Letter: Natural gas is not a renewable energy source

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To the editor,

It would appear that Peter Christianson is easily dumbfounded if he could not grasp the rather simple message I attempted to convey in my letter last week. In fact, he was so dumbfounded he forget to address the main reason for my letter, namely, how did a non-renewable fossil fuel like natural gas all of a sudden miraculously become a renewable energy source? It seems he was more interested in evasion and politics rather than facts.

Let me undertake the formidable challenge to un-dumbfound Mr. Christianson.

As to his comment, “Did you ever think of contacting the Connecticut Siting Council, the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, or other state agency for clarification?” The short answer is absolutely not. If I want scientific facts the last place I would turn would be the EPA, DEEP or the CT Siting Council. To say they are biased is an understatement. Instead, before writing my letter I went to the internet and researched the process for extracting hydrogen from natural gas and discovered that the process is indeed a chemical process as stated by Mr. Christianson. However, he conveniently left out, or perhaps was dumbfounded, to learn that the chemical process involves the use of considerable heat (roughly 900 degrees) to trigger the chemical reaction. That heat, Mr. Christianson, is generated by using non-renewable natural gas to power the process.

According to Alternative Energy, a website devoted to this subject, and certainly no friend of fossil fuel, here is their direct quote for how hydrogen is produced from natural gas, “The most cost-efficient method currently employed in the industrial manufacture of hydrogen is steam hydrocarbon reforming, where natural gas is treated with high temperature steam, causing a chemical breakdown of the natural gas releasing hydrogen.” I apologize for using all those big words which will undoubtedly cause more dumbfoundedness. Steam, created by heating natural gas by burning natural gas is how the chemical process is performed. Those are the simple facts.
As I asked in my letter, I would like an explanation from the folks proposing the plant to tell the public exactly how their process operates. I think the folks of Beacon Falls and surrounding areas have a right to know. The process and plant may well be a great one, but let’s put all the facts on the table.

Mr. Christianson also accused me of sarcasm in my questions. Did Mr. Christianson happen to notice the arrogant and insulting tone of his comments regarding my butting into Beacon Falls’ business? Nah, he was too dumbfounded to notice. Here is a sample from his letter, “I did notice that at one point in your letter you stated ‘we’ should take a long hard look at the proposed plant. I can assure you sir that the residents of Beacon Falls are more than intelligent and qualified enough to make decisions on their own without your assistance.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. And since when is a non-resident not allowed to comment on a Beacon Falls project?

Finally, why Mr. Christianson found it necessary to state he is a Republican, a former office holder and town committee member has me annoyed. What has politics got to do with this issue and why even bring it into the discussion? Could he be trying to establish his credentials as a scientist? Nah. Well, he certainly establishes himself as a politician with perhaps some obvious political gains by supporting the fuel cell project. Mr. Christianson, I am ashamed to admit I am a registered Republican. I consider myself a conservative and am appalled with the behavior of the Republican Party at the national and state levels.

In summary, I believe that both the proposed fuel cell plant and the Oxford plant have the potential to be far cleaner ways to generate electricity than many older plants, but let us not confuse ideology with science. Natural gas is not a renewable energy source, and never will be. Period.

George L. Sirois

Naugatuck