by jhwygirl

The story develops – this from the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Pruessing (Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president) also said that the 12-inch pipeline had been temporarily shut down in May because of concerns over the rising waters on the Yellowstone. He said the company decided to restart the line after examining its safety record and deciding the risk was low.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees pipelines, last year issued a warning letter to Exxon Mobil that cited seven safety violations along the ruptured Silvertip pipeline. Two of the warnings faulted the company for its emergency response and pipeline corrosion training.

And this…

The 20-year-old pipeline was last inspected in 2009 using a robotic device that travels through the line looking for corrosion, dents or other problems, Pruessing said. Tests to determine the pipeline’s depth were taken in December, and at the time, the line appeared to be 5 to 8 feet below the riverbed, he said.

So Exxon inspected the line and provided the report. These are guys with a history of safety violations – yes, here in Montana too.

Please notice the language “the line appeared to be 5 to 8 feet below the riverbed”. Did they inspect it or not? How could you be off by 5 to 8 feet? Or was that a guess?

Why the government hasn’t learned its lesson over self-regulation is beyond me. At minimum, the permitting process should included ongoing fees for inspections, and the government should be hiring 3rd party contractors to do these inspections.

  1. I was in Alaska when a habitually drunken Exxon supertanker captain ran the Valdez aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound.

    Exxon was completely unprepared for the spill and quickly hired a dishonest, corrupt businessman to run the cleanup. It was really a public relations campaign.

    Exxon hugely underestimated the amount of oil it had dumped into the Sound, one of the largest spills including from blowouts, in history.

    The whole process was geared to making it look like legitimate effective cleanup efforts were being made, while doing little to actually stop the spread and effects of the destruction.

    For instance, sea otters were being “rescued” that were in little danger of being fouled because there was a bounty for their capture. Then they were brought to “scientists” for “cleanup” who proceeded to plant transmitters in them to track their movements upon release. So the public were shown pictures and video of the cute otters and deluded into thinking that there were useful rescue efforts proceeding and the scientists got their “study” efforts completely subsidized.

    The only problem was that many of the otters that had never been exposed to the oil but were implanted with cigarette pack-sized transmitters were dying like flies. The now well-funded scientists enthusiastically played their parts in the charade.

    Cleanup workers were being exposed to harmful fumes and cleaning agents but the ongoing risks to them were minimized. They were often fishermen who were put out of work by the spill, not just for months, but for years or forever.

    Some of the fisheries, such as the herring fisheries, have never recovered from the disaster.

    Many of those affected by the preventable spill sued, the case being Baker v. Exxon Shipping. Exxon dragged out the settlement for 21 years.

    Judgments for the plaintiffs, the ruined businessmen, the towns that were devastated, the bankrupt fishermen, were reduced by court after court until it reached the corporate stooges on the Rehnquist court where damages were eventually dropped to 5% of the original awards from the trial court jurors.

    Bill Allen, the businessman made hundreds of millions for running the p.r. campaign. He was just recently released after years in federal prison for a different corruption scheme where he bribed legislators to lower taxes on the oil companies. Eleven state legislators as well as lobbyists, executives and the U.S. Senator were eventually convicted.

    Bill used the money to buy the oil corporation-friendly newspaper, one of the two largest in the state, and it became an even more unrestrained champion of the industry.

    So, if you are concerned about the efficacy and true intent of the Yellowstone spill cleanup and remediation effort, I would encourage you to keep your eyes on “the man behind the curtain.”

    Or, alternatively, keep your eyes upon the watch.

    You are getting very, very sleepy.

    • Capitalism is the Problem. The I ME MINE horde of Greed (mostly Repugs) and Scientists wrapped in the Flag all are the undoing of America, well, lets get real WE are UNDONE. This country is nothing the world would want to emulate.

  2. Pogue Mahone

    It’s really kind of funny to hear all the people complaining who live along the river, the ranchers, farmers, the folks with nice river homse, etc., whose fields and yards are now coated in oil, for many of these folks are the biggest tea party anti-enviro folks around. Funny how their tune changes once environmental devastation becomes a personal reality inSTEAD of just a hypothetical. All that oil and toxins went INto the river, and INto the irrigation canals, an INto the fields. What a mess, a toxic mess.

