Many people would like to have a debate about whether energy is good or evil and whether some energy is more evil than others. Some are having protests to encourage others to join this debate. I think it is the wrong debate on the wrong question.
At Questerre we agree that natural gas should be produced properly, that the majority of the benefits should be local, that we have to actively manage environmental impacts and apply new technology to continuously improve. Energy choices are not about good and evil; they are about improving our society and continuing the decarbonization of our economy that has been going on for 200 years.
Here are some questions for the energy debate:
Is production of energy inherently worse than consumption? Once we decide to consume energy we also decide to produce it. We should be talking about the best way to do it.
Should we produce only one type of energy? This is not technically feasible and we know what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. People need to have a secure menu of energy choices and we should be talking about the right balance in our energy diet.
Should we care about the cost of energy? If we spend an extra twenty dollars to fill our car we cannot spend that same twenty dollars on something else. We should be talking about new sources of revenue from existing resources so governments can afford to invest in technology for future energy sources.
Should we care about clean air? According to Health Canada over 8% of the preventable deaths in Quebec and Montreal are due to air pollution, much of which comes from the United States. We should be talking about natural gas that has 80% less NOX, 99% less SOX, 100% less mercury, 100% less lead and 100% less heavy metals than the coal being burned in the United States or the heating oil being burned in Quebec.
Should we care about green house gas emissions? Local production of energy reduces the emissions required to process and transport energy. We should be talking about thinking globally and acting locally to produce the energy we consume.
Is it leadership in the environment to produce the energy we consume in places like Venezuela? Quebec imports almost 50% of its energy. We should be talking about being leaders in the environment so we can control and trust how the energy we consume is produced.