The science of climate change and observation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s statewide New Jersey goals in connection with the proposed expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Compressor Station (TGP) debate need to be studied and responded to, according to retired West Milford teacher Karl Stehle.
He wants the local governing board to rework and then adopt the resolution opposing the proposal that they recently defeated.
Stehle, an environmentalist, advised township officials in a letter that he would be glad to serve on a committee to rework a council resolution to oppose the project. He believes the plan to send natural gas to Westchester County, N.Y. to supply energy to 400,000 homes there is not needed.
“Perhaps the problem with methane gas should be addressed,” Stehle suggested in his letter. “Methane gas is a by-product of natural gas and is 21 times more powerful in trapping heat in the atmosphere than even the more publicized carbon dioxide. Methane, the powerful invisible gas is currently wrecking havoc on our planet and until recently was measured by aircraft (too expensive) small ground based sensors at specific oil and gas locations and even more recently with drones that documented methane loss at fracking locations as well.”
The tracking mechanisms failed to give a complete and accurate assessment of the invisible, heat trapping methane gas, Stehle said.
Satellite technology, developed in part by scientists from the Netherlands, was named Claire and Iris and launched in September 2000. There is constant monitoring every few weeks of a list of methane leaks that normally would have gone undetected.
To compliment these technologies Bluefield Technologies, based in New York City, plans on launching a group of satellites in 2023 designed to pick up methane in larger areas. Congress in 2005 scrapped the NASA satellite mission that would have monitored global emissions.
Stehle sees the need to address “source pollution” and he looks at natural gas as a toxic, heat trapping methane gas. He said methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations of the last several years are far higher than the industry or the environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were aware of.
“It cannot be stated enough that methane is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2) and is clearly more potent as a heat trapping gas and why it is a primary target of the2015 Paris Accord,” Stehle said. “Shame on the EPA for not making this damaging satellite technology public in TGP’s for its proposed compressor station.”
Quoting information from a 2020 report from the University of California in Berkeley, Stehle said the United States has enough gas plants to support a transition to a far cleaner energy source such as solar, wind, geothermal energy and battery storage. Very little is mentioned by the media but electrical companies are planning to build 235 polluting gas-fired power stations across America with 25 proposed plants already under construction, Stehle continued. He said 26 proposed plants are already under construction.
He pointed out that nowhere in a Zoom presentation by a TGP representative for township residents on March 22 was the word methane mentioned. Murphy’s Executive Order 28 has set an ambitious goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Stehle said this goal cannot be achieved if TGP is allowed to build an electric compressor station in West Milford.
Infrastructure and clean jobs
President Biden released his $2 trillion infrastructure plan for the nation on March 29, and on the following day he earmarked New Jersey as recipient of an off shore wind turbine project, Stehle said. The Ocean Wind project is seeking approval by the Orsted Company to build a 1,100 megawatt wind project that could power 500,000 homes annually.
Stehle believes that construction of wind turbines throughout the area would support 25,000 good paying construction jobs between 2022 and 2030 and for eight years with an additional 7,000 jobs to support the industry. He sees these as types of good union paying jobs that are needed not only for New Jersey but for the nation and environment.
Costly, dirty coal burning power plants are shutting down but the electrical companies are planning to build 235 gas-fired power stations across the country, Stehle reported. Financially, the investment in new gas plants would exceed $100 billion and would operate for approximately 30 to 40 years, he said.
The methane gas from their emissions would have a negative impact for the zero emission goals like New Jersey and the Paris Climate Accord. If the companies/governments invest in these new $100 billion gas fired plants, they may be forced to shut down in 10-15 years in order to meet the national and state goals for zero emissions.
His February electric bill: $7.41
On a personal note, Stehle said his home was equipped with solar almost 5 years ago and the February electricity bill there was $7.41. He believes solar is here to stay.