Nancy Pelosi thinks natural gas is “an alternative to fossil fuels.”

I often rant about the stupidity of Republicans when it comes to issues of global warming, but I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t point out when Democrats are stupid about it as well. There’s been a lot of news lately on Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s potential conflict of interest in regards to her position as Speaker of the House and the fact that she’s investing in a company that just so happens to be involved in an area of energy production that she’s been promoting in her clean energy policies. Legal experts seem to think that she’s not yet crossed the line into true conflict of interest territory, but that hasn’t stopped her critics from jumping all over her for it.

During a recent interview with Tom Brokaw she was asked about the investment and it was during her attempt to defend it that she made a pretty stupid statement (emphasis mine):

MR. BROKAW:  Oh, it’s what, between 100 and $200,000.

REP. PELOSI:  No, no, it was between 50 and $100,000, and it’s part of an, you know, entrepreneurial package.  This is the package we sign up for, this is what they invest in.  But that’s not the point.  I’m, I’m, I’m investing in something I believe in.  I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels.

Nancy, natural gas is a fossil fuel. True as it may be that a transition away from fossil fuels may benefit from a move towards the use of natural gas while we further develop the true alternative energies, that doesn’t make saying it isn’t a fossil fuel true. I suppose I’m picking nits here, but I’d feel a lot more confident in our leader’s ability to come up with a reasonable and achievable alternative energy plan if they actually know what is and isn’t a fossil fuel.

50 thoughts on “Nancy Pelosi thinks natural gas is “an alternative to fossil fuels.”

  1. Oh my, that’s just painfully stupid.  And no, you aren’t nitpicking.  The main advantage of turning natural gas into a liquid fuel is that it gets used to do work formerly done by other liquid fuels… instead of burned into the air (wasted) at an oil well.

  2. At the risk of sounding as ignorant as a politician:

    I don’t get it. Natural gas isn’t any more renewable than liquid fossil fuel right? So whats the difference/advantage of using one over the other? I mean from an environmental standpoint?

  3. From an environmental standpoint there’s a few advantages. While it still puts CO2 into the air it’s less than some other fossil fuels. It produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy released. In that respect it’s “cleaner” than coal or oil, but not truly clean like solar power is. According to it’s Wikipedia entry:

    [B]urning natural gas produces about 30% less carbon dioxide than burning petroleum and about 45% less than burning coal.

    The other advantage is that there is a lot of natural gas out there at the moment. This makes it useful as a means of transitioning off other dirtier fossil fuels as we try to develop truly clean technologies.

  4. And as I mentioned before, vast amounts of natural gas are currently being wasted through flaring at oil wells (where it still produces co2.  A process that can liquify the stuff on a small scale (say, at a well head) means the fuel can be used instead of wasted.

  5. Ok that makes sense. Unfortunately I have a bad habbit of tending to think in absolute black/white terms.

  6. Natural gas is an easy conversion for most standard internal combustion engines.  Not saying it is cheap, or without problems, but we have been running many dual-fuel vehicles, such as forklifts that run inside buildings, for many years.  The reason for them is that their exhaust is cleaner.
      Natural gas infrastructure is well established, we just need more “gas station” outlets.  Converting cars and trucks to use natural gas will make a big dent, AND A QUICK DENT, in our burning of oil. 
      I would like to suggest everyone pay attention to the Pickens Plan, which is running TV ads now.  This man knows what he is talking about.

  7. (This is not some right-wing wacko “God Hates Fags” kind of nutcase site. It is VERY detailed and supported with references.)

    OMFG!  It has references an’ everything!  I guess the jig is up.

    Hey, if you liked that site, maybe you’ll like this one.

    “Goes to credibility, your honor.”

  8. I’m not convinced it’s a “proven fact”, but I think there’s enough evidence behind it to take it seriously.

  9. There’s something about the whole “Repent! The End Is NEAR!” hysterical tenor of the global warming enthusiasts’ cries of alarm that has a fishy smell to it.

