I normally don't write letters to newspapers or other media sources, but recently I felt compelled to write my local rag to voice my opinion of the locat Utilities Authority. To all who may read this and are in my neck of the woods here it is. For all of you from parts unknown, you'll have to bare with me.
I'm getting a bit fed up with the BTMUA, for those who care that's acronym for the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority. I'm hopeful I'm not the only one to remember this but in the not too distant past, a certain Mayor Scarpelli opposed the construction of the new reservoir because he felt it was not in the best interest of the taxpayers of Brick to have to pay the cost of constructing the reservoir. At that time, the BTMUA responded with a statement that the cost would not be borne by the Brick Taxpayers; because it was already accounted for in their previous budgets and they had the money. I want to point out that I'm not a voting Democrat and actually lean more towards the Republican ideology, but it was our Democrat Mayor who voiced his lone opposition. Now, here we are years later with a new reservoir and the BTMUA has announced that they have to raise our rates to pay for the reservoir. Then to really make matters worse, the BTMUA had the nerve to (1) initially restrict access to the walkway surrounding the reservoir, (2) they built a reservoir with fishing platforms but don't intend on stocking the reservoir and (3) they ring the facility with lights from my accounts remain lit most of the night. It was only after a myriad of complaints were voiced that they increased the times when the walkway can be accessed. Furthermore, as a person with bad knees and who prefers bicycling to walking, the further restrictions placed on use of the "walkway" still sticks me like a knife, but I digress, back to the BTMUA: There are continuing stories in every local and regional newspaper reporting on the nepotism and likely corruption. I may sound a bit cynical, but I haven't seen a government or pseudo-government agency yet that didn't practice some sort of nepotism and people are always eluding to corruption. So, I don't understand why everyone is surprise. I take those things for granted. What I don't take for granted are stupid decisions. In the October 6th edition of the Brick Township Bulletin there is a story entitled "Brick will sell water to Howell". This issue has been going on for quite a while, but until recently it remained undecided due to several reasons. The conclusion to sell water to the Parkway Water Company seemed like a good business decision to me (thinking there would be a profit in it), so I did not think to oppose it. But now, unless it is incorrect, the article reports that the Parkway customers will be paying 95% of what the residents of Brick pay, with an explanation that our fees are more because we have to pay the cost of billing, office maintenance, and infrastructure improvements. This just about made my head blow up. In my opinion, the BTMUA should not be spending a minute of time negotiating with any other municipality or water company for the sale of water unless that sale is going to directly offset the cost (read: "lower the rates") to the taxpayers of Brick Township. If this is what my water/sewer bill is paying for (people spending time negotiating arrangements that isn't going to save me money) then I say do away with the BTMUA, absorb the operations and administration into the Township (proposed by Councilperson Kathy Russell; a Democrats) and keep the water for when we (the residents of Brick Township) need it.
So, like I said, if you're from my neck of the woods (like gigglechick), this all makes sense, but if you're from Crox's neck (see my links to other blogs), you won't give a hoot.
I'm hoping I'll have time to post more of my gripes.
Best wishes all.
OK, I'm going to get on my soap box again about oil and other things. It has to do with environmentally friendly energy sources, the U.S. economy and the middle-east crisis. Many believe, as do I, that the war in Iraq is about oil. But, I would also say that it's more exactly about our nation's unquenchable thirst for energy that has us embroiled in this war. I also don't believe any of the hog wash that we're fighting this war to "free the Iraqi people".
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we slow our progress as a nation and learn to live a simpler less energy dependant life, but this is how I see it. If it were not for the oil that is found beneath the middle east (fifty percent of known crude-oil reserves lie buried beneath the sands of the Middle East) we wouldn't be there. Iraq and Kuwait possess oil reserves of nearly 200 billion barrels between them. If providing freedom and/or eliminating weapons were the key factors, there are many other places on God's green Earth that could use our attention, but none of them are given anywhere near the attention they deserve because these countries have no natural resource that our country and our citizens desire and our corporations can exploit.
I don't mean to sound like a communist or an anti-capitalist, but I just don't see the point in the loss of life due to the war and loss of jobs due to our misguided use of oil as a energy source. American citizens must realize that we are all contributing to the continuation of the armed conflict every time we use energy that is generated from a foreign source of petroleum.
At this point, many would and are saying "Then let's look at increasing domestic sources of petroleum" (i.e. exploration in the Alaskan Wilderness). I say no to that and this brings me to environmentally friendly energy sources. The same way all of us are contributing to the continuation of the armed conflict every time we use energy that is generated from a foreign source of petroleum, we are all contributing to the degradation of the planet's atmosphere and our planet's ability to sustain us by using any source of fossil fuel. What many people don't realize is that our action won't actually destroy the earth, they will only make it uninhabitable by humans...life will go on just without us.
So, this is where I want to talk about Ethanol. Many say Ethanol has already been tried in other countries and it failed. But, I would like to point out that it failed when it had to compete against petroleum as an energy source. What if our nation converted completely to Ethanol? What would the value of petroleum be? Do you think OPEC could demand $50 per barrel? I doubt it. As the number one consumers of petroleum and damn near everything else on the planet, we the U.S. could call the shots. We could even possibly produce enough Ethanol to out compete petroleum in other markets and petroleum would go the way of whale oil.
