Another New Plant

How about some good news, especially for Americans, but also for those who like freedom, and who might even like cheap energy. President Trump spoke last week at the new Royal Dutch Shell’s Pennsylvania Petrochemical Complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania. If I understand what is going on here, Shell will buy (pretty cheap) ethane from the oil fields in the area (mostly fracked fields). And then they turn it into polyethylene which is the base for many of the plastics we use for so much. Shell says this about it…

“From the phone in your pocket to the pillow you sleep on, the essentials of everyday life depend on the raw chemicals that go to make them. As global population and incomes rise, one giant chemicals plant has found ways to step up production to meet growing demand for these items.”

And that’s an American plant – in Beaver County Pennsylvania – which has been depressed ever since the steel mills closed, is now roaring back. It’s about time, and while the plan preceded the Trump administration, the confidence, and the regulatory red tape cutting, without causing environmental damage, to bring it online is down to the Trump administration.

Master Resource did a good job of excerpting the speech, here’s part of that.

  • And when the wind stops blowing, it doesn’t make any difference, does it? Unlike those big windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds. Someday, the environmentalists are going to tell us what’s going on with that.
  • And then, all of a sudden, it stops; the wind and the televisions go off. And your wives and husbands say, “Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight.” “But the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch. There’s no electricity in the house, darling.” No, we love natural gas and we love a lot of other things, too….

Or the wind blows too hard, as the United Kingdom found out last week when a steam plant went offline without warning and the grid could not maintain frequency control, and tripped off, leaving much of England in the dark. At least, this time, it was in the summer, might be more significant when it happens in the winter, and it will. To continue:

  • With your help, we’re not only unleashing American energy, we’re restoring the glory of American manufacturing, and we are reclaiming our noble heritage as a nation of builders again. A nation of builders.
  • When completed, this facility will transform abundant natural gas — and we have a lot of it — fracked from Pennsylvania wells, which they never would have allowed you to take if I weren’t President. If my opponent won … I guess you would have stopped long ago….
  • But I was talking to Gretchen [Watkins of Shell North America]. They would have never gotten the approvals to do what’s needed to fuel these plants. That wouldn’t have been good. So, probably, they wouldn’t have started. But if they would have started, it would have stopped.
  • But they put it into plastic through a process known as “cracking.” That raw material will then be shipped all over the country and all over the world to be fashioned into more products stamped with that very beautiful phrase: “Made in the USA.” … Beautiful. […]
  • Pennsylvania miners. Do we love our miners? (Applause.) They lit up our towns and powered our industries. And Pennsylvania factory workers made the American brand into the universal symbol of excellence all around the world — all over. [,,,]
  • With your help, we’re not only unleashing American energy, we’re restoring the glory of American manufacturing, and we are reclaiming our noble heritage as a nation of builders again. A nation of builders. […]
  • And other radical plans to wipe out our coal. That’s what they want. They want to wipe out our oil. They want to wipe out our natural gas industries, while allowing other countries to steal our jobs.
  • Virtually every leading Democrat has vowed to eliminate fossil fuels, obliterating millions of American jobs, devastating communities, and bankrupting factories, families, and senior citizens all across this region.
  • And, by the way, this is only fuel that has the power for plants. When you have to steam up and you have to fuel up on these giant plants, these giant generators, these giant electrical factories, you need what you’re doing. You need this. It’s got the power. The other doesn’t have the power; certainly not yet. Probably never will. […]
  • And that’s why we’re pursuing a future not only of energy independence — but not just words. You know, you’ve been hearing “energy independence” for years and years, and you’d hear it. We have real independence. But what we want now is not independence; we want American energy dominance. Dominance

There’s quite a bit more, even in excerpts at the linked article. But the story is one we have said before, America is back, Jack, and again it’s wearing its seven league steel-toed boots.

Great for us and its good for the world too, as should be obvious to all

Here is the video of the speech.

Pumping Corn

Geoffrey Norman over at American Spectator has some corny ideas on his mind. Let’s take a look.

There was a time — and not so long ago — when America’s leaders would say that we were “addicted to oil,” and warn us that we could not “drill our way out of this.” This turned out to be a) simpleminded, b) patronizing, and c) wrong.

Pretty much par for the course, then.

So of course the solutions for meeting the crisis, as prescribed by our political class, were either ineffectual or just wrong as both science and economics. The politics, though, were another thing.

One proposed remedy that we were promised would help us avoid an energy crisis severe enough to crush the economy was… burn corn, not oil.

American farmers have no trouble growing things. Never have. They are famously hardworking, resourceful, and innovative. We don’t have food scarcity in America. We have surpluses. American agriculture inspired an industry of farm equipment and machinery that is supreme in the world. John Deere. New Holland. Massey Ferguson.

