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In our opinion: Weighing costs against benefits, in Utah and around the nation, necessary for sound energy development

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 5, 2014 6:49 a.m.

    A good and fair discussion of the opportunity that lies ahead. As with all new technologies, many of them are front loaded with caused as the developmental curve and demand catches up. For some of these, Utah is going to have to take some chances, knowing that some will succeed, and some will fail. But when viewed as portfolio, the overall risk will justify the returns.

    Utah has the opportunity to be a leader - an incubator of innovation. We will just have to wait and see if Utah's leaders collectively have the courage to seize this moment.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    June 5, 2014 7:01 a.m.

    "Developers need to determine what is technologically and economically feasible."

    ======

    Are we talking about the same "developers" who are responsible for Utah being #1 in urban sprawl?

    Are we talking about the same "developers" who constantly are putting "profits" ahead of "people" or the enviornment?

    Are we talking about the same "developers" who are arm twisting the State to move the Prison for $2 billions so they can have the now "prime" real estate at taxpayers expense?

    Tell you what -- LEAVE the "developers' out of it.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 5, 2014 7:29 a.m.

    Let me add the following before we get the normal renewables doesn't work chatter. Consider this from Bloomberg News Media published just today.

    "Warren Buffett’s $26 billion bet on western U.S. power plants, transmission lines and wind farms is poised to pay off.The move would be a game-changer for the renewables that Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co. has accumulated over the past decade, including two of the world’s largest solar farms, and for other clean-power producers, according to those who trade in the region’s markets. Berkshire’s plants stand to run for longer periods of time, and its NV Energy Inc. and PacifiCorp utilities will save as much as $63.9 million annually by 2017, Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. reports show."

    Warren Buffet has bet 26 billion on this. If you let that sink in, one of Americas most successful investors has placed his bet. That should tell you something.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 5, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    Re: "It simply makes sense for the energy industry in Utah, and in the nation as a whole, to put more effort and initiative to cultivating cleaner sources of energy."

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's exactly what we've been doing for many, many years. It's way past time for us to recognize that every time politicians attempt to co-opt and take credit for a market-based process, it results in disaster.

    And, disaster is exactly what awaits us, unless we calmly, objectively, and honestly engage in a real weighing of costs and benefits -- to real people, not just political hacks.

    Obama's illegal and dictatorial allocation of energy misery has much, much less to do with sound economics and actual concern for the environment, than with the politics of buying off small constituencies, in the hope of overcoming the will of the majority.

    Selecting his campaign promise of making energy prices "necessarily skyrocket" as his sole political legacy seems lunacy, unless viewed through the lens of Democrat "big tent" politics.

    Sound energy development requires more than jingoistic liberal talking points.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 5, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    Open Minded Mormon,

    Yes, we are talking about those same developers plus the ones who want to bulldoze Mulligans park in South Jordan and put in crappy apartments and stores.

    Yes, those very same developers.

    When it comes to saving the environment? We must always look at cost.

    But when it comes to developing park and federally controlled lands, we can never look at cost. We must only look at how much money a select few will make!

    So sad

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    June 5, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    to UtahBlueDevil

    "Utah has the opportunity to be a leader - an incubator of innovation. We will just have to wait and see if Utah's leaders collectively have the courage to seize this moment."

    Utah, Innovation, and being ahead of the curve? Surely, you jest. Most times here, the 'majority's idea of thinking outside the box' is to get a bigger box.

    "Warren Buffet has bet 26 billion on this. If you let that sink in, one of Americas most successful investors has placed his bet. That should tell you something."

