The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

Plenty of natural gas, but not enough pipelines

Saturday, March 1, 2014
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Plenty of natural gas, but not enough pipelines

The United States is awash in natural gas. At 80 billion cubic feet per day, we’ve never produced more (although New York’s development sits idle). Natural gas is part of our cleaner-burning energy future as our country mothballs coal-fired power plants and shuts down nuclear reactors. And yet, a traditional Northeast cold winter has created chaos, with high demand for natural gas and price increases. Why?

The problem is that despite the thousands of miles of gas pipelines crisscrossing the country, there just aren’t enough of them going to the places that need it most. As a nation, we have stupidly turned our back on coal, which is down from 50 percent to 35 percent of our electricity supply from just five years ago.

Reducing carbon dioxide is fine if there are sufficient alternative sources of energy that can be placed on line quickly without people freezing to death in their homes or paying through the nose for heat and electricity. We need to build large-scale replacement power generation. Wind and solar are not scalable enough to be the answer due to their intermittent nature. We need thousands of megawatts of replacement baseload power using a combination natural gas, nuclear power, coal, and renewables.

Despite the NIMBY [not in my backyard] attitude out there, we need to realize that power plants’ use of natural gas has jumped, from producing 30 percent of our electricity in 2001 to 52 percent today, without a single new natural gas pipeline being built.

If you want heat and lights for your home, we need to change our attitudes or it could get worse next winter.

Dave Rakvica

Mayfield

Don’t let people walk in the street

As many great things and resources as the city of Schenectady offers, it also suffers from some common problems. A huge one for me is people walking in the streets. And not just to avoid bad sidewalks or imminent danger, but walking in the middle of the street as if they are traffic. It includes a lot of young people, but I see grown men and womendoing the same thing.

This causes dangerous situations and reflects an attitude of not caring for the whole city! I don’t think we should go quite as far as stop-and-frisk in New York City, and definitely have to be aware of racial profiling issues which may follow.

In Troy sometime back, I remember them issuing a no spitting in public ordinance. I believe something has to be done to dissuade people from continuing this behavior and putting the public in danger.

Edward Overton

Schenectady

More data needed on college for prisoners

My guess is that many people share Don Cooper’s negative feelings about free tuition for incarcerated people, as expressed in his Feb. 23 letter. Because this is such an emotional issue for many people struggling to finance their children’s education, we really need clear, fact-based thinking.

The idea that New York state would provide tuition for prisoners, instead of our children, is innately offensive and seems outrageous. That, however, is neither the intention nor the projected outcome of this proposal. In fact, the goal would be quite the opposite.

By reducing the enormous cost of incarceration, $60,000 per year per inmate, millions of dollars would be saved — which could be used for tuition assistance for our students. Perhaps this proposal would be far more palatable if it contained an addendum, i.e. all savings realized from reduced incarcerations must be used for college tuition assistance for our kids. This would change the paradigm of the proposal completely, and parents might see it much differently.

The two real problems with this proposal are 1) the desired savings are long-range, not immediate, which is a difficult sell and 2) there is no concrete data projecting the actual reduction in recidivism resulting from educating prisoners.

If, for example, 1,000 fewer college-educated prisoners were reincarcerated annually, that would be a savings of $6o million. If only 100 fewer prisoners were reincarcerated, the savings would be $6 million. We simply do not know the numbers now.

Vince Dacquisto

Niskayuna

Correction

In the original version of Vince Dacquisto's letter above, we managed to turn his $60 million in savings into $6 billion. We regret the error.

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