Open letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump
Dear President-elect Donald J. Trump,
This letter might be a little odd for you as I am not an American citizen – neither am I a resident of the United States. I live in Europe. However, the problems afflicting this planet are bigger than just one nation can hope to resolve. The United States of America – though – have the size, the economic weight, and the requisite fundamental ingredients for a possible solution to be an important bellwether for humanity.
But first, please allow me to chime into the chorus of millions congratulating you on the astonishing victory in the 2016 presidential election. The next 4 years – possibly 8 years – will be a time when you will have a unique opportunity to shape American life. I say this being fully aware of the recount in 3 states as I don’t expect any change to the fundamental outcome of the election. So, as the US is the leading nation on earth you will also have a stab at giving the world a jolt – in the right direction as I and many others hope.
Let’s come clean on an important clarification. Years ago, I wrote to your predecessor as President of the United States, Barack H. Obama. At the time, I was worried that President Obama might block Shale Gas developments that had just gained serious momentum. I was afraid, that Mr. Obama might kill the still fragile plant that Shale Gas was in those infant years.
I am happy to find that President Obama did not outright trample Shale Gas. However, he very clearly showed a strong bias for wind and solar plus e-mobility on subsidies. Those are all options with certain merits and drawbacks. However, proponents of those industries tend to religiously extinguish any debate seeking to promote green and clean solutions other than wind or solar. I deplore this very narrow point of view very much as I am a great fan of a society where free market forces and not some top-down policy worked out by some self-appointed elites shape the economy as well as the daily lives of people.
It just so happened that despite the numerous obstacles oil & gas had to face in North America over the last years, Shale Gas still soldiers on. Together with Shale Oil, it is just about to break the back of OPEC as the guardian of the oil price. OPEC’s and other conventional oil and gas producers absolute power over our energy well-being is significantly weakened today. If the shale revolution gets just a little love from inside the beltway, it might be able to permanently rip us out of the stranglehold that those oil producers still have over our lives.
Natural Gas did not find a promoter in President Obama but rather someone who just left it alone while promoting others. The real reason for so little love from DC might be that Natural Gas is fossil and as such lumped together with all other fossil fuels as the killers of this planet. The contrary is true as it looks much more like it’s the key to a clean, sustainable and economically feasible 21st-century economy. What it lacks is an active friend and promoter in the White House and I sure speak for a lot of Natural Gas lovers when I say that we dearly hope you will fill those shoes.
If Americans enjoy bluer skies and cleaner air than in more than a century before, it’s not because of all those expensive windmills and solar panels but rather because of Natural Gas than has been fracked out of your own soil. China and India have recognized the very potent green properties of Natural Gas as a fuel which is why there are huge gasification programs for vehicles underway in those countries. They start from a much lower level of environmental protection so there is a feeling of urgency.
I am not worried that you will be unfair to Natural Gas, as everything you have said so far lets me assume that you intend to level the field. This alone will make Natural Gas even more of a star as it performs so well.
However, you might want to go one step further. The world and many Americans expect you to fry the planet because they think you are the enemy of a clean environment and a healthy world to live in. Judging by everything I have seen so far I think they might be colossally wrong.
How about President Trump who becomes known for making America not only great again but for also making it the best place to live again as he shows the world and his own people how incredibly clean Natural Gas really is as compared to many other fuels we use today. You can show the world how decentralized power production and Natural Gas as a fuel can change any economy for the better.
This all needs innovation but that’s not where things fail. What’s much more important is that it also needs entrepreneurs, those who go on the hard trek of making lofty ideas hard, job creating, money making businesses. That’s what America has been famous for, for much of its existence. The entrepreneur that goes out and cuts a living and a future for himself, his children and his community. Those are the countless individuals that make a country thrive and who better to be their voice in DC than a self-made businessman who turned into the leader of the country?
Make America not only a country of innovators but also a country of born again entrepreneurs. I am not talking about fancy startups or government subsidized job creation programs but about the countless little businesses that do the unglamorous but vital things that make a community tick. Natural Gas is not a technology game for the slick and fancy, it’s much more solid technology that has been around for decades and made its proofs. It just lacked an economic rationale in the past and had some unfair competition plus a scarcity situation to grapple with until the shale revolution made scarcity a thing of the past.
America can be a leader not only in LNG exports but even more a leader in distributed co generation technologies, small-scale logistics, storage and use of gas. Gas lends itself to small businesses equally well as to big corporations as the financial and the technological entry barriers are very low. The technology is mature and well-tried and tested.
E-mobility on the other side is big corporation business as the technological and investment barrier is colossal. How shall a small mom & pop business crack that? But its small businesses that are the backbone of the social fabric and its also the myriads of small businesses that ensure social peace and welfare, not giant government programs.
So, Mr. President-elect Donald J. Trump. The world expects you to pollute the air, the water, and the soil in the name of profits. It expects you to cook the planet for short term gain. It expects your worst and I just think that many, really many people don’t yet know the real Donald J. Trump.
Nobody is better placed to show them that an entrepreneur is someone who cares about the environment, social peace, the world, and jobs just as much as his P&L statement. Nobody is better placed to promote an energy source and carrier that lends itself to the needs of small business, big corporations, homeowners, city dwellers and tech junkies just as much as to Greenies and Silicon Valley startups. Nobody is better placed to show the world that there is more than airborne Carbon that comes out of an exhaust shaft of a vehicle and that those other things are infinitely more dangerous than CO we have been living with since before the dinosaurs.
The US has all the raw materials in place to become a real Methanopolis – that’s what I call a methane-based economy that is clean, balanced, energy independent and decentralized. Now it is important to use those assets and this technological and entrepreneurial advantage. And it’s also important to show Americans and the world that Natural Gas and LNG are solutions, not problems. We need you to lead us here.
Your predecessor did not put those assets in place. He did not cause or support the shale revolution or support those technologies actively. He was only stepping out of the way of American entrepreneurs, so they can do what they do best. Make America great again.
i take exception to the continued labeling of fracked shale gas/LNG as a clean energy source. frac gas comes from source rock that contains a sizeable quantity of Uranium. that translates into a high % of Radon in the produced gas. during the liquification process, radon condenses out with propane. this stream is highly radioactive because of the concentrating of Radon. when that stream is then burned at the LNG processing plant over 10 tons of radioactive micro particles of lead and it’s precursor, Radon are introduced into the surrounding air. my short question; how much radioactive lead has been introduced into environment in last 10 years from frac gas world wide. Q2; what mitigation measures are being taken?
Kate, thank you so much for this interesting comment. I must admit that I have not given this problem much thought in the past, not because it’s not an interesting problem or because I want to dodge the issue but rather because it has not come to my attention yet. Looks like the Radon goes away with the Propane which makes the NG pure but there must be ways to separate the Radon from the Radon as well I would suppose. This one is for the engineers knowing that it will also go into the cost stack. Thanks again.
after condensing out the propane/radon stream the LNG still contains residual lead and radioactive lead (23 year 1/2 life) which is in individual atoms other atomic sized daughters of Uranium and Radium, along with “induced radioactive” elements ie carbon-14, radioactive Iodine, etc. These substances may be impossible to remove. In addition, various pieces of processing equipment will become radioactive because of radioactive scale deposition and induced radioactively. Pipelines become coated with normal “black dust”. This new type of radioactive black dust will require specially designed pigs and 0% dust escape removal and disposal procedures. The escape of radioactive frac gas through vertical fractures to the surface is a problem (i have a design of a device to solve this). LNG is dirty, but the technological problems can be solved if they are addressed in a timely manner. Thank you for looking into this.
One thing to keep the tabs on. Thanks Kate.