    It’s easy, every easy to ignore the reality when it’s somewhere else and wrapped in terms of “economic development”. I mean, what the heck, who can be against economic development, right? Only hippies, lefties, enviros, and dirty democrats. Well now, when you pour toxins into the lifeblood of a landscape, its rivers, and you watch the toxins coursing through a living landscape dispersing as if through viens to every part of that living landscape, polluting everything in its path including drinking wells used to sustain life of people, it becomes just a wee bit clearer of the interdependent nature of our environment.

    SO, in conclusion to all the anti-enviro ranchers, farmers, tea partiers, freemarketeers, etc., who absolutley HATE any enviro regulations but luv them some freedom, enjoy. Take a big swig of exxon elixir, take a nice shower in toxic water, and celebrate the “freedom” you provided to your corporate neighbor today on the Fourth! FREEDOM! (from regulations) And CHEER the economic development of the Big Koch Keystone Pipeline planned for eastern Montana. If you loved the economic development of the Laurel refinery, you gonna LUV you some Koch pipeline. Much bigger and much nastier! It has the potential to DESTROY huge acquifers!

    p.s. The Laurel refinery has one of the worst environmental records of any refinery in the country. Always has. Check it out.

    • Jesse Homs

      The Laurel refinery works with high-sulfur oil. The theory is that most of the SO2 dissipates before it gets to population centers, as east of Laurel is not many people. Exxon and Conoco have to be more careful.

      Whether that is true or rational, I do not know.

      • Pogue Mahone

        The air in the Billings Heights just across the river from those refineries was many times unbreatheable. I’m not talking metaphorically here. It was LITERALLY unbreatheable! A human being could not breathe it. On summer nights when there was no wind, and the refineries kicked it up a notch, I don’t know what the scientific measurements were, but you could not breathe it. Even if it was eighty degrees outside night-time temp, you had to shut up every window in the house and simply swelter. This was on Lori Ln. Go there and ask the residents what it’s like to live near those refineries.

        Is it better now? I dunno. I seriously doubt it. Billings had some really nasty air, and I had heard that part of it was from the Laurel refinery. I’m not a scientist, just a breather.

        • Jesse Homs

          I did notice when I used to travel from Bozeman to Billings that I would get a scratchy throat down there, which is purely anecdotal. I don’t know any details and have no scientific expertise, which is what is sorely needed to have this discussion. I know that the refineries and city fathers are aware of the SO2 controversy, and that the city is not powerful enough to take them on, which is why we have an EPA, and why the Right wants do away with it, being tools and all.

          • Pogue Mahone

            I will tell you this. I have been in one helluva lot of places, many with very nasty air. But Billings Heights near the refineries is the ONLY place that I have ever seen where the air was unbreatheable. I remember one time staying at my inlaws in the summer. I was lying in bed with the window open. It was a terribly hot night as it sometimes gets in Billings in the summer time. And suddenly, I was jolted awake by the noxious fumes entering my lungs. I jumped up and immediately shut the windows even though it was still terribly hot in the house.

            It was not like this every night, but when conditions where just right, I would DEFY anyone to breathe that “air”. I can’t imagine how the people in Lockwood who were basically downwind managed.

            We lived over on Caroline St. which was much farther north, so we got our air right off the prairie from the west winds. We mostly always had clean air, much cleaner than in Billings itself.
            Also, since Billings sits in a valley, the air inversions can produce some nasty conditions. The pollution there was worse than in many big cities.

  3. Jesse Homs

    Engineers and scientists who manage these affairs are often enough apolitical* but aware of the hostility that exists in the wake of Valdez and The Gulf, and so are incentivized to make these systems work properly. When they inspected the pipeline they might have been pro forma and perhaps overlooked something – that is the nature of human accidents and cannot be prevented. Shuttles blow up, nuclear plants with four backup systems fail, and pipelines leak.

    Please get on with your life and get over this. Unless you eat food out of your garden and don’t own a car and fly to destinations, you’re part of the system and heavily dependent on pipelines to live the life you love.