    What it tells me is that Utah's so called leaders will never validate someone so liberal. It will be interesting to how some posters spin this as WB is part of the 1%... just not of their political ilk.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    June 5, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    This editorial seems to be an end run around the environmental issues with energy. You are downplaying its relevance. Heck, you barely even mention it. Think back to the lovely inversions of this past winter. Keep up your love affair with coal, and perhaps you can get to the point of London in the 1850s, or even my experience in an industrial town in France in the 1970s where a visit left soot in your eyes and nose. The climate change naysayers seem to be bullying you (and certainly others). Maybe as a leader in the community, this paper should show some leadership and push for more dramatic action on investment in new energy alternatives. Do we have the answers now? No, but there are some intriguing things going on, including Ford researching solar sheets on cars and solar energy roads. Investment and necessity will solve the problem. Tearing up our landscape for shale is exactly the worst thing we can do. We can do better than just serving interests with an immediate profit interest with no regard for the long term.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 5, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    @procuradorfiscal – “Obama's illegal and dictatorial allocation of energy misery has much, much less to do with sound economics and actual concern for the environment, than with the politics of buying off small constituencies, in the hope of overcoming the will of the majority.”

    I thought your comment was good – sound cost benefit analysis is a good idea – until I got to this part.

    What’s the deal with today’s conservatives and their bizarre mix of sound logic and hysterical hatred? I remember seeing this with far-lefties during the Bush years but they were pretty fringe and not highly represented in government… something I cannot say about today’s conservatives.

    I hope conservatives regain their sanity after 2016 because the country needs a vibrant, intelligent and sober Republican party if we are ever going to get back to governing the way Madison envisioned (i.e., by forging compromises).

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 5, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    Tyler D,

    You are too funny. No wait. You're not serious are you?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 5, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    @Semi-Strong – “You are too funny. No wait. You're not serious are you?”

    I know, right?!

    Wait… which part?

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    June 5, 2014 11:11 a.m.

    Please be sure to weigh the consequence of not doing anything about clean, renewable energy ---

    Something I have witnessed the Deseret News and most conservatives routinely leave out of the equation when weighing the costs...

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 5, 2014 11:28 a.m.

    "Utah" and "innovation" in the same sentence. Who would have ever expected that?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    June 5, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    The funny thing is that the same people who say we need to reduce carbon emissions are the same people that oppose the nuclear power plant that has been proposed near Green River.

    If they truely wanted to power the Utah economy, clean the air, and save the environment, it would make the most sense to build the nuclear power plant.

    Why is nuclear power always left off the list of "green" power? The fule can be recycled, it doesn't chop up birds, and it doesn't burn up birds either.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    June 5, 2014 12:21 p.m.

    Well written opinion piece. to the sentence "Developers need to determine what is technologically and economically feasible," I would only add "environmentally feasible" as well. This is, after all, the elephant in the room when it comes to energy development.

    Utah is the #1 state most heavily reliant on dirty coal, which is why our power is so cheap. We also have terrible air, which may be associated with our having the highest rate of autism in the union and an abnormally high rate of infertility. There are always costs and benefits to every option. We just have to decide whether cheap energy is worth all the other problems that come with it.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    June 5, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    @Redshirt1701
    Deep Space 9, Ut
    The funny thing is that the same people who say we need to reduce carbon emissions are the same people that oppose the nuclear power plant that has been proposed near Green River.

    [Funny? I'm not laughing, I'm all for it. Who's against it? Pres. Obama has issued more nuclear permits than any President in the last 50 years.]

    Why is nuclear power always left off the list of "green" power? The fule can be recycled, it doesn't chop up birds, and it doesn't burn up birds either.

    11:50 a.m. June 5, 2014

    [Nuclear reactors can recycle spent fuel - ONCE. Breeder Reators. But the side note you left out was waste from Breeder reators is 100 times more dangers, and after 60 years have not proven to economically feesible and are being phased out.

    Nuclear is off the list in "Utah" because we are a desert, and nuclear plants need water -- LOTS of water to operate, and operate safely -- think aircraft carriers, submarines,3 mile island, Japan, Fukashima.]

    2 final notes --
    1. I'm all for it,
    and
    2. You are not a Scientist.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    June 5, 2014 1:24 p.m.

    To "Spangs" actually in the Salt Lake Valley there are not any coal fired power plants. Since the prevailing winds typically come from the West, the nearest coal fired plant to the valley is in Delta. The elephant isn't even in the same building and you are getting all worried about something that doesn't exist in this valley.