So it seemed simple enough to replace the oil we couldn’t extract from the ground with a bi-product of the things we could make grow out of it. That would be ethanol. And Americans surely did know how to make that. They had been doing it right from the nation’s beginning, turning American corn into American bourbon. Mostly legal. Sometimes not. In which case it was called moonshine, the scientific and boring name for which is “ethanol.”

It also works with the internal combustion engine. The car you drive burns the stuff. So do your lawnmower, chainsaw, and outboard. With less satisfactory results. Ethanol is not generally kind to two stroke engines. A small engine mechanic I know says the stuff doesn’t just keep him in business. It pays for his vacations. […]

So refiners were now obligated, by law, to add ethanol to the gasoline they produced and that was generally available at the pump. American drivers had no choice but to buy it and burn it. American farmers predictably began planting corn, fencerow to fencerow, as far as the eye could see. After all, they had a market that was guaranteed by the government.

Instead of “If you build it, they will come,” it was “If you grow it, they will blend.”

Meanwhile, the petroleum industry had decided it would not simply lie down and die and was saying, “Peak oil, my butt. You think we can’t drill our way out of this? Here, hold my beer and watch.”

America soon became the world’s largest producer of crude. Where we had once been obliged to bow down to “our good friends” the Saudis to be sure of those millions of barrels of imported crude, we were now exporting the stuff.

We are blessed with an abundance of both ethanol and crude oil.

Good news, right?

A situation where markets could do their magic.

Well…

The thing is, those farmers who had gone all in on corn for ethanol — and the refiners who had built an industry to service them — were now a political dependency and they were not going down without a fight. Mandated ethanol was, to them, a matter of first, prosperity, and then, survival. Instead of doing away with the requirement, they wanted to strengthen it. Their instrument would be government, in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is positioned to raise the allowable percentage of ethanol in gasoline. From ten to fifteen.

Keep reading Corn at the Pump. He’s completely correct of course. It also highlights something else Americans have become amazingly good at growing: special interests.

Farmers since at least the civil war have been a vociferous special interest, heck nearly every state has a university founded to help them, but they’ve helped a lot of things, and it’s thanks to our farmers that we have gone from World War II where a considerable number of recruits were malnourished to where a majority of us are overweight. I happen to think that’s a better problem to have.

But the ethanol thing, while we laugh about it because it is silly, is really stupid. We’re using a fair percentage of our corn, which could be feeding people, to run our cars, here in the country that is the largest producer of oil in the world.

Huh? Yeah, doesn’t make much sense, does it? Talk about first world problems.

Keystone Update

Truck Hauling 36-Inch Pipe To Build Keystone X...

Image via Wikipedia

As we have noted before the Keystone XL pipeline which will run from Canada to Texas has overwhelming support. It will provide lower cost oil (from the Canadian Oils Sands) and increase our security.

I suppose we should note in passing that in Montana they are also building a rail car loading facility to handle part of the Bakken field that has North Dakota booming. (more here)

Anyway the Watermelons (you know: Green on the outside and red on the inside) are filing another frivolous lawsuit to try to stop the pipeline. This time they’re excited because investigations are being done to make sure find and relocate the American burrowing beetle (don’t ask me, I’ve never seen one either) from under the pipeline route.

As part of this they are mowing the grass; the group, which includes; The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Nebraska Resources Council and Friends of the Earth, has filed suit to stop them.

Ben Howe at RedState has the story:

Environmentalists are up in arms and going to court to try to prevent the mowing of grass taking place around the future site of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an oil pipeline connecting Alberta, Canada with Gulf Coast refineries.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Nebraska Resources Council and Friends of the Earth have filed a lawsuit making the charge that the mowing of grass along the proposed route is really the beginning of construction.

“It’s outrageous that TransCanada is already clearing the way for the Keystone XL pipeline before the public has had a chance to have its say and, indeed, before federal agencies have even said it can be built,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It looks like the fix is in on this dangerous project, and the sham public process is nothing more than an afterthought.”

In actuality, the mowing is an effort to find and relocate the American burying beetle from burrowing below where the pipeline is proposed to be built.  Something you’d think the environmentalist whackos would be happy was being done.

But it’s not really about the beetle or the grass.  This is simply a stalling technique, and one that the Center for Biological Diversity is well accustomed to.

Continue Reading

Isn’t that special?

With the Mid east blowing up and all the other problems we have they still want to stop anything that might have to do with safe domestic power if it is derived from fossil fuels instead of their precious, completely inadequate, so-called renewables.

Personally, I don’t think we can afford the watermelons, any more. Western Civilization was built on using mechanical energy instead of animal (including human) energy, and they are trying their best to undo the Industrial revolution. But, of course, only for us peons, not for them.

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