Vail Daily’s Don Rogers: Our natural bridge to green energy
Vail, CO, Colorado
America will not leap from filthy fossil to nice renewable energy in one fell swoop.
It’s not just a matter of seeing God and the error of our carbon ways as the Earth steams us like frogs in a pot.
There is no switch we can flip to instant clean and green. We’ll get there someday, just not tomorrow.
That’s why greatly expanding discoveries of natural gas reserves, tapped by fracking and horizontal drilling, are so exciting to everyone to the right of Al Gore.
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The practical progression in reality is from carbon-heavy oil and coal to carbon light (natural gas, in large part) to carbon lighter (probably improved nuclear) to carbon zero.
In geologic time it might be like flipping a switch. But that’s probably still a human lifetime or so away.
Meantime, natural gas has appeared on the horizon to become the bridge from here to there.
No, I haven’t been drinking the Gingrich juice. This is from listening to sober scientists, policy makers and industry analysts at the recent Vail Global Energy Forum in Beaver Creek.
I know this from no less of an expert than MIT’s Dr. Ernest Moniz, a top physicist who led a recent study into natural gas.
He and others at the forum showed a lot of positives on pretty much all fronts for America’s energy future. Not that this will be easy politically, of course.
For starters, natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than coal and oil. It’s reportedly safer to produce and easier on the environment, as well.
Coal power plants are being converted to natural gas already, and that pace should pick up from here.
There will be interesting impacts on industry as the infrastructure is retooled for natural gas. For instance, this is a fuel best used closer to the source of extraction. What might that mean for manufacturing in America if natural gas stays cheap and labor costs begin to even out a bit more between here and China?
The expanding reserves of natural gas, along with innovations across the energy spectrum, soon enough will bring energy independence much closer to reality for America.
Those are global game changers if they come true.
Only our fear, our politics, our inability to regulate natural gas properly can keep us from taking advantage of the opportunity that natural gas presents.
The biggest promise, though, is this boon buys us time to reach that carbon-free future.
It’s a bridge we need to cross.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2920.