Changing “climate change” that’s been around for the last 4 billion years is a tough job, but in California, which has only been around for 173 years, our politicians think they have the answer.
There have been many misfires along the road to saving the Earth. First it was to stop drilling for oil and convert to all renewable electric production with total reliance on wind/solar power, and then there was an all-out reliance on cow pies as the end-all cure. We were told it was the “cumulative impact of these programs” that would do the trick.
Well, as near as I can tell the climate is still changing after billions have been spent trying to alter a natural phenomenon.
Lompocrecord.com recently published a report by CalMatters that led off with, “As California seeks to lead the nation on battling climate change, perhaps no debate is more fraught than the one over climate credits for cow poop.”
The theory was that collecting methane from the natural breakdown of cow pies at large dairy and feed lot operations would offset the need for natural gas, which was derived from fossil fuels. Of course, both the cow pies and natural gas come from the same source—naturally processed vegetation.
Natural gas from oil fields just takes thousands of years longer to produce. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that “millions to hundreds of millions of years ago, the remains of plants and animals (such as diatoms) built up in thick layers on the Earth’s surface and ocean floors, sometimes mixed with sand, silt, and calcium carbonate. Pressure and heat changed some of this carbon and hydrogen-rich material into coal, some into oil (petroleum), and some into natural gas.”
To convince farmers to support the collection of methane, the state offered incentives; but it appears that is about to change. As time went on, the state political/environmental elitists were convinced that wind/solar power was a better choice.
CalMatters now reports that “the California Air Resources Board is planning to overhaul its fuel standard, including consideration of a 2040 phaseout of credits that put a premium on using methane emitted by cows to produce natural gas. About half of the state’s methane emissions come from dairy and livestock, so collecting the gases wafting off of manure keeps them out of the atmosphere and offers a renewable source of fuel.”
When credits stop, the most likely result is that methane recovery operations will also stop because they are very expensive to run. But never mind; according to CalMatters one Redondo Beach Democrat has the answer—SB 709, which is designed to allow more meetings to “discuss the issue.” There, talking about it will fix it.
Now, consider the difference between oil/gas drilling and production versus solar and wind power. The infrastructure to support oil/gas operations has existed for more than 100 years. Oil/gas can still be sucked out of the Earth without adding any new sites. And even if new sites are needed, they won’t be those you see in old videos with surface ponds of gooey oil.
Meanwhile the installation of solar/wind production facilities requires the alteration of tens of thousands of acres of once pristine landscape to install windmills and solar panels, plus the added transformer and battery storage sites to collect and store the energy produced. Add to that the damage to the environment caused by mining enough raw materials to create the panels, wiring, transmission line towers, and battery banks.
When I talked recently to someone very familiar with what it might take to upgrade local electrical distribution systems to handle the electrification of personal, fleet, and government vehicles he said as an example: “Today we require one transformer for every eight houses; if everyone has an electric vehicle, it will take two transformers plus the additional supply of electricity to power the same number of homes.”
He hasn’t dug too deeply into what it would take to power fleet parking for the city yard, post offices, UPS, FedEx or freight truck terminals. I am guessing it will be in the billions of dollars for California electric utility rate payers—that’s you and me.
So, is it wise to try and change something that’s been around for the last 4 billion years? Only if you are a politician or someone who doesn’t think beyond a sound bite.
Ron Fink writes to the Sun from Lompoc. Send a letter for publication to [email protected].