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December 12, 2007

Radio Goes BANANAs

-Patrick S Lasswell

My local radio station decided to freeze the poor this week. KINK radio broadcast their opinion regarding the ongoing plan to build Natural Gas facilities in and around Oregon. They decided that the best benefit to the public was to Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything, also known as BANANA. This is a safe opinion because those who risk nothing cannot be blamed for mishaps that don't happen. This attitude is in no small part responsible for our current energy dependence on the Middle East because exactly the same attitude is why no nuclear plants have been built in the US in the last twenty-five years.

In the guise of asking reasonable questions, they denounce the possibility of risk.

“Half-mile exclusion zones would be required around the ships. Why have them if the ships are so safe? Those zones also would negatively impact fisheries and tourism.”

A boatload of explosively formed projectiles travels a half mile in one minute at thirty knots. Because there are terrorists in the world who have the methods and motives to damage us, it is our responsibility to deny them the opportunities. While I doubt that such attacks would be the massive conflagration that terrorists and those who live in fear of them imagine; by making the attacks harder, we make them less frequent.

The inconvenience to the wealthy of building our national infrastructure is a harder sell. Energy costs in the US are exceptionally high for a variety of reasons, including that it is almost impossible to build large commercial energy plants here. The problem is that the wealthy make it more expensive for the poor by supporting bad land use policy. With more energy plants and the energy use flexibility they provide, power can be provided at lower cost. The freezing poor and elderly need this plant more than the tourists and fishermen need an unobstructed Columbia.

Anything worth having comes with costs and risks. I know for a fact from listening to involved parties that the pipelines these plants require will damage the environment. The companies involved are going to settle this in court afterwards because it is so much cheaper than involving the natural resources organizations. Endless retribution is easier than endless delays, and once the plant is built they can afford to repair the damage. This is the only antidote to BANANA that the power companies have found. Is this the result that the environmentalists were looking for?

“Where will the gas come from originally? Some is likely to be imported from overseas. The biggest natural gas reserves in the world are in the Middle East--especially Iran--and Russia. Do we want to hitch Oregon's economy to Iran and Russia?”

The natural gas will come from the market. When Iran and Russia withhold their resources, the market price will rise and we will find alternatives, unless everybody takes KINK's attitude and we lock ourselves off from other power sources. These plants will provide us with opportunities and choices, stopping them will leave us with fewer choices, not more.

“Meanwhile oil companies drilling in Alaska are coming up with huge amounts of natural gas as a byproduct and are pumping it back in the ground. A proposed pipeline from Alaska to the Midwest would indirectly help insure the Northwest's supply of natural gas for many decades.”

Didn't they just say that we were getting our gas from Russia and Iran? I looked at the map and between Alaska and Ohio is an entirely different country. If it is bad to depend on foreigners for our energy, why are we giving control away to a bunch of politicians in Ottawa? A Canadian pipeline is of little benefit to Oregon. Not having a refinery in Oregon costs us extra for gasoline, why would gas going 2,000 miles away improve our energy solutions?

Oregon's industries depend on inexpensive power. Our access to the Bonneville and other Columbia River dams has allowed us to host multi-billion dollar semiconductor factories that provide tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. Cutting us off from additional sources of inexpensive power is bad policy and a bad idea. It will hurt the poor and it will hurt our industries. The people at KINK need to stop selling bad BANANAs.

UPDATE: Thanks to Hot Air for the link. Please feel free to check earlier posts where I hold this same radio station's feet to the fire.


Apologies for the bad link, here is the correct link.

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/11/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Well, it's usually worse than BANANA, it's just plain BAN - build absolutely nothing. Permitting new coal plants is practically impossible - but that's OK, we have gas right? But LNG terminals are being stopped too, but that's ok, we have dams. But dams hurt the salmon and some are being demolished. Well, there's always wind, right? But major wind projects in Massachusetts and Texas are being canceled or challenged because of the view, or the noise, or the birds. Without proposing a viable alternative, protesting new construction only serves to ration a dwindling supply at higher prices.

Meanwhile - China built 80GW of coal-fired power this year - the equivalent of three huge 500MW stations per week. They'll be happy to use whatever LNG we don't without caring where it comes from.

I saw some of your very thoughtful and well informed commentary over at Totten's blog regarding al Qaeda in Iraq pre invasion. I've talked to a lot of people in the know on this and documented some of these people's comments at and would love to chat with you some time about this if you can spare a few minutes. I'd really appreciate it if you can email me.


Two points:

1) Re Do we want to hitch Oregon's economy to Iran and Russia?”

Oregon has an economy now? It didn't back when I was living there, it's a big part of the reason I left...

2) I am not even slightly concerned about what the politicians in Ottawa might decide to do. Regardless of the rhetoric or who is in charge up there, they understand very clearly that friendly relations with the US are a very good thing for Canada.

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