  10. That’s all Al Gore has.

    Didn’t watch the video, did you Jay?  I’ve read that website, and a passel of others like it.  They’re a study in obfuscation.  But whyyyy would someone do that, I wonder? 

    There’s something about the whole “Repent! The End Is NEAR!” hysterical tenor of the global warming enthusiasts’ cries of alarm that has a fishy smell to it.

    Sure, that’s the way to evaluate scientific evidence.  Just go with your gut, I always say.  and speaking of fish

    Mankind isn’t the only species on Earth, we just act like it.  Don’t worry, the world won’t end.  But we can sure make it a lot less habitable.

    Maybe if global warming wore a turban and prayed toward Mecca five times a day, conservatives would take it more seriously.

  11. “Mankind isn’t the only species on Earth, we just act like it.  Don’t worry, the world won’t end.  But we can sure make it a lot less habitable.”

    Typical global warming enthusiast; your concern for the environment is just a fig leaf for your hatred of humans.

  12. Typical global warming enthusiast; your concern for the environment is just a fig leaf for your hatred of humans.

    Humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which we sit.  When population soars past 8bn, topsoil gone, coastal cities flooded, fisheries depleted, tropical zoonotic diseases in the temperate zones, and oil production tanks, you get mass starvation and probably war.  We are on track for these things to happen, unless we apply a bit of long-term thinking.

    Paul Revere was an ‘alarmist’.  Did he hate the colonies?  Please tell me you are not actually that stupid.

  13. I’ve known DOF for quite awhile and the last words I’d use to describe him is “human hater.” Truth of the matter is DOF and myself are probably old enough that we won’t live to see the worst of what’s to come. There’s even a chance our kids won’t live to see the worst of it.

    So if we really hated humans we wouldn’t give a shit if the planet were going to hell in a hand basket. The simple truth is: We, as a species, are part of an ecosystem upon which we are reliant and if we do enough damage to that ecosystem we could bring about our own premature extinction.

    In all seriousness, I don’t think enough people are going to realize the shit storm that’s brewing before it’s too late to do much about it. We don’t respond well to a slow approaching crisis. Give us something immediate, earthquake, wild fire, hurricane, etc. and we’re all over that bitch, but if it takes awhile to get here we’ll just sit around and argue about it for awhile until it’s too late to do shit about it.

    Or, worse, some of us make it a point to do more damage because we think the threat isn’t real.

  14. For me, I have a feeling that the truth is somewhere between the doomsayers and the deniers. My only concern is that by the time it becomes a “proven fact” it will be too late to do anything about it. I’m old enough to see the positive changes we made in air/water quality and hope that we continue the good work we have done so far, not stop because it is “good enough”. I also think ushering in a new era of “green” might also be a good way to create jobs to meet the new challenge. We tooled up for the space race, now we can tool up for the green race.

  15. How many times has the weatherman been wrong about his prediction for the next day? And we are relying on the same weatherman’s prediction for weather 20 or 50 years from now? WTF? Yes, we need to pay attention to our environment. We are, all of us, part of that environment. However, Chicken Little was not using adequate data for his predicition. I suspect we are not using adequate data for Al Gore’s prediction.

  16. How many times has the weatherman been wrong…

    That’s a common canard of the confusion between weather and climate.  Weather is what happens on a given day in a turbulent system.  Climate is the aggregation of all the weather.  Climate is a trend, and shows up in things that move over longer time periods, like ice coverage, oceanic pH, and ocean surface temperatures.

    And for the umpteenth time, it is not Al Gore’s prediction.  Nor that of the ‘same weatherman’.  Your friendly TV weatherman is not a climatologist and does not have supercomputers, satellites, or global sensor networks.  He does not do isotopic analysis of ancient ice cores and tree rings.  He does not pore through the exacting records of English gardeners during the start of the Industrial Revolution. 

    Chicken Little is a children’s story.

  17. Weathermen are surprisingly accurate- the British Metreological office does use a supercomputer.  What they can not predict is change in wind speed/direction, so the promised weather does happen, not just always where and when predicted- it gets there late/early.