    *It’s impossible to be politically progressive and thrive in the corporate environment, so those who might have those impulses simply turn politics off.

    • Pogue Mahone

      I know many folks who’ve moved more than once in their lifetimes to get away from progress, ie. huge numbers of people crowded into a small area thereby destroying not so much the environment but the quality of life. In other words, trying to stay one step ahead of civilization. I myself have done this.

      But I now forsee folks moving from areas of environmental degradation in an attempt to find clean and healthful places to raise their families and live their lives. THESE are the places that are fast becoming less and less available! I mean, my GOD, you can’t even move to Montana any more and expect to live a life free of gratutitous toxins! Where does one move next?

      The Keystone pipeline, the Koch bros. pipe dream, is capable of environmental damage on a massive scale, and it WILL happen. That is the nature of such pipelines in spite of all the happy talk. In fact, the existing Koch pipelines leak all the time.
      So, when the Chamber of Commerce lauds the economic development of such “economic development”, what they leave out is the true cost of such insanity. Spoiled wells and a toxic landscape making one MORE landscape unavailable for human habitation. I’m guessin’ that folks who’ve never lived on well water really have no clue as to what I’m talking about. I have lived on well water most of my life. It’s my reality. When you lose your water, you may as well pick up and move. Of course, one can still drink the tea! The Chamber of Cancer has plent of tthat!

      • Jesse Homs

        Again, Larry, unless you don’t drive, operate power equipment, eat food not grown in your garden, use plastic products, then you are doing your share.

        It reminds me of Ed Abbey complaining about the population explosion, which really underlies everything (and which is caused by food abundance). He had seven kids.

        • As usual, your sanctamonious BS is showing… Like most people in America (especially those that are as condescending as you are), everything has to “all” or “nothing”. It is crap, worse, it is stupid crap. A simple reduction in consumption overall would go a hell of a lot farther than a few people going bugnuts and “going off the grid”. For example –

          My wife and I do grow a lot of our own food. We have two freezers and a cold room that are relatively full after harvest. Further, we tend to buy meat in large quantities, and often do things like purchase a half of a pig (locally) and a half of a steer (locally). We tend to shop at local markets and local meat stores VS the big chain stores when we can. We are also planting more fruit and vegetable sources each year.

          To reduce our energy footprint (not that ours is all that large to begin with), we set goals for ourselves to meet. This year, we decided we wanted to reduce our summer footprint by 1/3. We have – so far – not only done that, we have exceed that by reducing it by 1/2. We have replaced all our lights with high effeciency lights, created an airflow through the house that is self sustaining (to reduce the amount of electricity needed to cool the house when it hits 95+), we have enhanced our natural lighting so we need less lighting, as well as a variety of other small projects. This winter, we are shooting for a 1/3 reduction in our energy costs, too. Much of this work is actual modifications to our house and yard, and much of it costs real money so we have to pace ourselves, but the end results are already not only saving us money, we are reducing our footprint on the energy grid.

          Unless we have to make a trip to Butte, Bozeman or Missoula (there are some things we simply can’t get here and our health insurance requires us to use some doctors and professionals only available out of town), we quite comfortably get around on less than 30$ of gas a month. I don’t drive at all, and my wife literally works a few minutes away by foot. Our van is fairly fuel efficient (25 city, 32 highway) and we coordinate our trips so we do all our running around at one time. Most of the work I do on the house involves hand tools or smaller power tools so even our house upgrades don’t make a large footprint. I have always been fairly energy efficient in my business (knife and sword making) because it is simply less costly – meaning I don’t have to charge as much for my wares.

          In the end, we save a great deal of money on energy and as we continue to upgrade our house (and our lives) we will save more. Do we live off the grid? Certainly not, but I would bet donuts to dollars we use a HELL of a lot less energy than you do, Mark. Other projects we want to accomplish in the next year or so are replacing the windows in the downstairs with more energy efficient windows, completing the leveling of our family room floor (including adding more insulation to that space), adding insulation to our roof and attic areas so it is easier to heat/cool the upstairs, and replacing the natural gas heater in the family room with a convection wood burning stove. Since there is a lot of beetle kill in the area and I know who to talk to for a permit to harvest it, we will replace the natural gas cost with burning beetle kill wood.

