Friday, February 29, 2008

Action (or at Least Talk) on Climate Change

There are signs that some people are taking global warming seriously (whether they are the right people and enough of them is a question for another time). Fifty people, for example, went out in the cold the other night in Old Saybrook to participate in a discussion of the effects of climate change on the coast of Connecticut, here.

I'm rarely impressed by conferences or public meetings, but I was impressed by the one Westchester County put together on Tuesday to unveil a comprehensive climate change action plan (which our friend and longtime Long Island Sound activist Robert Funicello had a big hand in preparing). They were expecting 250 people and more than 400 showed up. I've been around environmentalists in Westchester for 25 years and when I go to a meeting I recognize a lot of people. That certainly was the case on Tuesday. Even better was that there were so many people I did not recognize. The county's action plan is here.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Bryan said...

Tom,
Did the subject of Indian Point come up at the meeting? I'm curious how it fits into the county's global warming plan. There's not much detail or references provided in how the county calculated its current emissions inventory (NYC's plan was equally fuzzy). I wonder if the impacts and goals addressed in the report are based on the continued operation of Indian Point.

Rereading some of the recent press releases that mentioned Spano and Spitzer and their opposition to relicensing made me think that maybe Spitzer is calculating that he has more to lose by backing down on IP than he has caving on Broadwater. If he has Spano and Bloomberg making the case that Broadwater is necessary in order to close IP, perhaps he could be swayed.

I hope ABC has been dealing with the IP issue. ABC needs to make sure that their suggested alternatives to Broadwater would provide enough gas to replace IP and repower the LI plants and convert LI homes using fuel oil to natural gas.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

That's an interesting concept, Bryan, converting from stinky old oil furnaces to natural gas. I did some cursory investigation into the issue and found that natural gas is not a clear winner in terms of greenhouse gases, cost, or safety. I have no idea if many communities are piped for natural gas in the area, such as Long Island, but that would add to more costs and leakage if needed.

Leakage is something unavoidable with natural gas systems. Most utilities figure that 1-2% of the gas is lost due to leaking joints, compressors, and transmission stations, and these numbers could be low. The problem is that methane (natural bas) is 64 times more reactive than carbon dioxide.

I'm not to sure what to think about converting from fuel oil heating to something else like natural gas or electricity. There doesn't seem to be any gain as long as somebody is burning a fossil fuel. /sam

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

Sam,

Good points all. I included the fuel oil conversion based on the moderate reduction in GHG gained from burning NG vs. #2 oil on a gross basis. My thoughts were also more focused on the issue of barging and trucking diesel fuel to and around LI and the environmental havoc that occurs when an accident happens. Then there's the GHG emissions from transporting the heating oil itself.

I hadn't considered leakage. I suppose it could be the great leveler. A well-to-home or lifecycle analyses of both fuels would be necessary to nail it down conclusively (something I'm not able to do).

I recently saw such an analysis done by Pacific Environment for electricity production using LNG. The conclusion was that LNG was as dirty as coal (reading the fine print, though, revealed that it's not so definitive). Even domestic NG, the group claimed, wasn't much better than coal. The group goes on to say that LNG is bad because "our" use of it will leave less for the Chinese, so they'll burn coal instead. Helluva'n argument and not one that makes much sense to me. But that's a bit off-topic.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Naw good points too Bryan and I might sound like I really know stuff but I'm as bewildered as the next person. If you need a certain BTU rating on a furnace, though, you could burn wood for that matter (many do if they can now with the prices of energy). So there are trade-offs with an strategy, some increasing particulate are emissions or not.

Pipelines are the most efficient means of transportation next to the bicycle in terms of mass movements but they have their issues as well, like we agree.

The one thing I was surprised about was all the oil heating providers claiming such excellent performance on efficiency, cost, and environment. I ran into at least a dozen (Google long island + fuel oil). None of that was really true either. Obviously they're trying to protect a market to keep folks from going into propane, NG, electricity, or some other energy source.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Interesting stuff -- thanks, guys.

To answer Bryan's first question, Indian Point and unclear power in general certainly were not on the agenda on Tuesday, nor did they come up for discussion in the first two general talks of the day. After that I went to just two breakout sessions (and left the second one early after I had finished eating lunch) and it wasn't mentioned in either.

Working from memory, the county thinks IP should be shut down because it thinks the evacuation plan is unworkable, which it no doubt is. If someone asked the county if they'd like a substantial amount of energy from a nuke plant out in the middle of nowhere, my guess is the'd say yes without making a big deal of it.

For lots of hard-core greenies that would be heresy, of course. But all things being equal, I'm prepared to have some more nukes built. I just don't want them near cities.

7:11 PM  

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