Drill, Baby, Drill


Not too long ago this was the rallying cry of several important people running for the highest offices in our Nation. How foolish does it sound now? The days of cheap, readily accessible oil are gone.

How many more reminders are we going to need before we come to grips with this reality? How many more oil spills do we need? How many more coal miners must die or mountain tops leveled? How much more ground water must be polluted by natural gas exploration?

How long will we continue to experiment with the climate of our globe? Recent studies show that our oceans are rapidly reaching their capacity to absorb CO2, and are becoming too acidic to support the base of the food chain. Another study shows that lobsters are leaving Buzzards Bay because the mean water temperatures are too high.

I believe that we are all responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf to some extent because we all expect cheap energy to power our lives. Our current track is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable. It's time we realized we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but, more importantly, future generations to use energy more wisely and to develop alternative forms of energy as vigorously as possible.

Nobody ever said the transition would be inexpensive but when you add in the health and environmental costs to burning fossil fuels, renewable energy is a bargain and it is the equivalent of investing in economic development.

Matt Patrick, State Representative, 3rd. Barnstable District.


June 15, 2010

Ann Berwick, Chair
Mass. Department of Public Utilities
Boston, MA
RE: DPU 10-54 National Grid/Cape Wind Contracts

Dear Chairwomen Berwick and Commissioners Woolf and Westbrook,

I believe we must be realistic about our need as a nation to change our current fossil fuel usage that is neither environmentally nor financially sustainable. Our current course is a dead end and the catastrophe now happening in the Gulf is one in a long line of damaging symptoms we are inflicting on the planet and ourselves.

We are all somewhat responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because we demand to have cheap gasoline, heating oil and all the petro chemicals that are used to make the plastic products and grow the food we demand. Peak oil is just around the corner if not here already and oil that is readily accessible is now gone. That's one of the reasons we are drilling a mile under water to get oil. Heavy tax subsidies make it feasible. After peak oil, the price of it will climb to a point that it will be impossible to heat homes or run our current fleet of light vehicles.

Just recently we have seen how cheap coal costs lives and does untold damage to the environment by leveling entire mountains and burying and poisoning streams. Natural gas exploration is doing untold damage to ground water supplies. And of course, all fossil fuels contribute to global climate change.

Global climate change is real and we are already seeing its impact in the form of more violent hurricanes. Our oceans are becoming more acidic killing off coral and the microscopic plankton that forms the basis of our food chain. Even the oceans have a maximum capacity for absorbing CO2. All damage is caused by our profligate use of fossil energy.

For those who say that oil drilling is not relevant to today's discussion, the power capacity of our 175 million light vehicles is 24 times larger than the nation's entire electric generation system according to the Council of State Governments. If we could convert just one fourth of our fleet to electric vehicles, the power stored in their batteries would be about the same as the entire generation of the grid. The battery storage of electric vehicles would work very well with wind energy which tends to generate electricity at night when our usage is down and thus help us adopt intermittent renewables like wind and cut emissions by 80 percent for each electric vehicle. I intend to file legislation next session to set up the regulations and incentives to prepare Massachusetts for the conversion of our light vehicle fleet to electricity. Electric vehicles are four times more efficient than gasoline powered vehicles. That is why Cape Wind is directly related to the production of oil and the transportation sector of our economy.

In addition, we should remember that all the health and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels are not currently included in the price. Fossil fuel exploration and generation have been heavily subsidized by the Federal Government for decades. Estimates of $20 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels are conservative. If the health and environmental impacts were included in the price of fossil fuel generated electricity, it would be much more expensive. Therefore, the price for Cape Wind generated electricity is quite reasonable due to its benign impact on the environment.

I am proud of the efforts the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has made to reverse our dependence on fossil fuels. The Green Communities Act and the Regional Greenhouse Gas legislation are monumental tributes to the people of Massachusetts who looked to the future and set an example of what can and should be done.

Thank you for your consideration,


Matthew C. Patrick, State Representative, Third Barnstable District.

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