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Guest Column

March 15, 2014

Get ready for more tall tales on natural gas

It’s comment season again for the Constitution Pipeline. The local venue is at Oneonta High School on April 1 at 7 p.m. If past is any indication, expect at large, rowdy crowd ranting about exploding pipelines that incinerate kids, ravaged forests, scattered wildlife, spoiled streams and the inevitable apocalypse caused by hydraulic fracturing. The only thing missing will be the bearded guy in the robe carrying a “THE END IS NEAR” sign but hey, you never know, he just might pop in. Save him a seat.

The antis’ argument is that the Constitution Pipeline expands the fossil-fuel market. As a cog in an evil carbon-based fuel system, the pipeline must be stopped. The rhetoric will be hot. Give no quarter. No surrender.

As for living in this brave new carbon-free world, start the reality check by counting the Raleighs in the parking lot bike rack. Oh, it’s bikeless? OK, just remember tires, pedals, hand grips, and seat are all petroleum-based. Materials for the frame must be mined, forged, and stamped using carbon-powered machines in factories lit by electricity generated by coal. The bike was probably shipped to the U.S. and Oneonta using diesel. Even the cash register at the bike shop uses electricity. And that power come from where? If it isn’t nuked, it’s probably carbon-based.

So let’s get back to reality. The Constitution Pipeline’s function is to move gas from the Marcellus to end users who heat buildings (gas heats half our nation’s homes), cook food, and generate electricity (now 30 percent of total U.S. generation, and growing).

There’s a lot of gas in the Marcellus. Fourteen billion cubic feet per day pours out of this formation, six years ahead of the Energy Information Agency’s forecast. This deluge is overwhelming takeaway capability. Without enough infrastructure, hundreds of recently drilled wells are shut-in, currently not producing. The industry estimates there’s at least five years of connective, distributive and transmission pipeline work in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier alone.

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