  18. Sorry, didn’t mean to diss weathermen, and national weather services use sophisticated methods. Pity the poor local TV personality though – he has the toughest job of all.  No matter how good the national predictions, he’s going to be wrong about the weather this afternoon in a particular village for exactly the reasons you mentioned.

    In some ways a climatologist has an “easier” job, like predicting the average of 500 dice tosses instead of trying to predict the next one.

  19. Lh writes…

    What they can not predict is change in wind speed/direction, so the promised weather does happen, not just always where and when predicted- it gets there late/early.

    This is actually something I’ve noticed over the years as I’ve gotten older. More often than not the weatherman is correct on what will happen, but off on when it’ll happen. The further into the future something (e.g. rain) is supposed to happen the more likely it’ll be off by a day or two.

  20. Also there is interesting (well if you’re a geek like me) research into why the weather is worse at the weekend- (Saturdays get more than 1/7 of the rain).  It is believed, and there is serious research going on into this, the drop in motor traffic (ie commuters), affects the weather. 

    The Neo-Cons will no doubt work this into their Green strategy- to stop it happening we can all work 7 days a week.

  21. DOF:

    Your friendly TV weatherman is not a climatologist and does not have supercomputers, satellites, or global sensor networks.  He does not do isotopic analysis of ancient ice cores and tree rings.  He does not pore through the exacting records of English gardeners during the start of the Industrial Revolution.

    OK, research into PRE-INDUSTRIAL history to show the climate has changed often in the past, so the current input of HUMAN INDUSTRIES must be producing the current change in the weather? Again, WTF?

    Chicken Little is a children’s story.

    You’re saying human input to make the climate change is NOT a children’s story?

  22. You’re saying human input to make the climate change is NOT a children’s story?

    Yep.  Investigation into pre-industrial climate changes has coughed up a few different things that can change climate.  One of them is atmospheric carbon dioxide, whatever the source. Now if we dig gigatonnes of carbon out of the ground and burn it, we change the composition of the atmosphere.  We then become agents of climate change; it took a hell of a long time for that carbon to be sequestered in the ground in the first place. 

    Climate change over very long periods is no big deal, ecosystems adapt.  Over very short periods, very bad, because ecosystems die.  The resulting upheaval makes life difficult for species that depend on those ecosystems.  Us, for example.

  23. Leguru:  Are you really saying that you don’t believe that human activity can affect the climate?  I don’t think that the world is as big as you think it is.
      A single volcano eruption can affect the climate for months over a surprisingly large area.  Every large city and industrial area in the world is another smoking volcano that wasn’t there just a few decades ago.  Do you really think that it makes no difference?

  24. Not as much difference as aforementioned volcanos – and ocean currents – and wind cycles – and water condensation – etc. Yes, we do affect the climate when we pollute, but that contribution is miniscule compared to Motha Nature. Should we take better care of our stewardship? Of course we should! Will it stop Motha Nature on her appointed course? Not likely! Do the few humans that could make a difference care? If it takes money from their control, no they do not care (the billionaires that really run the world). Now, if you want to further concentrate that control, just play into the hands of the climate doomsdayers. Follow the buck.

  25. How did you get “hatred of humans” from anything DoF said?

    He didn’t, he was just adding a little ad hominem when his argument started tasting a little

    Yes, we do affect the climate when we pollute, but that contribution is miniscule compared to Motha Nature.

    Even seen a large open-cast coal mine?

    In any case, I feel the whole debate has focused to the Co2 emissions thing to a too-large degree (because its such easy media shorthand). What about the people that die (such as in Bejing) from FIRSTHAND effects of pollution. There’s still many, many millions (maybe even billions) that have their lives cut severely short because of pollution’s direct effects.

    Maybe it’s just the engineer in me – but it all seems so inefficient and wasteful in me, and any sane person would enjoy digging in and building the solutions (as a society and individual) that we need to stop so many evils at once. The technology is usually there. But the evils of capitalism prevent us – because anyone, or any nation, which invests heavily into the common good suddenly ends up with a substantial financial burden that the “the future can go to hell, we live now” crowd doesn’t have to pay.