          Mark, you have been a pox on the Montana Blogs for years now, It is time people called you on your “better than thou” crap. Larry had a point and you missed it. Instead, you insulted him, harassed him (with a completely bogus argument, BTW) and added nothing to the conversation. As was said to you at Cowgirl’s site recently, please, just go away. We won’t miss you.

          • Carfreestupidity

            Moorcat… I applaud you for undertaking such an endeavor, not only do energy efficiency improvements save you money and lesson your ecological footprint, they give you a great deal of satisfaction from taking a small part of your destiny into your own hands. A lot of what you describe are the same steps I have taken in my own life.

            However, at the individual level there is only so much that can be done. In our names there is a whole energy delivery, transportation, and government infrastructure system that exists to supply the American dream, that ain’t going away anytime soon. If each Americans share of all that public infrastructure is calculated, a person’s carbon footprint comes out to be 8.5 tons per year. (Gutowski et al., “Environmental Life Style Analysis (ELSA))

            It is not enough to change one’s own behavior, the system as a whole must change and adapt.

            • CFS, the argument could be made that the infrastructure of which you write is “in our name” only speciously anymore. It exists at this point to serve the very people who claim we want it provided, and so we continue with gas and oil subsidies that actually serve no purpose to us.

              In truth, I think that changing individual behavior is the only way to change and adapt the system. On the Twitter, there are multiple calls to boycott Exxon right now. Fine, let’s promote Shell and see if anything gets better. The only way a boycott works on an industry necessary for infrastructure demand is to change the demand, and that’s what (I think) my brother is calling for. The only other options are to socialize energy transfer and production, increased regulation, in which accidents will still happen and still cause outrage, or do nothing, ever the Libertarian way. The first of those appears a pipe-dream as long as we serve the industry and not vice-versa. No offense, but that is the argument you made, though I doubt you support it. The second has been tried and will remain illusive until the conditions of the first are met. The third is the status quo. Not only have we subsidized and failed to extract tax from Exxon Mobil, but now we will likely be footing much of the bill for the ‘clean up such as it is’ of the Yellowstone river.

              But, if we make it evident to those who provide those necessary elements of infrastructure and to those politicians who serve them (~Dennis Rehberg~) that we are willing to change and adapt to a newer and better future, they will have to change and adapt as well given market forces. My brother is on the right path, and getting angry at those stooges who tell us that we shouldn’t care about our choices because we’re to blame as much as any other is part of that path. Mark effectively said “la-dee-da, don’t fret over what happened in the Yellowstone river because really it’s your fault, silly unhappy person.” No, it’s really not our fault, not if we see a way to change our behavior and help the whole because of it.

              • Carfreestupidity

                I agree with you up to a point. Changing one’s behavior is certainly the first step that should be made and I’m not trying to diminish your brother’s contributions in any way.

                You talk about shifting the market by changing demand. All right, how much of the population can you expect to do the type of analysis, planning, investment, and construction that your brother describes? how many would even understand the concept of applying the physics of air flow to cooling one’s house? Much easier to just crank the AC. My guess is about 10-15% of all Americans would be willing to undertake what your brother is doing and probably less have the means or the knowledge to follow through. That’s a niche market which is nice but in the bigger picture doesn’t reach the critical mass needed to shift the market.

                So we need laws that help to make clean energy cheaper than coal. That means privatizing the external costs (pollution, health effects, etc) of carbon heavy technologies. That’s the opposite of socialization, it’s making the true cost of operation effect the bottom line of private business instead of the public subsidizing dirty energy by allowing the, to continue to dump pollutants in the commons with little consequences to their business. That seems like the exact opposite of socialization.

          • Carfreestupidity

            One more thing Moorcat.

            Since I gather you are an engineer type, there is a cool tool to calculate energy efficiency of a house.


            It’s a computer model that takes in variables like types of windows, shade trees, insulation ratinng, ect. And can calculate how much each project will save you over the life time of the house.

