Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fuel Prices and Dead Fish

Two stories in the News Journal underscored the economic and environmental benefits of the proposed offshore wind farm. First, the paper ran this blaring headline across the top of page one this morning:
Gas could reach $4 a gallon this summer
The prospect of rising fossil fuel prices isn't a distant threat on the horizon. On the contrary, we've become numbed by ever rising prices. When $3 a gallon becomes routine, here comes $4 a gallon. Crude prices yesterday came close to $100 a barrel.
The only way the proposed wind farm will cost us money is if the inexorable upward march of fossil fuel prices somehow gets turned around, in defiance of all we know about economics.
Natural gas prices tripled over the last decade. Was this just a spike, soon to be tempered by a long period of smooth and stable prices? Not bloody likely. The International Energy Agency (IEA), in its most recent World Energy Outlook, projects that overall energy demand, including natural gas, will increase by 55 percent by the year 2030.
When you take a fixed supply and an ever growing demand, the inevitable result is higher prices.
The second story
details the number of fish killed by the Indian River coal plant run by NRG:
Although a company-commissioned study concluded that the operation had no "adverse impact," the plant chewed up the equivalent of 800,000 year-old winter flounder during one year studied, more than 518,000 year-old Atlantic croaker and nearly 2.7 million bay anchovy. Those figures assumed that huge numbers of tiny fry and larvae would have survived to age 1 had they not been sucked into the plant.
State Sen. George H. Bunting Jr., D-Bethany Beach, is among those who asked for a hearing. "Here we've gone to a great extent in Delaware to come up with a fishing license so we know how many fish are taken in our waters, and those intakes alone kill more fish than all the fishermen I know in my district will ever catch," Bunting said.
At issue is a water discharge permit for the plant:
DNREC's current permit for the plant expired in 1992, with progress blocked until recently by disputes over the effect of the plant's heated water on the environment near its discharge. Federal and state negotiators recently developed a compromise proposal on temperature limits for plant discharges.
While the number of dead fish is startling, the temperature of the discharge could have the more profound effect on the inland bays. Just on this one point, burning coal is so damaging to the inland bays that the plant has operated without a permit for more than fifteen years. This is yet another reason why we need to get started building clean alternatives to fossil fuel power plants.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NRG draft permit was a HooT to a read. While Indian River has been classified and listed as "IMPAIRED waters" over NRGs objections, they still maintain their studies show they aren't harming things. DUH. The state thinks so highly of the studies that they order 2 years of more study to determine, what EPA already determined in setting the TMDLs for temperature and bacteria levels. Indian River is "impaired". So that takes us to 2011. Units 1 & 2 close, and now Unit 3 may at long last be forced to be placed on a cooling tower by 2015, provided that the new studies again shown the waters to be "impaired". Are we running in circles???? Nice gift to NRG. 1992-2011. 19 years of operation with out the expense of a cooling tower for Units 1, 2, & 3.

8:46 PM, January 03, 2008  

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