|Pic from New York's 2014 Draft Energy Plan: Young people check the iPhone.|
Release the gloss!
Young hipster pictures!
Hold the infrastructure!
More buzzwords! (You can never have too many buzzwords.)
The state's 2014 (it was previously due 2013) Draft Energy Plan was put out for public consumption and comment with the flick of a web page switch yesterday here. The plan is a somewhat belated update of previous tomes from 2009 and 2002, both written in unparsed bureaucratese, as I previously discussed here.
So far, this seems to have gotten noticed only by Capital New York, with the for-once-pointed headline, "State plan calls for renewables and cost savings, skips fracking."
Volume 1, effectively the plan's executive summary, looks like some kind of wet dream shot out of the Twenty-Tens' incarnation of Fifties/Sixties adman Don Draper: Glossy pics of multicultural young people, high tech lab geeks, a folksy greenhouseman, seductively lit solar installations, cool-looking windmills, a plug-in car, and even an Adirondack beaver pond!
The state's energy policymakers and their Apparently Hired Gloss Team felt no obligation whatsoever to actually illustrate the full panoply of New York State's current (and on-the-horizon) energy reality: Power lines — I see them all the time, but no pics here. A nuclear power plant? I'm using some of those charged electrons right now, here in Syracuse, a short distance from Nine Mile Point on the Lake Ontario coast. Hydropower? I actually love that kind of renewable canoeable technology, but, sorry, no. A flannel-shirted upstater prepping some renewable firewood? I've done that — a lot of that, but, sorry, no such illustration. A utility lineman, working overtime to recover New York State from Hurricane Sandy? A train carrying crude oil through downtown Albany — because the Obama Administration has balked at getting the Keystone pipeline built? A natural gas pipeline carrying largely fracked heat to anti-frack urbanites in NYC or New England? A very topical, coal-burning plant, soon-to-be retired in favor of cheaper and cleaner natural gas? A fuel oil truck driver, handing off the bill? Or an electric meter? Or a gas meter?
And, of course, never mind a drill rig. And never mind a Southern Tier landowner, standing with beseeching open arms on the Pennsylvania state line, two miles above millions of dollars of the very same shale gas that New York State consumes more of every day — but still refuses to allow the drilling for, inside its precious jurisdiction.
This is not energy policy or governance; this is the governance of wishful perception. It's a totally disgraceful corruption to the professionalism of the state PSC, NYSERDA, NYPA, and DEC — agencies which have to grapple with the real world of New York's energy needs every day.
Here's a quick count of buzzwords, set against some real-world alternatives, just from the summary:
"sustain" or versions thereof — 16 times.
"renewable" — 20 times.
"clean" — 67 times!
"solar" — 15.
"coal" — 0.
"fossil fuel" — 4.
"natural gas" — 9.
"drilling" — 0.
"hydraulic" — 0.
"frack" — 0.
"shale" — 0.
"nuclear" — 0.
Don't get me wrong — I'm all for clean energy, alternatives, renewables, and conservation, especially if they are at least close to competitive, and especially if the New York economy gets as much of the action as possible.
But I'm not for disguising the reality of the situation.
I'm not for catering to the uninformed, wishful desires of everybody in New York who wants to feel vaguely good about the future, but to stay lit and warm throughout, burning what's extracted out of Pennsylvania.
I'm not for NIMBY hypocrisy now rising up to become official state energy policy.