            I used it on my house and figured it’s deisgn is about 60% more efficient than one that is simply built to code

          • Jesse Homs

            Sounds a little sanctimonious to me. Your mentally ill brother wants me gone too, and I know Democrats don’t like being called out for being the big problem and you know, I don’t care?

            What I gathered from my exchange within you at MTCG was that you are a little short in the intellectual ammo department and excuse yourself by claiming some sort of comprehension disability. It’s coming out as self-righteous indignation, but it’s all you, buddy. All you.

            • Sadly, Carefreestupidity understands me much more than you do and I have had far fewer exchanges with him. Yes, I am an engineer type (I have studied – and worked – in the Nuclear Engineering field, the Mechanical engineering field, the electrical engineering field and the Micro Architecture field). I freely admit, I am not as socially skilled as many who comment here (I find “things” easier to understand than people) but I also recognise an idiot when I run into one. You, Mark, fit that bill to a “T”. It is interesting that you would bring up our exchange at MTCG. I informed you (when you went all spelling nazi) that I have a disorder called Dysgraphia. This disorder is often associated with ADHD (about 78% of all adults with ADHD suffer from either Dyslexia or Disgraphia). Your lack of even understanding the disorder is obvious given your comment about “comprehension disability”. Dysgraphia is technically a “communication disability” where the person has a problem tranlating thought to a written (and yes, that includes typing) form. In essence, the brain is operating too fast for the hands to coordinate and words/letters are missed, words are mispelled, and letters are transposed. It is far more common than people think because dysgraphia is easier to adjust to for the individual than dyslexia is so it is easier to hide. There is nothing wrong at all with my “intellectual ammo department”, thank you very much. You can go now.

              • Jesse Homs

                You really don’t get that I was toying with you over there? You went off on me ambush-style, and used the word “timber” when you should have used “timbre.” It was not a typo – you really didn’t know that there were two words, as when people say “presidential timbre” it could almost be taken to mean “high quality wood.” Common mistake.

                But then you come back and say “I’ve got this illness” poor you. You are so overbearing, so humorless, so self-serious that toying with you is just a delight. You’re still reacting.

                Reminds me – I’ve never read a word that has a Kailey in self-reflective mode. I’ve never read of a joke at your own expense, or humor as someone else had a laugh. Then y’all come on with this “I’m a nuclear engieer” and “I am the best philosophy student in the history of MSU” nonsense.

                It’s taxing, you know? I don’t believe you or anything about either of you other than that you are utterly and painfully boring.

              • Jesse Homs

                Oh yeah, and what’s with working in the the nuclear and engineering “fields”? Why not just the whole lie and say you’re a nuclear or electrical engineer? It’s more believable that way. The only thing I take away from you is that you were in the service.

              • Mark, there is no other way to say this. You are an idiot. Yes, I am quite aware that the words “timber” and “timbre” are different, I just fail to spell them differently because I spell phonetically (unless my wife is at her computer and then I just ask her how to spell a word). Once again, you prove yourself an idiot. Further, the Term “Engineer” has a specific meaning. In most contexts, Engineer denotes a degree. Since I do not have an official degree in any field, even though I have seven years of college accumulated over 30 years, I do not claim the title of “Engineer”. Again, you are wrong. To graduate Nuclear Power School and Nuclear Prototype school, you not only have to master the curriculum of an Associate’s Degree Program in Nuclear Engineering, (unlike a college student), you have to PROVE you have mastered it with six months of practical application. Further, to operate a reactor in the Navy, you have to continue to prove that mastery every year during an Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam. It is one of the reasons the US Navy has NEVER had a nuclear accident.

                You continue to prove you are an idiot every time your small mind attempts to spew it’s delusional drivel on the internet. Please go away and let the big boys talk. I will ignore you, as most others do from now on.

              • PLEASE do not engage trolls. When you speak to them they speak back.

                It’s like the number 1 rule of blogging. There’s a few in this thread that need to learn that.

              • Jesse Homs

                You left out Colombia under the pseudonym ” War on Drugs”. Also, Bahrain, where the fifth fleet is docked, has been under brutal repression with Saudis doing US business. Make it 8?

