Train Carrying Oil Derails, Creates Massive Disaster

A train carrying more than a hundred tankers full of crude oil has derailed in West Virginia, sparking a massive fire and spilling untold amounts of oil into a river that provides drinking water for local communities. And there’s a big winter storm coming that will complicate the cleanup immensely.

Crude oil is pouring into a river that supplies drinking water and approximately 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes due to an oil train derailment and explosion in southern West Virginia on Monday, according to media reports.

The train, owned by CSX Corp., was carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota when it derailed at about 1:30 p.m., the L.A. Timesreported. Officials estimated that approximately 14 of those tankers were involved in the derailment and subsequent fire, which as of 9 p.m. was still raging. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency at around 5:40 p.m.

One home has so far been confirmed destroyed, and at least one person has been sent to the hospital for inhaling smoke. CSX put out a statement Monday night saying it would provide hotel rooms for displaced residents.

Concerns have also been raised about the potential contamination of local water-treatment facilities, after officials noted that at least one of the derailed tanker cars fell into the Kanawha River. The area is about 30 miles from the location where 10,000 gallons of a coal industry chemical called crude MCHM spilled and tainted the drinking water supply a little over one year ago.

Response efforts have so far been hampered by heavy snow. The area has been under a winter storm warning, according to the Associated Press, and is expected to get anywhere from 5 to 10 inches of snow tonight.

You know what has never happened in the entire history of the world? A huge spill of solar energy that destroyed the ecosystem. It’s time for a massive Tennessee Valley Authority-level project to advance solar and wind power to develop the next generation of renewable, non-fossil fuel energy production. But doing that would require taking away the ability of the oil, gas and coal interests to buy elections and politicians.

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  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    AHA! This is more proof we need MORE pipelines. More Keystone XLs. Even XXLs!!

    Clearly it is the TRAINS (not the oil) that is the danger!!!

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    You know what has never happened in the entire history of the world? A huge spill of solar energy that destroyed the ecosystem.

    Sure, but on the other hand, solar powered lasered on secret island lairs run by Bond villains. Can we really take that kind of chance? I think not.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Don’t laugh, I’m surprised the Keystone XL advocates aren’t already saying this, to both the media and the President.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    I live 3 blocks from a big and very busy rail yard in North Dakota. The countless oil tankers staged there look like rolling bombs to me. I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time.

  • busterggi

    If only Dagny…

  • scienceavenger

    @3 and @1 They are.

  • raven

    Look on the bright side.

    They are used to man made disasters by now.

    Wasn’t it a year ago, that there was a massive spill of a toxic chemical into a river that supplies drinking water to a large area?

    Besides which, their elected officials know what to do. The magic Invisible Hand of the Free Market will clean up all that oil and put the fires out. All they have to do is make an offering to St. Rand by cutting taxes some more.

  • laurentweppe

    You know what has never happened in the entire history of the world? A huge spill of solar energy that destroyed the ecosystem

    Just give the Sun 500 million years or so and you’ll get it

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Just give the Sun 500 million years or so and you’ll get it

    And if there are still white people to witness it, at least one of them (probably one of Lance’s great-great-grandkids) will be sure to blame it on Obama. If you think people are saying crazy shit about him now, just think of how such boogeyman myths could grow in 500 generations, let alone 500 eons.

  • whheydt

    There are reports that shipments of Bakken oil have stopped, ostensibly because of the current low oil prices.

    As for solar… Yeah…no “solar spills” causing ecological disasters. However, electronics manufacturing–such as semiconductor fabrication–has caused local groundwater contamination near plants, so solar has issues as well.

    I doubt that there is any truly “clean” resource extraction method for anything. Some are better than others. Some companies are more responsible than others, but so long as we aren’t all living as hunter-gatherers (and maybe even then…) getting what we need to live is going to adversely impact the environment.

