Letter: Response to Merle letter regarding C2D

A recent June 19 letter in the “Dubois County Free Press” Greg Merle, President of Riverview Energy, described the opposition’s point of view to the proposed direct coal hydrogenation project in Dale, Indiana as “propaganda” and “a mechanism of control” explaining that “fear is the oldest and most devious method known to man to control a population.”

To take a position that insinuates that we in the community who openly oppose this project are unreasonably biased or intentionally misleading others because we are voicing our legitimate concerns seems to be in itself a “red herring” indicating that there is indeed something dangerous or threatening on the horizon that needs to be addressed. In other words, it is not the opposition that is trying to manipulate the “population.”

On the contrary, to dismiss our opinion as “devious” doesn’t pass “the smell test.” And yet, I’m glad that Mr. Merle chose to use the word “devious” in his description because it allows me to broaden the conversation about his proposal into the realm of morality.

One of the biggest points that Riverview Energy is touting is the monetary gain “which will benefit local businesses, including contractors, restaurants, and lodging in Spencer County and the surrounding area” (source: http://www.riverviewenergy.com/projects/). It would be disingenuous and a little more than naive of me were I to deny the economics involved here.

All of us realize that this alone is the driving force behind the project.

Nevertheless, respect for life, and above all for the dignity of the human person, should be the ultimate guiding norm for any sound economic or industrial progress. The destruction of the environment is a moral crisis that creates “suffering.” By this I mean a state of distress, hardship or compromise to the air, land, water, and especially the human person. Regardless of any steps Riverview plans to takes in order to “protect” our community as a whole, the mere fact that the facility will release more than 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air per year will significantly add to the greenhouse effect, which incontrovertibly, results in meteorological and atmospheric changes ranging from damage to health to the possible future submersion of low-lying lands.

There is a relationship between human activity and the whole of creation. As people of good will, all of us have an obligation to each other. To knowingly and willingly take actions based on selfish economic gain while adding to the ecological hardships that all of us experience shows a callous disregard for order and harmony which govern nature itself without which there can be no peace:

“Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and even the fish of the sea are taken away” (Hos 4:3).

Jack Tuinier
Santa Claus

8 Responses to Letter: Response to Merle letter regarding C2D

  1. daryl hensley July 11, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

    Jack, I am not a big fan of the type of fuel being processed by Riverview Energy but I must push back on your environmental facts a bit. Yes CO2 emissions add to the greenhouse effect but CO2 emissions are food for plant life too. Trees, plants and crops eat CO2 and after digesting it create O2 oxygen. Corn is one of the crops that loves CO2 emissions. I can bore you with all of the facts but the reason why the U. S has the lowest CO2 emissions in the industrial world is our agriculture is benefiting from the CO2. Don’t get me wrong, urban areas don’t have enough plant life to eat all of the CO2 emission generated there but here out in the heartland, we have more than enough plant life to eat up Riverview Energy’s CO2 emissions. Take a look at the NASA pictures in the first link. The amount of oxygen being generated in the corn belt is amazing. The United States does generate a lot of CO2 but what climate scientist with an agenda don’t tell you is how much of those CO2 emissions are used by the regional environmental plant life.

    https://modernfarmer.com/2014/04/nasa-shows-u-s-corn-belt-literally-glowing-productivity/

    http://www.mbgnet.net/bioplants/food.html

    https://www.arborday.org/trees/treefacts/

    “In general, ambient air pollution levels are lowest in high-income countries, particularly in Europe, the Americas and the Western Pacific. In cities of high-income countries in Europe, air pollution has been shown to lower average life expectancy by anywhere between 2 and 24 months, depending on pollution levels.”

    http://ccacoalition.org/en/news/world-health-organization-releases-new-global-air-pollution-data

    http://maps.who.int/airpollution/

    I was not a big fan of the Paris accords because it doesn’t take into effect the CO2 emission consumed by the plant life. The Paris accords wanted the US to pay to clean up other countries who didn’t balance out their emissions with matching plant life protections.

    Daryl Hensley, Jasper IN

    • BP July 12, 2018 at 11:47 am #

      I don’t know that taking plant life into account for CO2 sequestration makes any sense. Plants don’t sequester/store the carbon from CO2 for any real length of time (when the plant dies the biomass decomposes back into CO2 and the food portion is eaten and broken down into CO2 eventually) so really, plants don’t enter into the equation removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

  2. Daryl Hensley July 12, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

    No they don’t store the CO2, plants convert the CO2 by combining water and sunlight and making sugar. BTW plants generate 10 times more oxygen then they use.

