Energy, the Environment, and Public Policy: Issues for the 1990s

By David L. McKee | Go to book overview

5 It's Not Easy Being Green

FRANK E. MOSIER

This volume will have a lot to say about energy, the environment, and public policy. As a businessman and more than that, an oilman, I may be considered by some to be part of the problem. That's true, but whether anyone agrees with me or not, oilmen also have to be part of the solution. It's not easy being green in the energy business but we are. And if we businessmen aren't yet green enough to suit everybody, we'll get there. Some of us will be pulled, kicking, and screaming. Others will sulk and remain silent, but tag along. And some very fortunate businessmen will have the time of their lives along the way.

We in the oil business know that we deal with hazardous materials at all times. Our raw materials are hazardous, flammable, and may be toxic. The processes we use are hazardous. They generally are conducted at high temperatures and pressures, with high concentrations of hydrogen and explosive materials. The products and by-products are also frequently explosive, flammable, and can be very toxic. If not managed well, they can do great harm to the environment, to animals, and to humans.

The definition of a hydrocarbon is a mixture of carbon and hydrogen. Messing with hydrogen is nothing more or less than messing with a bomb. So let's get rid of all oil and gas. We'll use coal instead. Except coal has its own hazards and is even more polluting than oil and gas. Why not switch to pure methanol made from natural gas? Methanol has a dirty little secret of its own: formaldehyde. Perhaps we can go rural and switch to ethanol--alcohol from grain. If you used all the grain on earth, you couldn't make enough ethanol to run half the cars in the United States, and ethanol is just as nasty as oil and gas, only in different ways.

-47-

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