Needed change in pipeline policy

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy guaranteeing a high return on equity (ROE) for gas pipeline builders should be revised. It is a subsidy that incentivizes pipeline overbuilding and is increasingly out of step with the times.

As FERC policy now stands, utilities are guaranteed ROEs of up to 15 percent, far exceeding the returns the private market would normally provide (Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC has claimed a 14 percent ROE). When this policy was established in 2005, it could have plausibly been argued that a high incentive was needed to strengthen the U.S. energy system against over-reliance on foreign sources of oil and gas. The fracking revolution changed all that, and the U.S. is now a major exporter of both oil and natural gas (as liquified natural gas).

FERC is now reviewing the ROE policy. Growing scientific evidence about the looming threat of global climate change, coupled with the rapid advance of renewable energy, make FERC’s review of ROE policy timely and important.

In 2005, our understanding of global climate change was limited. Now we know it is imminent and potentially catastrophic. In 2005, it was reasonable to think of natural gas as a bridge fuel for producing electricity, a cleaner substitute for coal while we awaited the emergence of renewables. Now we know that, due to methane leakage at all stages, gas is as dangerous for climate change as coal.

In 2005, renewable energy systems were in the early stages of development. Now, advances in technology and economies of scale have made solar and wind cost-competitive with coal and natural gas. In 2005, we had no experience with industrial scale batteries capable of backstopping intermittent wind and solar. Now such batteries are being deployed and their cost is falling. In 2005, we understood little about smart-grid technology and management. Now we are in the early stages of adopting strategies for moving electricity quickly across the grid in response to changes in demand.

Energy independence, the key justification for the 2005 amendments, can best be achieved by exploiting our abundant, free wind and solar resources. For the shift we must make to a clean energy economy, our most critical human resources are scientific and technological knowledge, and to bring this knowledge to bear most effectively, we must update our policies. Changing FERC’s ROE policy is just one of many such changes, but it is an important one.



Hickey cares about Nelson

I would like to thank Tim Hickey and his family for coming to Nelson County on the Fourth of July. He walked in our parade down Front Street in the heat of the day.

Tim Hickey is a teacher, husband and father running to represent us in the 59th District of the House of Delegates. The 59th includes the precincts of Faber, Lovingston, Schuyler, Shipman and Gladstone.

His grassroots campaign is funded by the people. He is not taking any money from for-profit corporations, their PACs, or any trade associations including Big Pharma, Big Tobacco or Dominion Energy. He will work for us, not them.

So, where was Del. Matt Fariss on the Fourth of July? And, where has he been for the last seven years?



Trump’s next big parade

Our president got his military parade as he supervises the descent of the U.S. to Third World banana republic status. A light of brilliance this week: The USA’s Women’s National Soccer Team is the 2019 World Cup Champion.

I have some ideas for next year’s Fourth of July parade for His thugness. Since he wants to hobnob with the slimy folks on the planet, why not invite them to Washington to see all our military stuff and what it is capable of. There could be armored personnel carriers for Putin, Duarte, Netanyahu, Xi, Un, the Saudi murderer and, of course, Donald and his family. Afterwards Trump could hold a big evening gala at the Trump Washington and bill the taxpayer a few million dollars. After some drones and their brave “pilots” parade by we could have trucks carrying those lucky enough to be just far enough away from the drone strikes to only lose a leg, arm or half their face. There could also be personnel from each of the 135 countries where the U.S. has some kind of military base; they could carry a sign identifying the country where they represent the U.S. empire.

We must also include a group of the most terrifying members of ICE, the big, brawny thugs. We should follow the ICE ranks with several trucks carrying dirty little migrant children in cages. For the best effect, the children should be thirsty, hungry and crying for their mothers. After this is broadcast around the world, the migrant problem may disappear. Perhaps we won’t need a wall at all.

The parade should include every person who got over a million in tax cuts. Each of these folks should be required to carry a sign saying how much Trump’s tax cut(s) have saved them personally. I think the world would like to know this. And parading with the sign should be a small price to pay for a million dollars. Some of these folks, like the CEO of Dominion Resources, should also be recognized as the true terrorists of the planet, ready to destroy the atmosphere for a few dollars more.

The parade should not contain anyone concerned by the fact that Alaska just set a new high temperature record; no use ruining anyone’s fun with the reality of climate change. Nor should Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Germans be invited. Reuter’s announced they were developing the barter system that allows Europe to buy oil from those mean old Iranians. Dump the dollar and stop supporting the Empire.

Finally, the parade should be only that, letting Trump near a microphone is asking for his massive ignorance to shine through. As it did this year when he had the Revolutionary soldiers capturing non-existent airports.

The British ambassador to the U.S. hit the nail on the head when he described our president as “incompetent,” “insecure” and “inept.” By the way, that’s diplomatic for “a blithering idiot.”

Finally, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash is correct in his decision to quit the Republican Party. It’s time for the politicians of both parties to represent their constituents not their parties. He is also right when he states that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not serving the country by hesitating on impeachment hearings. Just do it!

We can do so much better.



A point of political inflection

We seem to have arrived at a point of political and cultural change in America.

An expressed urgency for a generational and gender change in political leadership was made apparent in the Democrat debates. It was made clear by those on the stage, of both genders and all ages, that they had forsaken both the political and social mores of our heritage.

Republicans have done nothing to remove from the federal charter the never intended “vote buying” spending on social programs. Thus, they have no standing to oppose what is being proposed on the Democratic political stage.

We have contrived a strange political condition. Political parties, that have been vehicles for citizens to express their political opinion in the Congress, have transitioned from being advocates of the conservative or liberal application of the Constitution to legislation, to political contestants for power in the Congress. The citizen approval ratings of the Congress are properly in single digits.

Concurrently, there appears to be little relationship between the political goals of the president and the political party under whose banner he was elected. The political battle presents itself to be between the Congress, the “Establishment” led by Democrats and the sovereign states, led by the president. Further complicating the political station of the nation is the asserted Democrat and media personal “hatred” of the president. This “hatred” attempts to demean his creation of a good economy, low unemployment and active efforts to correct immigration problems.

Perchance, the fork in the road before us is becoming clear. Do we value the political and social values of our Christian heritage, as expressed at the Lincoln Memorial this Fourth of July, or are we preparing to venture into “Oceania” with our “Telescreens and Newspeak”? The question will be answered in November 2020.



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