  • suttkus

    Thanks to the weakened ozone layer, we’re experiencing a huge solar energy spill every day. You just don’t notice it.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    You know what has never happened in the entire history of the world? A huge spill of solar energy that destroyed the ecosystem.

    Just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just because the pollution isn’t from one big spill doesn’t mean it’s not there. Solar is far from pollution free.

    Next gen breeder nuclear reactors are the best option in terms of safety, pollution and CO2 impact, sustainability, and money cost. Go nuclear!

  • colnago80

    Re EnlightenmentLiberal @ #12

    As I recall, breeder reactors produce Pu(239), one of the most poisonous substances known to man, in addition to being used for producing nuclear weapons. Producing a dangerous substance like this makes perfect sense. What could go wrong?

  • Georgia Sam

    I understand the rail cars involved in this disaster are the new reinforced tankers, which are supposed to be safer than the older types that have been involved in other explosions & fires. Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    Pollution in streams that supply drinking water, a barren landscape resembling a dead planet, raging chemical fires and massive environmental disaster?

    Wouldn’t this just be considered a normal day in West Va.?

  • D. C. Sessions

    I understand the rail cars involved in this disaster are the new reinforced tankers, which are supposed to be safer than the older types that have been involved in other explosions & fires.

    Much safer. Only 14 of them ruptured instead of all of them. Unfortunately, the rest still caught fire etc.

  • erichoug

    Yes, I’m sure you’ve all given up your gasoline engines, and that you are all off the grid and getting your power through solar panels and a wind turbine out back, that you’ve all stopped using plastics and that your homes are heated solely through burning methane and hemp.

    Look, I know it pisses everyone off when I talk about this but the long and the short of it is that I work in industry and when I read some of the comments about the “ebil oyl and gass meanies” it just comes off as incredibly ignorant of the facts.

    So, first off, Solar is pretty much a niche source, it is pretty good for instrumentation level power(24VDC and lower) and that’s about it. It works fairly well on the LED traffic signals and the like but you are NEVER going to be able to go purely solar.

    Second, Wind simply hasn’t panned out. The big wind farms look cool but the just haven’t lived up to the hype. They are unreliable at times of high demand and there really isn’t a good way to store the power if you don’t need it. again, not a source to stop using, but it is NEVER going to supplant oil and gas.

    Aside from that, you have a few other niche sources like hydro power and geothermal all of these sources have their own issues. But the only realistic alternative is to go Nuclear. Nuclear power certainly COULD replace oil and gas but is that better?

    And YES, this train derailment absolutely, 100% does prove the need for a better pipeline. Are you telling me that you would rather have tar sands oil trucked right through the middle of your town ,on 100 year old technology, driven by a guy who barely graduated high school, than a brand new state of the art pipeline that is designed and routed to avoid the these issues.

    Oh, I know, I know we should just leave it in the ground. But, that isn’t going to happen. So, you will continue to get spills like this until you come to a mature decision and stop hurling 40 year old sound bites at the people who get you to work every day.

  • StevoR

    Awful news.

    (Which, btw, hasn’t been reported in our Aussie media here that I’ve heard /seen yet. Read it here first.)

    Hope its quickly cleaned up and made as right as possible – which likely won’t be very.

    As for alternative energy options I think there may be a lot good to be said for thorium reactors and the other less polluting and problematic variety discussed here :

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/01/17/should-we-try-thorium-reactors/

    If they can actually be developed as suggested there.

    @17. erichoug : As a matter of fact I walked to work and for my last job I used to cycle there. Of course I am atypical in that respect (among others!) and very lucky to be living close in enough to my place of employment but still.

  • StevoR

    ^ Continuing in response to erichoug :

    Oh, I know, I know we should just leave it in the ground. But, that isn’t going to happen. So, you will continue to get spills like this until you come to a mature decision and ..

    Switch to sources of energy that aren’t ultimately going to destroy our planetary ecosystems through inducing Global Overheating.