    Also preventing us are the “green please, but not here” crowd. There’s a major project here in NZ that would like to build submarine tidal turbines to power 250,000 houses with electricity. Sweet. Instead, they get tons of legal challenges from people afraid about the local fish. Get some perspective.

  26. Leguru, you and I have had this exact same conversation before, in a thread started by Webs05.  I couldn’t find a permalink to the comment but here it is in quotes:

    Leguru: “I have no problem with the idea that the Earth may be going into a warming cycle. I have IMMENSE problems with the thought that we puny humans are having a large part to do with that cycle. Has anyone thought about the possibility of the SUN going through a warming cycle? Does the sun have a large impact on our weather patterns?”

       

    A termite weighs about 2.5 milligrams.  Your house weighs around 54,000 kilograms excluding the foundation, or about 22 billion times as much as the termite.  How can puny little termites do any real damage to anything as massive as your house?

    Answer: a lot of termites, each doing a little bit of damage at a time.  And no, we’re not different from termites; we’re living things that consume resources and produce waste.  Even termites, tiny as they are, produce enough methane to contribute measureably to global warming, though their production has been stable for a long, long time.  They have not learned to dig gigatonnes of coal out of the ground and burn it.

    And yes, solar cycles are factored in.  The sun’s output is remarkably stable but it is in a period of cooling that will slightly lower the global warming curve, giving us a little more time.  Maybe as much as an extra year to get our asses in gear.

    The Earth is big, yes; but it isn’t the Earth we’re affecting so much as the biosphere.  That’s thinner than a coat of varnish on a classroom globe.

  27. My thoughts on global warming, fwtw:

    1) Yes, it is true that there is a great deal of uncertainty about the predictions.  What affects climate, and the kinds of positive and negative feedback loops that exist, are still poorly understood, and perhaps will never be completely understood.

    2) Even so, the consensus among climatologists not on the payroll of oil companies, directly or indirectly, is that it is happening, it is largely man-made, and it is going to get worse unless we do something about it.

    3) That being the case, and the more general fact that the Earth’s resources are finite and cannot support an indefinite increase in our consumption and pollution, dictate that we should do something about it.  Of course, this will require a certain amount of privation on our part, in order to make the world a better place for our children.  For those to whom that is not sufficient reason to not drive an SUV to Safeway, what can I say?  We have to make choices about what is important to us.

  28. I really don’t know what to think.

    I think Zilch’s point 2 is probably correct, but another question is what do we do about it? There are very stong economical and social pressures at the grassroots level( hope I’m using that term correctly) against any form of life-style change.

    Another reason I don’t trust what environmentalists say, is that I feel that environmentalism has become something of a mask for anti-coroporationism and anti-governmentism. And while I have nothing per se against anti-coroporationism and anti-governmentism, it does make me hesitate when I hear anything the environmentalist organisations have to say.

    I’m confused.

  29. I really don’t know what to think.

    exactly what carbon energy producers want.  It’s the same strategy – even some of the same people as the tobacco company strategists; sow doubt and confusion.  Create the impression that scientists are not in consensus about the issue.  Keep repeating “more research is needed”.  Hammer on “choice” and “personal freedom” where, in this instance, it suits them.  And keep a sharp eye on the bottom line.

  30. what do we do about it? There are very stong economical and social pressures at the grassroots level( hope I’m using that term correctly) against any form of life-style change.

    We COULD do things about it. Like those countries who pollute less raising trade taxes against countries that refuse to play fair and do their share to combat pollution.

    Except that capitalism prevents this. Capitalism is all good and fine. But people forget that it is a system of ECONOMICS, and we have made it our system of GOVERNING.

  31. Oh, and Julia, if that is anti-coroporationism – so be it. Corporates are in my opinion to blame for a good chunk of the pollution (the remainder is our own fault, because we are too lazy and complacent ourselves).

