By Rev. Mac Legerton
There are many reasons why the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Facility in Robeson County and the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline are unneeded, highly dangerous and a burden to all ratepayers and consumers of energy in North Carolina.
The reasons include:
1. Contrary to industry claims, natural gas is neither “natural” nor “clean” energy. It is now extracted from the ground using extreme force with highly toxic chemicals. It is 90% methane, an odorless, highly explosive, polluting, carbon-based gas. The massive rise of carbon-based, methane gas is now the No. 1 cause of global warming, primarily due to the amount of hydraulically fractured gas leaked through extracting, pressurizing, piping, storing, liquifying, transporting and burning.
Methane gas pipelines and liquefied methane gas processing and storage facilities are two of the most dangerous and polluting, dirty industries ever created by modern industry.
2. The natural purpose of methane gas within the earth is to help cushion and absorb the movement and constant shifts in the earth’s rock formations. Nothing exists in nature that does not have a purpose. Methane gas can only be called “natural” when it is left in its natural state in the earth or created naturally through plant and animal waste decay.
Hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes because of the massive amounts of gas that are removed through this highly pressurized, extraction process. It is fraudulent on the part of industry and public officials to call it natural and claim it is clean. While it may burn cleaner than coal, it is dirtier than coal in its impact on climate change.
3. Renewable energy and battery storage are now cheaper to develop and purchase than the cost of oil, coal, nuclear or methane gas energy production and use. This is because of the high costs of the extraction, transport, facility construction and maintenance, burning and storage of fossil fuels and the high level of incentives provided to the fossil fuel industry.
The technology is now available to rapidly move toward 100% renewable energy with battery storage and new energy conservation methods without creating 30 more years of dependency on the highly polluting, explosive, and costly fuel that is fraudulently called “natural” gas. A massive expansion of methane usage will only inhibit this needed shift, further destabilize of our nation’s and global climate, and lead to more and more deadly climate disasters.
The cost of renewables and their energy storage is going down every year. This is good news to ratepayers, consumers and state regulators. It is no longer economically or environmentally responsible to support any new and massive expansion of any fossil fuel. From an economic development standpoint, the growing renewable energy sector is creating thousands more jobs than those formed by advancing fossil fuel use.
4. While Duke Energy and its subsidiary Piedmont Natural Gas claim that the proposed pipeline and Robeson County facility are needed for energy supply, there is stronger evidence to the contrary. Transco, the present supplier of methane to Duke Energy, has told the federal government that it can supply all the gas that Duke Energy needs in North and South Carolina.
As a major owner of the pipeline, there is evidence to support the claim that Duke Energy wants it so it will own the gas, stop having to purchase as much Transco gas, and send pipeline gas to Georgia where it will be exported overseas. Sen. Richard Burr has publicly stated that we need pipeline gas to be exported to compete with Russia exports. As the demand for gas goes up internationally, the price will too, and our ratepayers and consumers will bear the costs.
5. Methane is a carbon. It is CH4. Industry and public officials claim that they support carbon reduction by reducing the use of coal and expanding the use of methane. This is a false claim that is against all reliable scientific research, an insult to human intelligence, and is a morally shameful position to hold.