    Fossil fuels are non-renewable, we will eventually hit peak oil even if the prices right at this moment now don’t reflect that reality. Burning and releasing all the stored carbon dioxide and other gases has major undeniable negative effects and leads to escalating feedbacks which are having highly significant,dreadful impacts that in the long term are going to ruin all our futures.

    So either we do face that and take the already overly delayed actions required to wean ourselves off fossil fuels or we suffer and end up doing ourselves and the rest of the planet more damage than we can possibly appreciate right now.

    You, erichoug, seem to be arguing for inaction and ignoring scientific reality because its all too hard.

  • caseloweraz

    Erichoug: Yes, I’m sure you’ve all given up your gasoline engines, and that you are all off the grid and getting your power through solar panels and a wind turbine out back, that you’ve all stopped using plastics and that your homes are heated solely through burning methane and hemp.

    Why is it that the only ones talking about stopping fossil-fuel use immediately are the ones who insist we can’t stop using those fuels ever? It’s a straw-man argument and you know it.

    First, I advocate the use of “Gen-IV” nuclear reactor designs as a part of our energy supply. Of course this will be expensive and will take some time to get going. But then, new fossil-fuel plants are expensive too. If the fossil-fuel industry were made to bear its true costs (externalities) and the oil-industry subsidy ($10-$11b/yr) were eliminated, nuclear (and renewables) would be more competitive. As for reactor development time, that could have been in the past. There’s no going back, of course; but if you look at the history you’ll see a lot of short-sighted choices. We don’t need to repeat them.

    I agree that renewables (defined as usual to mean solar, wind, geothermal, & hydro) can’t supply all our power. But they can be a bigger part than you suggest.

  • parasiteboy

    erichoug@17

    I can agree with you to a certain extent that we are not anywhere near the point of getting away from using fossil fuels. The sentiment of “ebil oyl and gass meanies” can come from the FF industries funding of Anthropogenic Global Warming Denialism and their perceived and at times actual push back against renewable energy (I know that they invest in it, like any good business they diversify and look to the future).

    ignorant of the facts.

    and then

    So, first off, Solar is pretty much a niche source, it is pretty good for instrumentation level power(24VDC and lower) and that’s about it.

    Wrong. There are places in the US, like Long Island, where you have solar panels on houses. When you are not using the power from solar the electricity goes back into the grid. You lower your electrical bill and the utility company does not have to produce as much power. But not all utility companies do this, which creates a disincentive for solar and other renewable resources of power.

    And YES, this train derailment absolutely, 100% does prove the need for a better pipeline.

    But that’s not what we are getting with a pipeline like the Keystone XL. Since you work in the industry, I’m sure you know that not all FF being pumped through a pipeline are the same and something like the tar sands oil has the problems of false pressure readings that may or may not be a leak. This contributes to the issue of leaks going unnoticed for an extended period of time. Personally, I would rather rail for these, then we at least know when something happens.

    Where I would agree with you again is that all renewable resources are niche resources, so you use what you can where you can. But as whheydt@10 points out there are issues with the creation of renewable resources like solar panels, which is another issue to consider.

    Storage of energy is where we have a major issue. But that is also a problem with using FF too. We don’t use all of the electricity that is produced or all of the energy that is put into the grid. AFAIK the FF industry is not working on any fixes for this, because as of right now there is no financial incentive. If I’m wrong, let me know.

    What I usually tell people about this subject is that the federal government should be the one to put up the money for basic research on these issues. Businesses won’t because it’s to risky to put up the capital for ideas that may not pan out. Once we have the basic research has produces results, businesses can then take the results to produce products that are competitive in the marketplace. There also may be a need for the government to put in place regulations to make clean(er) energy competitive with dirty(er) energy, but there are to may variables to make a blanket statement on how this is done.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Yes, I’m sure you’ve all given up your gasoline engines, and that you are all off the grid and getting your power through solar panels and a wind turbine out back, that you’ve all stopped using plastics and that your homes are heated solely through burning methane and hemp.

