Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Road To New England: Pipeline Phobia -- Bloomberg -- July 12, 2016

This is a cool story from Bloomberg. Again, I would not have known about this story had it not been for the blog and readers who alerted it to me sometime ago.

I've actually blogged about the Mystic River (once) before. See these other posts regarding the linked Bloomberg story above:
Here's the most recent article, titled "Pipeline Phobia Keeps New England's Unlikely Trade Route Open" -- reminds me of the rum and molasses trade during the Revolutionary War:
Thanks to the shale revolution, the U.S. has plenty of natural gas of its own. All along the eastern seaboard, a chain of import terminals -- built when the country expected to get its fuel from abroad -- now lie idle.

Except one.

For reasons that have to do with environmental politics and geology, New England is bucking the trend. Three or four times a month, a police helicopter escorts giant ships through Boston Harbor, as they deliver liquefied natural gas from Trinidad to a terminal on the Mystic River. [And spewing all that CO2.]
Why buy from the Caribbean, when so much cheap gas is pumped out of Pennsylvania and Ohio? One objection is the new pipelines needed to bring it to New England. The Northeast is famously cold in winter, and it sits on beds of granite that make underground fuel storage a problem, so gas and power prices typically spike way above the rest of the country when there’s a freeze. But using shale gas to cut the bills means a longer-term commitment to fossil fuels, and any proposed pipeline route triggers local objections: it will leave a scar along the Catskill Mountains, or pose a safety risk to residential neighborhoods. That’s the dilemma that has given Engie SA’s import facility near Boston, unlike all its peers, a new lease on life.

“We’ve been competing with pipelines since we opened,” Carol Churchill, a spokeswoman for the French utility in Massachusetts, said by phone. Once the gas arrives in Boston, some of it goes straight to an adjacent Exelon Corp. power station and the rest is transported via existing pipes or by truck. “It doesn’t make sense to build a pipeline to satisfy demand for 30 to 40 days a year,” Churchill says.

That argument has seen off a few potential rivals. Kinder Morgan Inc. scrapped its proposed $3.3 billion Northeast Energy Direct project in April, after failing to sign up enough customers. The Constitution Pipeline, intended to bring Marcellus gas from Pennsylvania, has been held up because New York denied a water permit, amid concern about contamination of the city’s supply.

Solution or Stopgap?

Instead, New England relies on tankers like the BW GDF Suez Everett, a regular visitor, whose logbook reflects the surge in Yankee demand. It used to roam the world’s seas, putting in at places like Singapore, Nigeria and Yemen; this year, it’s been plying a straight shuttle between Trinidad, where it loads up with LNG, and Boston.

Engie’s terminal there looked like it was sliding into disuse a couple of years ago, but now it’s taking in more cargoes than at any time since 2012. It supplied 11 percent of New England’s gas in January.

To pipeline-builders, that’s a stopgap not a solution. They point out that New England, like other parts of the U.S., has a growing appetite for natural gas in homes and power plants, as dirtier fossil fuels like coal and oil are phased out. Gas-fired plants are providing more than half of the Northeast’s power supply this month, up from 15 percent in 2000.
Wow, I did not know it was a French utility. Now, it finally all makes sense. LOL. This is how the 13 colonies continue to thank France for their help in the Revolutionary War.

Much, much more at the link.

Hamilton, The Revolution

Speaking of the American Revolution, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter have just published their book on the Broadway play, Hamilton: The Revolution. It's a very high-quality book and I think anyone who is thinking about buying it sight-unseen will not be disappointed.

The Drunken Botanist

Another great little book is The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks, Amy Stewart, c. 2013.  I had not seen this book before. It's pretty clever. It's a very, very good book on botany but also includes some great cocktail recipes.

Whenever I visit a new "Mexican" restaurant, I always order chile relleno. By ordering the same thing in each new restaurant I get a feeling for how "good" the restaurant is, if that makes sense.

Likewise, now that I understand the "classic martini" -- which I think is a misnomer (a martini is a martini; everything else with martini in its name is simply flavored vodka or gin) -- when looking at a book on cocktails, I immediately look up the author's recipe or comments on martinis. That tells me a lot about the author. In this case, Amy Stewart has it exactly right. It is interesting that she got it so "right," because her bio says she is from California (a state not exactly not known for martinis) and there is nothing in her bio about her having any experience with cocktails. But despite that, she got the martini exactly right.

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