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DICK BAYNTON: Fossil Fuels – Past and Future

Dick Baynton

Among the many extreme conditions being proposed by the liberal left is the elimination of fossil fuels, also called petroleum, crude oil, coal and natural gas that have accumulated over hundreds of millions of years.

First discovered by the Chinese in 600 BC and transported by bamboo tubing, this natural fossilized subterranean substance became an important commodity in the U.S. upon discovery by Col. Drake at Oil Creek, PA in 1859. The Spindletop discovery of oil in Texas in 1901 boosted the prospects for the rapid expansion in the production, refining, sale and use of petroleum products around the world.

Petroleum-based products line the shelves of stores and shops throughout the world. In addition, new uses keep being developed to the point that millions of products use petroleum-based products (plastics) throughout the world.

The ‘Vaseline’ we use on our bodies is made from ‘crude oil.’ So is paraffin wax used in a variety of ways including the sealing of jam and jelly jars by home canners. Of the 2.7 million miles of highways in the USA, 94% are made from asphalt and called ‘blacktop’ or ‘macadam.’ Millions of squares of asphalt shingles are applied to new and replacement roofs of homes and commercial buildings. Billions of jars and other containers are made from plastic, a derivative of crude oil. Polyester, nylon and acrylics are all derived at least in part from crude oil.

When dreamers make sweeping statements about any topic, they must be careful to research what they are saying before they expose their ignorance by blurting out factoids, words and concepts that stumble out beyond their think tank often referred to as a ‘brain.’

Regarding the use of refined crude oil used for locomotion fuel, it is hard to believe that there is an alternative fuel waiting in the wings for huge ships, private and commercial airliners and locomotives. As far as marine power is concerned, nuclear power is being used in naval vessels but not sure whether or not it would be appropriate for commercial vessels. It does appear that Elon Musk through the auspices of his ‘Tesla’ production company is readying class ‘8’ power units to pull 53’ semi trailers around the country using electric motors sustained by powerful batteries. At this point I believe the program is in the experimental stage.

In 2008, then President Obama made a statement of finality by suggesting that entering the coal production business would result in bankruptcy. This was a deeply sordid remark to make because changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of miners by replacing coal as an energy source meant that wind and solar could dovetail into the breach of energy supply virtually instantaneously.

Obama’s statement of disdain for the coal industry was buttressed by Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City. Suppose that Mr. Obama, using common sense and words of wisdom had said something like, ‘At some point in the future, we must reduce our dependence on coal as a fuel source due to its profound damage to our environment.’

Coal was first discovered by the Chinese about 3,000 years ago and was first mined in the United States near Richmond, VA in 1748

Such a cataclysmic and precipitous change of an entire historic industry deserved some time for changing the lives of leagues of miners and railroad and trucking employees as well as those who processed this fuel into various uses for power plants, industries and homes.

One important failure of the Obama attitude and speech was consideration of the almost 100 million tons of export coal to foreign buyers worth billions of dollars of revenue for our country. While we still import a few thousand tons of this energy source, the United States consumed 681 million tons of coal in 2018. It is not smart politics, smart government or even smart logic to attempt to sever an entire industry at the decree of a single person without some reservation.

Over time, yes, the power sources of wind, water and sun will be harnessed into leading energy sources but economic and cultural evolution must take place over time to harm the fewest number of people and companies while achieving the greatest economic and ecological gains in renewable energy and a healthier environment.

Dick Baynton

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