The Edmond Sun

July 12, 2013

LETTER: Reader disputes columnist’s energy logic

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — To the Editor:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I try to consider this as I read the Guest Opinion, published in Saturday’s issue, written by Lt. Col. Steve Russell (“Eco-warriors use unsound logic,” July 6, 2013, The Edmond Sun). He states that wind-powered electrical generators are but “an abysmal eye sore,” and laughs off its current percentage of total energy production. His disdain of what he calls “eco-warriors” and their advocacy of renewable energy systems is obvious. Therefore should I assume he sees beauty in coal mines and coal powered plants surrounded by giant piles of black, spewing poisons into the air? Maybe his eye beholds the beauty of an oil refinery, or one of many oil spills, such as the recent one caused by a train derailment destroying a small town in Quebec and killing multiple people. But he must really have to squint to see the beauty of a massive open pit tar sands mine, such as the ones in Alberta, that will supply the Keystone pipeline he advocates.

To me, efficiency is beauty; like a wind-powered generator producing electricity cleanly and safely. The new generation of solar collectors, most developed by China and Japan, produce electricity with no moving parts or waste: Now that’s beautiful.

He incorrectly asserts that “unsound logic” is used by clean energy proponents. Yet he uses unsound logic when comparing wind generated power to crude and tar sand oil. One directly produces electricity and the other produces fuel primarily to power our motor vehicles. The Keystone XL pipeline will have zero effect on the price and availability of electricity. Fact is, the world is developing and converting our motor vehicles to run on electricity; no one is converting our home air conditioners and lights to run on oil. Electricity produced by wind and solar is the future. Oil as a source of power is found mainly in the halls of government where money from big oil and energy companies is the only thing keeping this dying source alive.

If we Americans are really serious about our vulnerability to foreign oil supplies, we would take the most effective course of action; drastically reduce our consumption of oil. This course is never mentioned by Lt. Col. Russell. Instead he uses the same old misleading statements used for decades by the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries. They degrade anyone who using sound logic and facts to offer alternates to those sources of energy.

Speaking of facts, the average “energy returned on investment,” or EROI, for conventional oil is 25:1. For tar sands oil this ratio is 2.9:1, meaning one unit of natural gas is required to create less than 3 units of energy. Some estimate that the ratio is closer to 1:1, when transportation, environmental costs and end use efficiency is taken into account. So energy from tar sands is only efficient if you make money from its production.

The lieutenant colonel is free to use any logic he chooses to behold beauty in anything he sees. In the meantime the rest of the world will see the beauty of sound logic, based on facts, to inspire the transition to renewable clean domestic sources of energy, all while drastically reducing the number of our soldiers sent into harm’s way to defend foreign energy sources.


Danny Smith