    As for blaming every disease on pollution, that is also a lie. According to CDC data, the state with the highest autism rate is Oregon, Utah doesn't even show up until you get to #27. As for infertility, where do you get that information. Everywhere I look we find that Utah has the highest fertility rates in the nation.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 5, 2014 3:27 p.m.

    Redshirt... um.... when you said "To "Spangs" actually in the Salt Lake Valley there are not any coal fired power plants."... you are kinda sorta way wrong. Rio Tinto operates 4 coal powered power generation units at Utah Smelter Power Plant. The good news is of the 4, 3 are being rebuilt to run on natural gas.... but number 4 is still planned to burn coal.

    Additionally, there is Desert Power Plant (92 mw) owned and operated by DQ Holdings LLC near Tooele. While technically in not Salt Lake valley, it sits upwind and very close to the valley.

    And we do need to be careful about nukes? While appropriate in some cases, to say they are without cost is a bit of a stretch. Just ask the 300,000 in Japan that had to abandon their homes because of Fukashima. Accidents are rare, but when they do happen, they have huge cost.

    That is why a balanced portfolio is so important.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    June 5, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    I wonder if Buffet and all the other smart, environmentalist investors would be betting all their own money on green energy projects if it wasn't highly subsidized by the taxpayer.

    Many new technologies require some public investment before they become economically feasible and ordinary people can afford them, but we have been subsidizing solar and wind projects for decades and they still don't pay for themselves.

    I would be happy to put a solar array on my roof if it didn't take 30 years to pay for itself in energy savings (and that is only if it doesn't break). Same with a windmill.

    I'm sure that someone will chime in with "..but oil is subsidized too..." but that is playing with the truth. Letting an oil company deduct equipment expenses on their tax forms is not the same thing as paying them to drill for oil. To liberals, taxing someone $10 instead of $20 is the same thing as giving $10 to someone who didn't earn it.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    June 5, 2014 5:25 p.m.

    Te sun is no good at all. I'm tired of the powerful solar cartel led by Al Gore that has us at their mercy. The rolling blackouts every 12 hours, the sunburns and hot pavement. Lord help us.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 5, 2014 6:58 p.m.

    Re: "What's the deal with today's conservatives and their bizarre mix of sound logic and hysterical hatred?"

    I can't speak for all conservatives, of course, but most of us don't believe it's bizarre logic to carefully and respectfully point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

    And, as for that Madison-envisioned compromise you seem so committed to -- where did you see any of that in Obama's new rule-by-uninformed-fiat energy policy?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 5, 2014 9:54 p.m.

    @procuradorfiscal – “And, as for that Madison-envisioned compromise you seem so committed to -- where did you see any of that in Obama's new rule-by-uninformed-fiat energy policy?”

    I understand partisan dislike and believe it or not actually think some level of this is good for the country – our critics are in some sense our best friends. But what we’ve seen with this president is often far beyond this. It’s a visceral hatred that seems unexplainable… well, maybe.

    I have never heard the tea party types ever once agree with anything Obama has proposed, even when he has wholesale co-opted a conservative idea (e.g., healthcare exchanges, stimulus tax cuts, renewal of Patriot Act, etc…).

    As far as Obama’s executive order, if Congress was willing to even acknowledge C02 is a problem, this may not have been unnecessary.

    But just to put Obama in perspective on his “rule-by-fiat,” the only president since Ford who has signed LESS executive orders than Obama is Bush Sr.

    Reagan signed more EO’s in his first term (213) than Obama has since taking office (168 as of 1/1/14).

  • Curt Conklin Provo, UT
    June 6, 2014 1:10 a.m.

    From your editorial, two quotes:

    "It simply makes sense for the energy industry in Utah, and in the nation as a whole, to put more effort and initiative to cultivating cleaner sources of energy."

    Then, a little further down:

    "Utah’s abundant reserves of shale oil and coal can continue to provide an environmentally acceptable burning of fossil fuels that will remain necessary."

    Aren't these two statements just a tad bit contradictory? I mean, precisely the reason why it "simply makes sense" to invest and develop "cleaner sources of energy" is because oil and coal are DIRTY! They harm us and every other living thing on the face of the earth, they pollute! How is is that oil shale and coal "provide "an environmentally acceptable" method of providing electricity and other forms of energy?