    As always, the pro-fossil-fuels fossils automatically respond to any form of criticism by turning the debate in to a culture war. Bashing straw-hippies doesn’t heat any homes, but for an industry mired in sunk-capital problems, it’s a necessary means of distraction from issues they can’t afford to face.

    Look, I know it pisses everyone off when I talk about this…

    Ever ask yourself WHY this is so? Did you ever think of changing your schtick so you’d be more credible and piss of less people?

    …but the long and the short of it is that I work in industry and when I read some of the comments about the “ebil oyl and gass meanies” it just comes off as incredibly ignorant of the facts.

    And here we go with the fossils’ other talking-point: “People in the industry are, by definition, the only people who know anything, and everyone else are just emotional sissies.” Sometimes with extra doses of “Industry is manly and rational and strong, industry’s critics are weak, emotional, querulous nagging women.”

    So what “facts” are we blind to because we’re too busy reading about the facts of the latest fossil-fuel disaster?

    So, first off, Solar is pretty much a niche source…

    Funny thing — solar power almost invariably proves itself more viable than the fossil-fuels naysayers say it is; and it gets still more viable every year.

    Second, Wind simply hasn’t panned out…

    “Hasn’t?” It’s all in the past? That’s bullshit — use of wind power is expanding every year.

    So yeah, the oil lobby’s manly command of the “facts” is nothing more than blustering, patronizing bullshit.

    …a brand new state of the art pipeline that is designed and routed to avoid the these issues

    That’s kind of begging the question. Are the pipelines really designed and routed to avoid such issues? This is the oil industry we’re talking about — they never tried to avoid such issues in the past, so why should we trust them to start now?

    As for nuclear power, I’m all in favor of a new generation of thorium plants — as long as they’re designed, built and run by the US government, and not by the same breed of businessmen who mismanaged every other energy source they touched.

  • erichoug

    Switch to sources of energy that aren’t ultimately going to destroy our planetary ecosystems through inducing Global Overheating.

    Sources like? No seriously, what would we switch to? Where are you going to get the kW? There is literally no alternative source that could completely replace fossil fuels completely right now. And what happens when the world population grows to 10 and 20 billion, what then?

  • erichoug

    Parasite boy @21

    Since you work in the industry, I’m sure you know that not all FF being pumped through a pipeline are the same and something like the tar sands oil has the problems of false pressure readings that may or may not be a leak.

    What!? What the fuck are you even talking about? Maybe you should present a white paper at the next PCIC on how the, literally, thousands of PhDs and PEs who work in the oil and gas industry are so dumb that some random English major on the internet knows more about pipelines and tar sands oil than they do.

    BTW, you what absolutely can’t tell you when it’s leaking? A fucking train.

  • parasiteboy

    erichoug@24

    Thanks for your response, it will be a great example of “how not to respond to criticism” the next time I teach a scientific communication class.

    1) Internal contradiction in your response (you don’t know what I’m talking about, but you know I’ll talk about about pipelines and tar sands oil (and pressure problems)

    2) Appeal to authority without a single source to back up your claim (but there’s literally thousands)

    3) Ad hominen (sorry english majors you are collateral damage in this)

    What I was talking about, is the issue of leaks vs. normal operating issues with tar sand oil pipelines. Here’s a section from a joint report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Pipeline Safety Trust, and the Sierra Club That talks about the Kalamazoo River spill that Ed posted about a while back.

    Leaks in DilBit pipelines are often difficult to detect. As stated above, as DilBit flows through a pipeline, pressure changes within the pipeline can cause the natural gas liquid condensate component to move from liquid to gas phase. This forms a gas bubble that can impede the flow of oil. Because this phenomenon—known as column separation—presents many of the same signs as a leak to pipeline operators, real leaks may go unnoticed. Because the proper response to column separation is to pump more oil through the pipeline, misdiagnoses can be devastating. During the Kalamazoo River spill, the Enbridge pipeline gushed for more than twelve hours before the pipeline was finally shut down, and initial investigation indicates that the pipeline’s monitoring data were interpreted to indicate a column separation rather than a leak. Ultimately, emergency responders were not notified until more than nineteen hours after the spill began.

