Some questions on America’s energy confusion.

I’m spending some time at the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. You all have known me long enough to realize I run away this time of year. When the concept of threatening snow in late April overwhelms me, it’s best to disappear. I will also confess I’ve been in the middle of the Sahara desert – yes that one in Africa – and had a better internet connection. I’m going to attempt to slide this post to my phone, plug that in, and let it churn until there’s enough of the 3G signal to get it live. (The things I do for you!)

Actually, I need you to do something for me. All of you blessed with a viable connection and curious enough about the subject to explore, do the research I would have done.

Here’s the story:

I walk the beach every morning and again in the evening. The evening is fun because at dusk you can start seeing the twinkling lights from the oil drilling platforms a couple of miles out. I counted more than twenty a couple of days ago. Someone is definitely drilling in the Gulf.

The other thing I noticed a couple of nights ago was a burning stack. It was a big orange fireball at the top of a long pipe floating in the middle of the water. In Brookfield you might have seen something similar driving by the landfill next to the subdivision The Shire. That one burns off something that comes from somewhere that some people swear can’t possibly exist near that site, and it creates quite a flame. A hot flame. It creates, in fact, a lot of energy.

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to tour the S.C. Johnson facility where some of that stuff that doesn’t possibly exist 😉 is coming out of a landfill and used to power part of the company’s production facility. That’s a clever use for the energy. It is also good public relations considering the company makes a bazillion little plastic baggies that end up in landfills, but is it cost efficient? That’s the missing piece I don’t have.

When I was growing up we lived in an oil refining town. A big flare would burn there too at different times. You could see it light up the sky from clear across town. Even at sixteen I remember thinking it was silly to waste so much energy.

Ok, I’ve meandered long enough to make my point. When America claims to want an “all of the above” energy policy, it’s a lie. What America really wants is a cost efficient energy policy in the proper balance to satisfy our consumption.

All of the above would include the concept of judicious consumption. I’ve never understood why I’d want to pimp my honker SUV as a right when I can get a gallon of milk in my 50 cc scooter, or even, gasp, walk! I’m not green because I think it’s a superior intellectual concept. If you’ve read here very long you know I’m green because it’s good for my wallet.

All of the above would also include capturing the energy from gas flares and using it for other production. S.C. Johnson does it so the technology has to exist. Is it not cost effective or are we just being lazy as a country? Is it that expensive to harness something like a controlled flare?

My bottom line: Neither side of the political divide should pitch an energy plan to me unless they are first willing
to defend all we waste. Acting stupidly has put America in rut. It’s time to ask questions instead of ignoring the

What are we missing when we talk energy?