Duke Energy and other advocates for building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have come up with a peculiar new justification for the $5 billion project – climate change.

They say this winter’s record-setting run of sub-freezing temperatures led to a spike in natural gas demand and prices that shows the value of expanding the region’s access to natural gas.

Duke Energy’s North Carolina President David Fountain said in a recent op-ed, “The sustained record cold temperatures were a stark reminder of how important this project is for North Carolina families and businesses. The heavy demand to heat residential homes, hospitals and industrial buildings to protect from the freeze caused natural gas prices to soar due to constrained delivery infrastructure.”The point has a surface logic, but it fails upon deeper examination.

Despite the claims of climate-change deniers, colder winters do not refute global warming, they reflect it. Scientists explain that a loss of arctic ice caused by a warming atmosphere weakens wind patterns that normally keep the arctic air mass farther north. That change allows arctic air to come farther south, thus the record lows in North Carolina even as the overall atmosphere is warming. That brings us to the irony of Duke Energy citing the blast of extra cold air as a reason to increase the burning of fossil fuels that cause global warming.

The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline will originate in West Virginia, travel through Virginia and then continue south into eastern North Carolina, ending in Robeson County. That pipeline advocates focus on a short-term issue – a spike in natural gas prices – is part of a broader failure to respond to long-term patterns. And the failure is especially true of Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, and Dominion Energy of Virginia, a partner in proposing the pipeline.

Read more:

The News & Observer – Ned Barnett – 01.20.18

Posted by: Nelson Bailey

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