    Rather that throwing a hissy fit, I’ll just ask you to clarify.

    BTW, you what absolutely can’t tell you when it’s leaking? A fucking train.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @colnago80

    As I recall, breeder reactors produce Pu(239), one of the most poisonous substances known to man, in addition to being used for producing nuclear weapons. Producing a dangerous substance like this makes perfect sense. What could go wrong?

    Uranium breeders do breed significant amounts of Pu 239. That’s primary what is bred. That’s the intermediary form of the fuel. With pyro recycling and the IFR, that produced Pu 239 is quickly fissioned (or otherwise transmuted) as fuel. In fact, the IFR might be able to help us destroy existing stockpiles of Pu 239 by using it as fuel.

    LFTR is a thorium breeder, and thus it breeds primary U 233. An inevitable consequence is that it will also produce a little bit of Pu 239, but on a far smaller scale, several magntitudes at least. Also like the IFR, the recycling process should put the Pu back into the reactor to be destroyed as fuel.

    Very little Pu will escape. Pu is the fuel. Letting Pu into the waste stream would be wasting perfectly good fuel. Breeders release far less Pu into the waste stream because they are designed with recycling technologies which conventional reactors do not have or use.

    @parasiteboy

    Wrong. There are places in the US, like Long Island, where you have solar panels on houses. When you are not using the power from solar the electricity goes back into the grid. You lower your electrical bill and the utility company does not have to produce as much power. But not all utility companies do this, which creates a disincentive for solar and other renewable resources of power.

    Absolutely horrible idea for a national policy, but a great idea as pork barrel spending, and a great way to take personal advantage at the cost to society.

    Grid management is hard. It’s already hard as is. You want to add a million independent unreliable generators to the grid? Frequency control would be impossible.

    Further, many of the existing laws requiring companies to buy back solar are effective subsidies, and huge at that. Normally, large scale players on the grid who provide reliable power can charge much more than unreliable power, precisely because reliable power is more expensive to produce. In some places at peak solar production, the solar electricity is actually worthless because it’s saturated the grid, but the law still requires the company to buy back this worthless electricity at “wholesale value”. And that’s with a country like Germany which has only IIRC 5% yearly average from solar. It’s only going to get worse.

    Third, efficiencies of scale. If we’re serious about solar, it’s still stupid to have a bunch of independent solar panels with independent maintenance on a small scale. By splitting it up like this, we’re basically guaranteeing that we’re going to get much less electricity for our dollar.

    Storage of energy is where we have a major issue. But that is also a problem with using FF too. We don’t use all of the electricity that is produced or all of the energy that is put into the grid. AFAIK the FF industry is not working on any fixes for this, because as of right now there is no financial incentive. If I’m wrong, let me know.

    Energy storage is a major issue. Fossil fuels don’t have this problem anywhere near as much, because you can scale up a gas turbine, coal plant turbine, etc., to match load. Of course, a plant designed to load follow will be slightly more costly, but it’s in the same neighborhood. Of course, some niche technologies like pumped water energy storage work for some areas where the very high cost of pumped water storage happesn to be cost competitive with the cost of a load following gas plant.

    Whereas, the fundamental difference of wind and solar is that you cannot just throttle up solar and wind to match demand, which means they actually have a serious storage problem. For them to cover a large fraction of our electricity usage, we need massive energy storage on a scale that is basically impossible with existing technology. To give you an idea of the difficulty, see:

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

    What I usually tell people about this subject is that the federal government should be the one to put up the money for basic research on these issues.

    Completely agreed. I want research on everything.