                The war making is to be expected. The Arab spring threatens US backed dictators (Egypt has come alive again, seeing that there has been no real change.) The “killing” of the long-dead Osama signaled a shifting of resources as it became apparent that “stability” was threatened. In Libya, Qaddafi had tried to shake down the oil companies. In Yemen, we want the thug to stay in power. Afghanistan, which is really all about Pakistan, is seen as something that can be back-burnered until the other uprisings are put down. (Oh yeah, and Syria – that uprising is a good uprising, and so gets news coverage.)

                But I think your fatal failing at this point, L, is to fantacize that we affect foreign policy by electoral politics. The president is more like the Queen than an actual decider. It is important, for sake of domestic tranquility, that we believe him to be in charge. But if you cannot see by looking at US foreign policy say just from 1989 to present that it is consisten, unaffected by elections, then you are not thinking it through. Bush did not decide to invade Iraq, Obama has no say about Libya or any other war going on. His only job is to sell it to the public. He’s not very good at his job, is he.

    • Exxon no doubt hired people like you to inspect the pipes. And obviously the thought of turning them off under the immense pressure would be gross stupidity for a gd Capitalist.

      In light of the Ignorant remarks here: ‘because we eat fish and drive a car we cannot be pointing fingers’ – Dude – put your head back in the sand.

  4. Ingemar Johansson

    Riverbeds levels change.

    Pipeline levels don’t.

  5. evdebs

    Don’t get your hopes up with “3rd party inspectors.”

    We have enough trouble keeping county, state and federal workers from being corrupted by the industries they’re paid to regulate. Third party inspectors are much more likely to go along to get along.

    I follow for-profit prison monitors all over the country. I have only found a single state that’s doing its job and the third party monitors, like those hired by the state of Alaska, are easily the worst.

    • Which State is up to Regulations?

      The Problem is Capitalism. It cannot be fixed it must be removed –

      That ‘3rd Party’ thing is like ‘Blackwater’ all in it for personal gain ~ i wish them all a firery bloody death.

  6. i cannot help but believe that Repugs and T-klanners can’t get enuff of this Capitalist Slime and NOT a single one of them on this thread makes but working poor to slightly better wages…Yet they all delight in the “Kock-amaymee” Capitalist Schemes… They are not very bright from birth i have to believe.

    • Ingemar Johansson

      Hey Einstein. If you saving money for college, retirement, or a Chevy Volt, you’re a capitalist.

      You living in a cardboard box?

    • Jesse Homs

      Brazil has a state-run oil company that is extremely efficient. What should we call that?

  7. We might think of this as a paper or plastic moment…which packaging is more sustainable? Are pipelines or bug trees more precious?

  8. CFS, I’m continuing down here because I’m fat and there’s more breathing room … ;-)

    You and I are not far apart in view, but I think you mistake message for function. Regulating carbon emission is precisely socialism because it requires a shared agreement that carbon emission is detrimental to the whole, and must be regulated as if to the whole. I ask in all seriousness how this is supposed to work. We currently employ tax credits to those who buy Prius’s, but also give tax credits to trucking companies that prove greater efficiency in transport. Regulation dictates a reversal of that method, taxing more to those who use more carbon. In short, what you are suggesting is that the government artificially shift market forces to accomplish the will of all. Regardless of what tag gets put on it, economically speaking that is socialism. Politically speaking, that’s kind of suicide.

    The part I’m not getting is this:

    we need laws that help to make clean energy cheaper than coal. That means privatizing the external costs (pollution, health effects, etc) of carbon heavy technologies. That’s the opposite of socialization, it’s making the true cost of operation effect the bottom line of private business instead of the public subsidizing dirty energy by allowing the, to continue to dump pollutants in the commons with little consequences to their business. That seems like the exact opposite of socialization.

