.

    In the long term nothing has changed. Oil wells yield less and less every year they are operational. Eventually they go dry. We must continue to pursue renewable energy and energy efficiency. Yellowstone geothermal is a clean almost limitless source of energy we ought to consider.