  32. DOF: You’re arguing that human pollution only affects the biosphere. Everybody knows that God and Profit (not necessarily in that order) are more important than human life. So we humans have a cure for that. You seem to think the cure is bad. Get a grip on reality.  tongue wink

  33. Oh, and Julia, if that is anti-coroporationism – so be it. Corporates are in my opinion to blame for a good chunk of the pollution (the remainder is our own fault, because we are too lazy and complacent ourselves).

    That’s a fair point.

    I’m pretty anti-corporate myself. It’s just that I prefer anti-corporate arguments to be up front anti-corporate, rather than disguised as environmental ones. That isn’t to say that all or most of the environmentalists arguments that happen to be anti-corporate are in fact motivated by anti-corporatism.

    I’m not being very clear am I? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I cannot find many sources of information on this topic that doesn’t appear to have an agenda that is not related to environmentalism.

    Oh it’s Julian. I know my name is unisex, but I’m a guy. Or alternatively that might have just been a typo grin

    exactly what carbon energy producers want.  It’s the same strategy – even some of the same people as the tobacco company strategists; sow doubt and confusion.  Create the impression that scientists are not in consensus about the issue.  Keep repeating “more research is needed”.  Hammer on “choice” and “personal freedom” where, in this instance, it suits them.  And keep a sharp eye on the bottom line

    Also a fair point. Something like the so-called creationism/evolution ‘contoversy’ you mean?

  34. Maybe it’s just the engineer in me – but it all seems so inefficient and wasteful in me, and any sane person would enjoy digging in and building the solutions (as a society and individual) that we need to stop so many evils at once.

    Maybe it’s just the engineers in my family (father electrical, uncle chemical, myself instrumentmaker, an engineer of sorts), but this is exactly my perspective, ingolfson.

    And julian- as far as corporations go, I look at the bottom line, as dof suggests: what good do they do for whom, what harm do they do to whom?  There are no easy answers (although that one is one of my favorites LOL).  It’s natural and even laudable for people to pursue financial success: the failure of communism demonstrates this.  But if there is no accountability for harm done, then harm will be done: the fruits of laissez-faire capitalism demonstrate this.  We need a balance, and constant vigilance.

    I am a pretty radical environmentalist, but I am not anti-corporation:  if corporations behave well, then that’s fine with me.  My hope is that more and more corporations, including oil companies (Standard is showing some signs of responsibility in this direction) will realize that even their CEO’s have kids, and act accordingly.

    It’s like something Gandhi said: you must speak to that part of the enemy that knows what is right.  Or as Spock said once, in an episode that took place in a parallel universe where evil was admired, and the whole parallel Enterprise crew was evil, to his evil counterpart (this is from memory, not verbatim): “if you go on being evil, the whole system will collapse very soon, but if you do good, you will be able to go on doing good for a long time”.  The evil Spock replied “I will consider it”, and the good Spock knew that he had won.

  35. LH- I guess we have to define exactly what “communism” is then, don’t we?  If by that, you mean something along the lines of Marx’s maxim “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”, then I will go out on a limb and make a wild, unfounded speculation: it is a fine sentiment, but it can’t be implemented as a system of government.  That is, unless you interpret “needs” to include “recognition (in the form of tangible rewards) for one’s contributions to society”.  People will go on thinking first of Number One.  And while the sense of what Number One includes is not just the fat that sticks to one’s own bones- with the right social genes and memes it extends to family, friends, neighbors, nation, world, life- it starts, nonetheless, with the fat that sticks to one’s own bones (this is Walt Whitman’s synechdoche).  And efforts to eliminate this are doomed to failure- and boredom.

  36. I have no problem with corporations as long as they don’t externalize their costs to the commons.  That is, in essence, what CO2 output, overfishing, topsoil degradation, mercury emissions, overloaded trucks, unsafe products, etc., do.

    Or as Zilch puts it, they’re OK “if they behave well”.

