Friday, April 29, 2011

Coal vs. Oil - How about other ecological impacts?



[We've got mail and we're sharing it with you below.  If you'd like to add to it, use the comment box below the letter.  If one isn't visible, click the tiny 'comments' link ]
Dear Editor,

Thank you for your thoughtful articles on the impacts of natural gas versus coal. Your readers may want to be aware of a tool for impact analysis that could help rationalize the debate. Lucent has developed Life Cycle Analysis software that is accepted by a global standards organization (International Standards Organization, ISO) for determining ecological impact of a product or process from start to finish. They use it to choose the best way to make a product like routers. Sometimes they even decide not to make a product because it will be too much long term environmental liability compared to short term profit. How smart is that?

So if you applied this tool to some proposed actions like large scale deployment of drilling in certain locations, what happens? Hmm... So maybe we should build a pipeline to deliver gas from Alaska where we do not have to fracture, while we develop better ways to drill in the eastern shale.

And if you applied this tool to making lots of wind farms with wind machines using rare earth elements dug up in East Africa where wildlife lives, what happens? Hmm... So maybe we should mine landfills and e-waste in New Jersey for the rare earth elements, while we develop a better way to get the rare earth out of Africa without harming the wildlife.

And if you applied this tool to cutting greenhouse gases at great expense while affecting global warming 0.1 degree F, what happens? Hmm... So maybe we should burn coal. We could even convert the coal to fuels for our vehicles. Remember the synfuels program? How about that. We could do that while we work on the long term solution to global warming.

Think of all the jobs we could create, right here in the Garden State. Trenton makes, the world takes.

Happy Easter.

God Bless You.

Gary T. Boyer, P.E. BCEE
Branchburg, NJ 08876
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