No longer would it be necessary to station tens of thousands of our citizen soldiers in the Middle East, in particular the Islamic holy land (this fact, if I can be allowed to digress a little, further exacerbates the situation because it is in violation of Islamic Law to have non believers or Infidels in their holy land, even when the soldiers are not in direct combat. Thus, our presence infuriates the fundamental Muslims, which leads them to considering ways of attacking our citizens), no longer would we be reliant upon a foreign source of energy and no longer would we, the number one consumers, be polluting our atmosphere with carbon from a fossil fuel.
Before I review the environmental impacts, let me jump to the U.S. economy. Let's again explore what would have to happen if the U.S. converted from petroleum to Ethanol for energy production. We would, of course, need more Ethanol generation facilities. That would result in a boom of jobs in construction, operations and administration. We would also need to revamp our delivery infrastructure (Ethanol doesn't "like" some of the rubber and plastic products found in gasoline delivery systems). So, again more jobs. Now wait a minute! Isn't Ethanol produced from grain? And isn't grain grown by farmers? And aren't many U.S. farms going bankrupt? Can you say "more American farmers making a good living"? Furthermore, the American farm industry receives billions of dollars in subsidies each year. What if we eliminate the need for farm subsidies and instead put the farmers to work growing a needed commodity like grain to produce Ethanol? Can you say "billions of tax dollars in tax relief or in the short term, divert the money to develop sustainable, non-petroleum energy"? for more on farm subsidies go to: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1340
But, what about my home you say? My house is heated by natural gas, which is derived from petroleum. I can't switch to Ethanol for that, can I? I'm not a chemist of physicist, but natural gas predominantly consists of methane. I would suggest that we can burn Ethane (Ethanol Gas) just as easily as Methane. I welcome a more knowledgeable mind to respond.
Let's talk about our environment again. Others would say Ethanol doesn't solve the greenhouse gas issue (caused by the release of carbon dioxide as a byproduct of combustion). As a matter of fact, some people go as far as to say it will make it worse. This stems from the molecular structure of Ethanol as compared to petroleum. The Methane molecule is pretty simple; it consists of one atom of Carbon and four atoms of Hydrogen (CH4), whereas the Ethanol molecule consists of two Carbon atoms, six Hydrogen atoms and one atom of Oxygen. So, I've read some people postulate the combustion of Ethanol would release two Carbon atoms for every one released by burning Methane. But, the key here is the source of the carbon dioxide. Ethanol is a renewable resource and not a fossil fuel. Meaning it works with nature's Carbon Cycle. The only time Carbon Dioxide becomes a problem in the atmosphere is when we dump more Carbon in than is supposed to be there. This happens with the use of fossil fuels. As "fossils", petroleum products are sources of carbon that are supposed to be locked up deep beneath the planet 's surface, not released into our atmosphere. By using a renewable energy source we're not in conflict with the carbon cycle (unless consumption outweighs production, meaning we burn more than we grow).
Some have argued that farmers burn diesel fuel to power their tractors to grow the grain to produce Ethanol. In addition, there are some energy needs that could not be met with the use of Ethanol. I give you Thermal Depolymerization (a.k.a Thermal Conversion) and/or bio-diesel. As seemingly perfected by Changing World Technologies, this Thermal Depolymerization converts waste materials to an oil that can be burned as fuel. This not only provides a method to solve an energy need, it also lessons the need to dispose of wastes in our nation's ever dwindling landfill space. Currently, my understanding is CWT is processing animal carcasses and the like into clean oil, but the technology is supposedly also capable of converting almost any waste material into oil. I would propose that the process could also be used on restaurant wastes. Again we, the U.S. citizen, spend more money on eating out than any other nation. As a consequence, the restaurant industry generates a mountain of waste material that is typically non-recyclable, but which contains a high percentage of biodegradable and plastic materials. It seems to me a good fit. Now again, to make this a viable energy producing solution there would need to be more plants constructed, meaning more jobs in construction, operations and administration.
Now a little about bio-deisel; this product is derived from waste oil taken from restaurants. There are some limitations to it's use, like you can't start your engine with it, but once it's started a diesel engine can burn it just as easy as petroleum. A limitation yes, but it can certainly reduce our demand for petroleum.
Some people are pushing the use of Hydrogen Fuel Cells? This technology looks to be a winner, right? It converts a fuel containing Hydrogen to energy at nearly 50% efficiency as compared to combustion of petroleum which is below 20% efficient. The problem here is that most of the current research into developing fuel cells relies on petroleum, or more exactly natural gas, as there source of hydrogen. The cure here is again Ethanol. As I pointed out earlier, Ethanol has six hydrogen atoms, five of which are available for energy conversion in a fuel cell.
Another interesting option for fuel cells has been developed in Japan, where they've come up with a "home fuel cell". This little gem, although it currently relies on natural gas, can not only supply a home with most of its electricity, but it can also help to solve another problem in America: our aging electrical power grid. With generation of a good portion of its energy demand locally, each home would reduce the demand on our aging power grid. Combine this with solar panels and a home owner could theoretically eliminate its demand on the public system altogether. For more on home fuel cells go to:http://web-japan.org/trends/science/sci030723.html
I apologize for how fragmented this is. There is much more I could write, but instead let me finish with this: Let's take back our freedom, our economy, and our peace of mind. Let's change our source of energy, save our country and save our planet's ability to sustain humanity. I hope we all agree.