I like many other energy professionals spent a great deal of time yesterday participating in an event that had been sponsored by the Vail Valley Foundation in Beaver Creek, CO. entitled , 2012 Vail Global Energy Forum. They had a great many well known political personalities in attendance as speakers for the event such as Colorado Governor; John Hickenlooper and Colorado Senator; Mark Udall as well as former US Secretary of State; George P. Schultz. Even the president of Stanford University; John L. Hennessy was in attendance to assist in promoting their agenda. A very nice flyer had been created for the event and they even broadcast it on Live Streaming video along with a Twitter feed which we had been led to believe was to be used for submitting our own questions to the panelists for answers in what was advertised as a forum on the topic of Energy. At first glance, this event sparked our interest as one of the key statements on their flyer stated simply, “Satisfying the world demand for clean, secure and affordable energy presents one of the greatest challenges of the century. It also presents a global opportunity. The breakthrough research being done in the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford is addressing this challenge to find working solutions through technologies that are sustainable and affordable.”
Our curiosity was peaked at the lack of any actual Energy sources being sighted on this flyer and admittedly we assumed that they would be discussing a wide variety of new technologies which to any energy professional presents an exciting opportunity. However, from the events very first speaker Gov. Hickenlooper it became quickly apparent that this particular event was going to focus solely on one energy source and only once energy source. Natural Gas. Oh they did have speakers such as former US Secretary of State, George P. Schultz who made mention of his new electric powered car and the fact that he himself had solar panels on his home and he even brought an example of what the US Marine Corps had developed in the form of a new style of portable solar panels which he unfolded before the audience to show how easily it could be deployed but even the core of his monologue focused again on natural gas. We had posted numerous tweets during the course of this event trying to get at least one of the speakers to address some of the major concerns of natural gas fracking methods such as the numerous cases that have been exposed such as ground water tables being contaminated by the fracking fluids used in this process. Still more questions were posted regarding the irresponsible release of these methane gases directly into our atmosphere by personnel operating the gas compression stations but unfortunately all of these questions seemed to be getting ignored entirely as they continued on as though the attending internet audience wasn’t there at all.
They even brought in a Bank of America guru who ran through all of the numbers of profitability for global export of nature gases extracted in the US which they plan to send overseas for resale. Granted, natural gas is in fact far safer for our atmosphere than anything a coal powered power plant can manage and if it could be harvested safely without threatening our air and water I would have nothing negative to say about it at all. But facts are facts, and I am sure the people who live in towns like Pavillion, WY whose entire ground water table has been literally poisoned entirely by the very fluids used in fracking in and around their city would tell you differently. What struck me the most was when they started discussing the security of this energy source as they completely ignored any discussion of water or air contamination through their irresponsible extraction methods in that I had to wonder what is going to happen when water sources in populated areas where they are also fracking disappear. How secure is that energy source or virtually anything else going to be then? Without clean air and water, society as we know it will also no longer exist and I think it is safe to say you can throw out any idea that security at this point is really going to matter much.
So in conclusion I would have to say that this event which they charged $100 per ticket to attend was little more than one very elaborate marketing sales pitch for natural gas. There really was no forum in its true sense of the term that entertained any questions outside of the topic of natural gas and they certainly did not address any of the numerous questions regarding the issues with their extraction methods which to date have literally devastated entire communities as a result. A word to the organizers of this or any future events of this nature. The large majority of energy professionals are very interested in Energy Security, Sustainability and Carbon Reductions but next time you plan one of these shindigs and decide to call it a “Forum” you really should format the entire scheduled event to actually be a forum and not the sham I witnessed which was little more than a sales pitch designed to talk people into accepting it and all of its enormous technological flaws.