    That isn’t privatizing costs at all. It is accepting that there is a public cost that has remained unaccounted for and accepting that that is a part of doing business in a particular industry. In the myth, those costs get passed onto consumers and industry changes given lessened consumer demand. However, we exist in a state of industry take and control. Passing costs onto consumers doesn’t offer them choice between competing industry if we have no choice to begin with. Raising the price of my coal generated power will not get me to choose wind power when the market is defined by Kilowatt, and not how that Kilowatt is raised. Montana Power, generated for the most part on clean hydroelectric, was privatized and now I pay as much for that as I would from coal power generated in Arizona. Privatization has led to ‘market monopoly’, not market forces. So, let’s dictate that coal generation carries ‘true cost’ an hydroelectric comes in one cent cheaper (untrue cost). The market demands that we all pay more, and hydro-generators profit take, while there is no real reduction in carbon emission at all. I won’t pay less, and neither will you. Clean generation will profit more than dirty, but the cost to consumer will be approximately the same because we don’t get to pick and choose on the Kilowatt market. We can’t and won’t do anything about the dirty until we remove profit from the equation.

    • Carfreestupidity

      I thinK we generally agree, but are talking at each other from opposite sides.

      I think the individual has more choice then you let on. In my own home I could have chosen electricity or natural gas to provide my hot water, heating, and cooking. I chose natural gas, which is more efficient and thus cheaper even though there was more up front cost in terms of the appliances I chose. The monthly bill from NorthWestern has a market rate right on there for natural gas that varies month. I doubt NorthWestern’s profit margin per unit of gas changes much with the swings in price, but I sure feel the price swings.

      Every month I am also given the choice to get more electricity from “green” sources, I believe that in this case it would be hydro and wind, and would be charged x $ over the normal rate. Two power sources with different generating costs/kilowatt and different costs to the consumer per kilowatt. Reverse that and make wind energy the cheaper option and would you still chose coal?

      As for Montana Power, the reason the price went up is that it was previously a closed market, i.e. Montana. That meant there was a stable balance between supply/demand that was reinforced by State regulation of the utility market. With privization the equation changed, local supply was constant but now supply wasn’t limited to the state, but now included the whole western region. An increase of demand with no increase in local supply which meant that if you want to buy a kilowatt you now have to pay the market rate at which someone from California is willing to pay rather than the Govt regulated rate.

  9. Like Rob, I am going to move my reply down here where I can see what the hell I am posting.

    I disagree that reducing the demand on power is difficult or that the majority of people can’t do it. I might agree that the majority of people might not know how. I have a small advantage in that department because my father was a builder, I have a lot of engineering experience and I was motivated to do it. The most important part is the last.. and therein lies how you get others to do it.

    If a person is motivated enough to accomplish a reduction in usage, it is easy enough to find the information – we do live in the information age. The problem is motivating people to do it. Here is the kicker. I did not go through the trouble of reducing our footprint because it was better for the environment, to get back at the criminal energy companies or to reduce global warming. While I think we have to start making a concerted effort to be more environmentally conscious, while I think that a serious change in demand would make the energy companies have to rethink their industry and while I do understand and believe that Global warming is a problem, I did it for a far more personal and immediate reason – it saves me and my wife money.

    Power costs money. Food costs money. We don’t have a lot of money and if I can reduce our monthly costs for food and energy, we have more money left over at the end of the month.

    This is where a lot of the Left has really missed the boat. You can’t motivate people by concerns that they don’t feel on a personal level. You can’t chant “global warming” or “evil power companies” and expect the average person to take you seriously. What you can do, though, is show how this kind of reduction can effect them personally. Yes, some of the things I have done has actually cost money. In fact, it is unlikely that – this year – the savings we will see will equal the outlay of money we used to get those savings. What we will see, though, is a continuous decline in the monthly bills that WILL add up to a savings. The fact that I am doing what I can to address more global issues is sauce for the goose as it were.

    Also important is that I am talking about it – not just here, but on facebook and my blog. You would not believe the number of people who asked me how we accomplished what we did – in detail. Hell, tonight Britt and I showed a friend of her’s from work how she can save time and money by planting her potatoes in bins instead of planting them in the ground. It sounds simple but when you are talking about spending a day to harvest the same amount of potatoes that I can harvest in literally an hour, it makes a difference. Always remember this phrase (I happily stole it from an engineer friend of mine) “Time is the one resource you will never have any more of”. As more people discuss ways to make their lives better – that also coincedentally make their footprint smaller – the more people will buy into the idea. It can be done, it has been done and it HAS to be done if we are going to institute a basic change to our society.

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