  37. Hey, dof, “they’re OK if they behave well” is a one-size-fits-all philosophy.  I use it for religions as well as corporations.

    Externalizing costs to the commons is indeed the problem, especially when we consider the “commons” to include the lives of our grandchildren.  Along these lines, here’s an amusing and thought-provoking story.

  38. CO2 output, overfishing, topsoil degradation, mercury emissions, overloaded trucks, unsafe products,

    Are all good for the economy.

    Cleanup cost money, ergo it shows up in the GDP.
    Flood defences- Ditto

    and so on

    If they ever catch Bin Laden he can honestly say that ‘9/11’ helped the US economy.

  39. CO2 output, overfishing, topsoil degradation, mercury emissions, overloaded trucks, unsafe products, […] Are all good for the economy.

    That is the problem, isn’t it?  War is good for the economy too.  And although environmental protection can also be good for the economy, it tends to be rather labor than capital intensive, and benefits many people over longer periods of time.  This, of course, makes it not so interesting to those people and corporations that would rather see wealth concentrated in their own hands, and as such people and corporations tend (not conincidentally) to have a great deal of political power, protecting the environment is an uphill battle.

  40. Until the people and corporations find ways to make a buck off the environmental movement (or, more plausible, become more powerful and able to concentrate the wealth even more). Follow the buck.

  41. Leguru, there’s nothing wrong with profit.  Environmental technologies will never become dominant unless they are also profitable.  And conservation is just good sense.  Once subsidies for carbon energy are cut and corporations are forced to face their externalized costs, the profit picture will change dramatically.  Right now the playing field is severely tilted.

  42. If I sound a bit cynical, it’s because I am. Not fatalistic. I still believe in human nobelness and would like to see someone step up to the plate and plead for humanity. Until I see that, color me skeptical. I’m a bit too old to do so, myself, but would energenically support the one who does. (You will notice I stated “human” nobelness, not government or corporation nobelness.)

  43. Leguru, there’s nothing wrong with profit.

    I venture that much of the profit of modern corporations is done for other entities. Who are owned by yet other entities. Who are owned either by a faceless mass of people far removed from the actual decision making (widely held stocks) or by a few individuals (closely held stock, privately held companies).

    The first group is easily led astray and bamboozled by those who should be in THEIR employ (the board of directors and CEOs), because its hard to stand up in a stockholder’s meeting with 0.003% of the company’s value as a voting right and change what the top guys are doing), and the second group already makes much more money than they can ever sensibly use (so technically they need no profit) and can certainly insulate themselves and their children from any external damage they do.

    What I trying to say? The profit motive is a good tool to get people working. But above a certain size (by nature not clearly defined) it breaks down, and becomes evil, because it heads towards anti-competitive practices (fighting your competitors by undercutting them to prevent any from rising to a size able to rival you, ensuring that laws are passed that benefit you and hinder everyone else…)

    That’s why I AM afraid of globalisation. Not capitalism. It’s the LACK of competition that eventually develops, and the constant drive to least cost (rather than excellence) that seems to be the lot of the customer and worker on the way to a company’s global domination.

    Rant over. And yes, Julia(n). It was just a typo. Either me or my keyboard is getting rusty, because I sure do a lot of typos since a few months ago…

  44. Get some proof on global warming and then maybe people with half a brain will buy into it.  Is there proof of rising sea levels? Nope.  Has average temperature average dropped in various places around the world? Yes. Do we KNOW that earth goes through it’s own temperature cycles? Yes. Yet with the very very slight temperature change over the past 100 years makes some people FREAK OUT.

    The FACT is there are no FACTS proving global warming is real.  We are wasting time on a big fake scam rather than addressing the real issues of our impact on this planet.  Lets make our trash more biodegradable for one thing.  There are far more pressing issues than an unproven hoax.

  45. Get some proof on global warming and then maybe people with half a brain will buy into it.

    There’s plenty of proof, to the extent anything in the physical world is provable, GWS.  But people with only half a brain are already buying into the global warming denial.  Facts won’t change their (your) mind.

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