    I also want the government to start building IFR and LFTR prototypes yesterday, and to start building out conventional nuclear plants like the AP 1000 like candy.

    @erichoug

    Sources like? No seriously, what would we switch to? Where are you going to get the kW? There is literally no alternative source that could completely replace fossil fuels completely right now. And what happens when the world population grows to 10 and 20 billion, what then?

    Nuclear can.

  • heddle

    laurentweppe,

    Just give the Sun 500 million years or so and you’ll get it

    Ha! Big Solar will never admit that!

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Absolutely horrible idea for a national policy, but a great idea as pork barrel spending, and a great way to take personal advantage at the cost to society.

    First you insist that something is a “horrible idea” after being told it WORKS. Then you cry about “taking personal advantage?” Yes, dumbfuck, we’re all trying to get a “personal advantage” out of cheaper, cleaner electricity. Why is that bad again?

    (Oh, and, nice dig against “pork barrel spending” — you sound just like Sarah Palin complaining about life-saving biological research funded by taxpayers.)

    Grid management is hard. It’s already hard as is.

    And avoiding hard work is a central tenet of corporatarian ideology.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Ha! Big Solar will never admit that!

    Are you calling Ra a liar? Recant now, or your words will be weighed against you in the afterlife!

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Energy storage is a major issue. Fossil fuels don’t have this problem anywhere near as much, because you can scale up a gas turbine, coal plant turbine, etc., to match load.

    Yes and no. Yes, you can speed up a turbine by adding more fuel to the fire; but no, slowing down a turbine when poser consumption drops does not necessarily mean you’re burning less fuel — turning down the “fire” is a much slower process than turning down the speed of a turbine, so that’s a lot of wasted fuel there, in the form of extra heat that the turbine is effectively prevented from using.

  • abear

    It seems that Oil sands oil (dirty Canadian oil) seems to get all the attention from protesters for the carbon footprint it produces.

    It is my understanding that coal is far worse as far as carbon footprint goes. Where is the outrage at coal mining?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Where have you been, abear? There’s been plenty of outrage about coal mining, for several decades now. You’re not hearing any of it on this thread because it’s about an oil-tanker spill.

  • abear

    Raging Bee@32; I’m talking about what I see on the media. There seems to be a lot of pushback against the Oil Sands as well as natural gas fracking but seems to be little or no mention of coal.

    Possibly there is more attention paid in some local media but it seems to be a non issue on the federal scene.

  • parasiteboy

    EnlightenmentLiberal@26, as Raging Bee@28 points out, it was working on LI. At the time the policy was 1:1 for kW hour used vs. kW hour put back into the system. This was to encourage homeowners and businesses to get in sooner rather than later so they could make back their money quicker on the expense of buying the panels. It wasn’t going to stay that way, but initially it was 1:1 a few years ago.

    The other advantage of putting solar on existing structures is that you do not have to destroy additional natural habitats, which in a heavily developed area like LI this was very advantageous.

    As for the whole porkbarrel thing, it would depend on how things are implemented. Again on LI the homeowners/businesses where given tax breaks that they would get if they did other things to increase their efficiency, like more insulation, window upgrades, or efficient hot water on demand systems. If you consider that pork barrel then any tax break is pork. Now if you are talking about the Solyndra clusterfuck then I would agree. The government shouldn’t be betting on a horse (applied technology in the realm of business) but should be betting that a horse will win the race (funding the best basic research ideas).

    I am dumbfounded that a large part of your argument against large scale solar power is one in which you state that it did not work out as planned in x therefore it cannot work in y. Not only is this equivalency incorrect it is a very defeatist attitude.