    http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=2860

    Daryl Hensley, Jasper IN

    • BP July 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

      I am well aware of the biology. No, they don’t generate oxygen, they use the carbon from CO2 to make cellulose, carbohydrates, and other materials and release the unused oxygen back into the atmosphere as O2. That oxygen is then used by animals and aerobic bacteria to to break down the carbohydrates and cellulose back into carbon dioxide in a cycle. The cycle basically keeps a balance of oxygen and a certain level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The concern is that additional carbon that was sequestered in the crust (in coal and oil) is being released as extra CO2 (yes some atmospheric oxygen is used, I said basically a balance) into the atmosphere causing climate effects. So really plants don’t enter into the atmospheric CO2 concerns unless you were to grow the plants and store the resulting biomass in some permanent way, which there is no talk of. Instead we use the food stuffs and let the inedible parts decompose back into atmospheric CO2, therefore there is absolutely no point in entering crop growing into greenhouse gas negotiations (unless you talk about storing the biomass in a permanent way).

  3. Johnny West July 12, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

    Every ton of carbon that’s extracted and burned puts 3.67 tons of CO2 in the atmosphere. (Which is just one of many reasons why we can’t easily “scrub” CO2 from the atmosphere and put it in the ground: for one thing, we’d have to transfer and store a lot more mass than we started out with.) As most people know, we are deforesting the planet faster than we are replenishing the forests, especially in South America where there is a deforestation rate of a football field size area every hour. That’s 8760 football fields a year, or roughly 6,624 sq. miles. That’s simply the Amazon rain forest, there are many other areas that are being deforested as fast or faster. Africa, Malaysia, Sumatra, New Guinea… our Hoosier Forests are a molecule compared to what we’d actually need to off set what carbon is going to be produced in the coming years. Daryl Hensley’s contention that “we have more than enough plant life to eat up Riverview Energy’s CO2 emissions” is a bit disingenuous in my estimation because that air isn’t going to simply drift around our forests, it’s going to drift with zero controls on that drift. And being much hotter than the surrounding air, it’s mostly likely going to rise and get caught up in higher elevation winds which will then cause it to drift even higher and faster. Simply put, we don’t need more carbon generated on our planet. We need to invest in cleaner energy types and get away from coal. We already have the technology, it’s a tragedy that these companies can’t set up solar and wind farms instead of going the route of dirty coal, over and over, simply because they don’t want to change.

  4. daryl hensley July 13, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    As you can see by the attached article, NASA estimates that 50-55% of human made CO2 emissions are utilized/captured by the land plants and water supply globally. The human CO2 footprint is just .035% of the overall CO2 release on average per year. biomass (vegetation and land) being the biggest release of 439 gigatons (GT), ocean releasing 332 GT’s and fossil fuel burning and land use giving off 29 GT. These figures can change from year to year measurements but do reflect an average.

    https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/page5.php

    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-3.html

    https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle

    I am not a climate change denier. Yes we are experiencing global warming. Are those affects from:

    1. CO2 emissions?
    2. Methane gas and other harmful gas emissions?
    3. A tiny change in the earth’s orbit around the sun?
    4. The reduction in ozone protections?
    5. A combination of the above?

    Even with the additional greenhouse gasses in the air since the industrial revolution 200+ years ago in the U.S., our life expectancy has increased substantially. Spencer, Dubois and Warrick counties male/female life expectancy is above/near the national and state averages.

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus16.pdf#015

    http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/indiana-life-expectancy-by-county-male

    http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/indiana-life-expectancy-by-county-female

    “Regardless of any steps Riverview plans to takes in order to “protect” our community as a whole, the mere fact that the facility will release more than 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air per year will significantly add to the greenhouse effect, which incontrovertibly, results in meteorological and atmospheric changes ranging from damage to health to the possible future submersion of low-lying lands.”

    I believe this statement is a gross misrepresentation of the effect of 2.2M tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. It is fear mongering at its worst and should be rebuked for what it is, an extreme overstatement of what will truly happen in Spencer County.

    Indiana emits 251 Mt a year in CO2 emissions. If this facility releases 2.2 M tons of CO2 a year, it would be less than 1% of the total emissions in the state.

    http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/08/6-charts-understand-us-state-greenhouse-gas-emissions

    Do I think the US should reduce fossil fuel emissions? Yes! should the transition be at a rate that doesn’t cause greater increases in unemployment and government subsidies? Yes! Would I like to see the US reduce its reliance on foreign fossil fuel sources? Yes! I am optimistic that science will eventually tackle the problem of capturing CO2 emissions and cleaning up our air? Yes!

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531346/can-sucking-co2-out-of-the-atmosphere-really-work/

    Daryl Hensley, Jasper IN

  5. Scott Newton July 13, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Hey, “The Truthy” boy. Where did you get your bio-chemistry doctorate? We would all love to hear your personal comments on the above subject, but you don’t belong in this conversation any more than I do.