I spent a night in Cleveland, Tenn. in 2014. The motels had little business. I told the desk clerk. “It looks like a bad weekend.” She said, “We don’t care. During the week, we have 6,000 construction workers building a $2.5 billion plant for Wacker, a German chemical company.” The Wacker plant is now running, creating 650 new permanent jobs.
It’s all due to the cheap fracked gas available in Tennessee—and Virginia.
Recently, a public-private partnership at Buckingham got a tap on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for Kyanite Mining, a modest-sized company that processes a blue mineral for electronics. Other regional companies will soon have other gas-related opportunities. Governor McAuliffe ardently supports the ACP for the jobs it can create all over the state.
Fracking is the energy miracle of our century. It’s cut our gas prices in half, and radically slashed the cost of natural gas heating. Now it’s attracting billions of investment dollars, from around the world, to make fertilizer, glass, steel and petrochemicals. The firms will have sizeable payrolls; their taxes will support schools, roads, and bridges.
Pipelines are by far the cheapest and safest way to move the gas. The Columbia pipeline has been here for 83 years with no water pollution or explosions—and modern pipelines are even safer. Fortunately, the gas can’t get to Norfolk or Raleigh unless we get our chance too.
What if Staunton or Waynesboro were one of the new sites? Some of our existing firms will eventually close or move. New jobs will hire more of our young adults, thus keeping more grandchildren in our area.
Many opponents of the pipeline say we should be building renewable energy instead—but the earth has barely warmed at all since 1998 and today’s renewables can’t do the job:
- South Australia suffered a billion-dollar blackout on a sweltering night when the wind turbines didn’t turn. Molten steel solidified in suddenly-dead blast furnaces.
- London’s unbreathable smog has returned as residents burn wood pellets–instead of natural gas at three times U.S. prices.
- In Ontario, a handicapped single mother wept as she told Canada’s Prime Minister, “You’ve failed me.” Her electric rates have doubled and her income taxes raised, both to subsidize wind turbines. Now she is also obligated for two carbon taxes, one provincial, the other Canada-wide.
Are the climate models wrong? Recently the world’s top article physics laboratory, Switzerland’s CERN, found that CO2 isn’t the “mystery factor” in our recent global warming, Instead, it’s the solar-varied number of cosmic rays, creating more or fewer of the ionized clouds that deflect heat back into space. More clouds cold, few clouds warm.
The Old Masters’ painting in museums had shown us that the Medieval Warming skies were mostly sunny, while skies in Little Ice Age paintings were heavily overcast. Our Modern Warming followed the Little Ice Age as the day follows night.
CERN’s lead author, Ken Carslake of the UK’s University of Leeds, says the climate models’ predictions of warming must be revised downward.
Of course, our immediate concern is the Valley’s forests, farms, and wildlife. Mature forests don’t have much wildlife; a long 75-foot grassed strip might actually encourage more birds, deer, turkeys, hunters and hikers. Of course, the ACP will soon look as innocuous as the Columbia pipeline between Waynesboro and Stuart’s Draft.
Landowners must be adequately compensated for constraints on their land use. That’s how we historically grant rights of way to important infrastructure. The pipeline, its taxes, and the compensation are all important.
[Originally Published at News Leader]