An interesting story from The New York Times. The details of the story have me shaking my head.
It appears that in Idaho a small group of residents are trying to block construction equipment from using public roads for transportation. The equipment is coming from Washington State through Idaho and Montana and ending up in Canada. What is on these loads that is drawing the ire of the local residents you ask? Is it toxic material? Is it nuclear waste? It is neither; the loads are large metal modules headed to the tar sands of Canada.
The problem the activist say are two fold. First, they believe the passing of these loads through areas near rivers will damage the scenic vistas of those vacationing and living on these areas. Secondly, they don't like the fact that the shipments are headed to tar sand developments in Canada which in their opinion are bad for the environment. On the first objection I would agree that the site of these big trucks would not be the most visually appealing thing to look at. I know the country up there is beautiful and that locals take pride in that beauty. However, what gives them the right to stop commerce on public roads? Again we are not talking about toxic or nuclear waste, we are talking about big metal boxes. Secondly, just because they don't like the destination of the equipment is no reason to say it can't pass. If you don't want to see big trucks on public roads, move somewhere else. You don't like energy from oil sands, don't purchase a car or anything made from the products derived from them.
I bring this up because it goes back to what I feel is the non-sensical approach taken by some when it comes to energy. They love to use it and the products made from it, but hate the product itself or where it comes from and how it is extracted. The comment by one of the opponents who says that tar sands are the biggest generator of climate change on the planet is absolute nonsense and I am not sure why the comment was even included in the article. People need to wake up to the fact that we need energy to run this country and run this planet. I am all for green technologies if we can find some to replace what we get from fossil fuels. Until them, small bands of energy deniers trying to block public roads from being used by people they don't like is absurd.
It appears that 8 months after the start of the oil spill in the Gulf, the administration is going after BP. How this plays out is anyones guess. Obviously, the region, its economy and the people that live on the coast have suffered. They have lost their business, their tourism and for many, their way of life. The effects of the spill are still not fully know and it could be years before all the damage is understood.
What I want to know is what is the plan from here? Do we push ahead with drilling in the region or do we abandon it altogether? Do we try and find out what oversight was lacking and who did not meet their responsibilities or do we say the heck with it and give up?
With projects of this size and complexity, there are risks and they need to be evaluated. With oil creeping back towards $100 a barrel and the economy still teetering on a ledge, can we abandon domestic production? Do we want to run off producers and exploration outfits to other countries who would be happy to have them? Do we really want to depend even more on foreign sources of oil? I think these questions should be asked and we need to be careful how we proceed. We need to hold those who did not follow the regulations and safety guidelines responsible, but lets not destroy and industry and put our national security at risk. Lets not make the problem worse by punishing everyone in the industry for the acts of a few.
The third annual Colorado entrepreneurship Meeting is currently taking place in Limon Colorado. This meeting put together by the Colorado Rural Development Council is a forum to help those in rural areas gain access to information that helps them improve and diversify their business. Many times small business people in rural areas don't get access to the information that is available to those living in larger urban areas. As well their needs are different but they can all benefit by learning about social media to reach a national audience, marketing, development, business incubation and grants or funds available to help them grow.
With the economy in the doldrums, this is a great time to learn how to expand, improve and market your product or service. By putting together a panel of professionals, the Colorado RDC is making sure that those in rural areas don't get left behind. If you are in the area, stop by and see what you can learn to increase your business knowledge.
A few months back the government was giving tax rebates for electric golf carts, heat pumps, dishwashers and other energy saving devices. What if the government and local utilities created a program that would pay for the installation of solar panels, solar hot water and micro turbines for consumers would you participate? The first thing people will ask is what’s the catch? The catch is the utilities would own the equipment and would continue to charge you a generation cost to your bill and would have the ability to sell any unused electricity back into the grid. The utility would have the right to all tax and offset credits you in essence are leasing your roof to the utility. What this should do is balance electricity supply and demand in a way that utilities should be able to freeze generation rates for the next 10 years. It would also remove any fuel surcharges to those customers that participated as well. With federal mandates being discussed today in the neighborhood of 20% fossil fuel reductions it is going to take grass root efforts like this to reach those goals even while Washington remains in gridlock. We have utility companies today sitting around and waiting for the government to make an $18 billion dollar guarantee for nuclear construction that on average will take between 4 to 5 years to build without any legal challenges. Just think of how many households we could install solar panels on for that money? With the price of panels today and factoring in a 40% reduction in costs over the next 3 years (panels have reduced almost 70% in the last 3 years) we are looking at approximately 1 million homes. Remember the utilities and government are not giving this money away like with Tarp they are investing it and getting a fair rate of return back year over year. Just think of the jobs this would create over the next 10 years as well mostly to smaller companies where this would matter the most. I would encourage you to call your local, state and federal representatives and tell them you are willing to help. As always I am interested in your thoughts to see how we make a difference from the bottom up.