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    June 6, 2014 6:12 a.m.

    " . . . not demonize an energy industry that provides for society’s current and future needs . . ."

    It's not about demonizing anyone. It's about doing what works to best "promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

    Thoughtlessly and unnecessarily pumping tons of pollutants into the atmosphere and into our streams does NOT fulfill that goal.

    What is more demon-like than people out to enrich themselves in the short term at the expense of everyone in the long run?

    In the eyes of reasonable people, reactionaries who sneer at environmental concerns should be criticized for their unthinking, selfish, and contemptible behavior.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 6, 2014 6:34 a.m.

    "Obama's illegal and dictatorial allocation of energy misery has much, much less to do with sound economics "

    Allocation of energy misery? I am wondering what that might mean. Is that oil production has gone from about 5.8 million barrels a day in 2008 to a forecasted to just over 9 million a day in 2015- with the largest part of that being in the sweet crude range (API 35 or better)? Is that the misery we are all enduring?

    Or maybe its that in 2008 contracts for natural gas came in at $11.31 per million BTU, and not that rate is at $4.62 per million BTU? Is that the misery you are referring to?

    Or is the problem that coal production in this country is actually up nearly 3 percent from last year... that what ever reductions we make, are offset by increased exports, swinging the balance of energy trade in our favor? Is that the misery you are referring to?

    procuradorfiscal - I am not sure it is the current administration that has no clothes... because I am respectfully having a hard time understanding this misery you describe. Prices down, production way up = misery?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    "Above all, what the energy policy debate needs most is a sound sense of balancing costs with benefits." I agree in principle, but energy policy must be long term and must reckon with global warming. Here we have substantial upfront costs, but with benefits sometimes long in the future. Economics has not developed the tools to deal with this challenge. Our present tools to do cost/benefit are not adequate to the task.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    June 6, 2014 12:33 p.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" I hate to break it to you but the Desert Power Plant was converted over to natural gas in 2002, and the coal plant shut doen. Kennecott is partially converted over to natural gas, and it is not clear how often or even if they fire up the coal power plants.

    As for Fukishima, the power plant was fine until they started it up just before the tsunami hit. It was the tsunami and mismanagement that killed it. A nuclear power plant in Utah would not have to worry about a tsunami.

    To "airnaut" Obama just happened to be president when the permits came up. They were started under Bush, and he has only given permits to 2 of the 19 nuclear plants waiting for approval.

    As for breeder reactors, what is the dangerous waste? The weapons grade plutonium can be put into reactors like the GE PRISM reactor that will convert it to energy. Anything else that is left over is no worse than what it takes to make the rods in the first place.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2014 1:18 p.m.

    Until solar gets refined additional nuclear power capability is essential. There's a lot not to like about nuclear power, but to get off of fossil fuels there must be a transition technology and nuclear is it.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    June 7, 2014 6:17 p.m.

    RedShirt --

    Why are you trampling the Consitution --
    specifically Artilce 1, Section 8 --

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,.."

    Conservatives are notoriously anti-Science, let alone being pro-Useful arts...

    Why do you keep supporting Big Oil receiving $25 Billions annually in subsidizes in addition to their profits,

    And oppose research and development into new green, renewable energy?
    While this provision in the U.C. Constitution clearly allows for Congress to invest in new technologies?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    June 9, 2014 11:13 a.m.

    To "LDS Liberal" again, you are wrong about conservatives. According to Yale University the Tea Party affiliated people know science better than your ilk does.

    As for subsidies, your number is wrong. According to CNN, the Oil industry received $2.5 billion, while the green power people got $21.5. See "Energy subsidies total $24 billion, most to renewables" So, if $2.5 billion is bad for oil companies, then the $21.5 billion for green power should be much worse. Which is it? Are subsidies bad or are they good? The power you support gets more in subsidies while producing only a fraction of the energy in the US.

    Your quote from the constitution is missing the critical portion. The whole clause states "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" That means that they are to provide for a Patent system, not a funding source.

    So again, try again to find anything in the Constitution that actually authorizes the US Government to engage in R&D.