    Also solar in and of it’s self will not be a “magic bullet” but only part of the solution. As Raging Bee@30 points out the electric companies already adjust their supply on expected or actual demand. They do this by using data on past usage for certain times of the year and things like current and short term weather conditions. These can also inform us on how much renewable energy can be put into the grid to LESSEN our use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

    For anyone interested in technologies that could be used to stabilize or cut CO2 output with current technologies (as of 2004) look up the paper Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies by Pacala and Socolow, Science 2004. There are several sites that you can download it from on google scholar. The Pearson book that I am using for my environmental science class (Essential Environment: The Science Behind the Stories, 5th Ed. by Withgott and Laposata 2012) states that if we implemented 7 out of the 15 solutions we would stabilize CO2 emission. Take it for what it’s worth, I’m not an expert, I’m just some random english major on the internet (See @25 to get the joke:)

  • parasiteboy

    I should add to my comment @34

    I am dumbfounded that a large part of your argument against large scale solar power is one in which you state that it did not work out as planned in x therefore it cannot work in y. Not only is this equivalency incorrect it is a very defeatist attitude.

    That I am not saying that we should do the same thing and expect a different outcome, but we should learn from any mistakes and improve by doing things differently.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Oops, my comment #30 should have said “power consumption,” not “poser consumption.” Although I have to say I’d happily support large-scale use of turbines that consume posers. As long as they burn clean, consuming them would make the world (or at least the online world) a better place.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    BTW, you [know] what absolutely can’t tell you when it’s leaking? A fucking train.

    Actually, train cars can rather easily be inspected for leaks or other damage just before they start moving, and wherever the train may stop on its way to its final destination. That’s not much, but it’s certainly easier than monitoring the entire length of a pipeline 24/7.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The government shouldn’t be betting on a horse (applied technology in the realm of business) but should be betting that a horse will win the race (funding the best basic research ideas).

    First, your simile needs work — what’s the difference here?

    And second, you kinda sound like Mutt Romney saying the government shouldn’t “pick winners and losers.” Guess what — government HAS to pick winners and losers, and does so every time it makes a procurement decision. If something needs to be done, then government has to make a choice of how best to do it. Refusing to do so is nothing but a reactionary catch-all argument against ANY government action.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @parasiteboy

    I disagree with the engineering merits of solar, especially rooftop solar. I believe with current tech it is largely a waste of time, and for that reason I call it pork barrel spending. We’re just handing money out to individual home owners and to solar companies for seemingly no good reason.

    I care about the 100% solution. That means I care about baseload power generation and load-following power generation. Whether we use solar has little impact on the shape of baseload power generation and load-following power generation precisely because solar by itself is unreliable and because the cost of electricity storage is so ridiculously high. Same thing for wind.

    I will review your specific sources and comment later. I might have already read them. I do hope that they provide actual numbers. Occasionally I run across studies like that which have done lots of numerical simulations, but they refuse to publish basic numbers, such as their assumed cost of a solar cell, the efficiency of a solar cell, etc., and that is irritating.

  • parasiteboy

    Raging Bee@38 I made the comment in the context of Solyndra (which has nothing to do with procurement), the horse the government bet on and lost, whereas if it put money into research (basic and applied) to make solar technology better (more efficient, cheaper, ect.) it will give industry tools to compete and consumers better options regardless of what horse is making them.

    EnlightenmentLiberal@39 be prepared to be disappointed. The science article does not go into detail. The whole point of it is to look at current technology to address the immediate threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming and not if the current technology is the best it can be.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @parasiteboy

    The whole point of it is to look at current technology to address the immediate threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming and not if the current technology is the best it can be.

    That sounds like exactly what I want, assuming it has numbers.

  • parasiteboy

    Raging Bee@38 One other thought before I have to leave the discussion for the weekend. I wouldn’t say that procurement is betting on any company like the Solyndra example in which it came out after the company failed it did not have a sustainable business model to compete. I agree that the government can use it’s purchasing power to help achieve goals like countries that have a single payer healthcare system and get drugs at lower cost. And I do think that the government can due things to help markets to achieve stated goals. In short, I am not an absolutist when it comes to government intervention, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it can be detrimental.