Press "Enter" to skip to content

Energy Potpourri: Teens Drive Less, Bakken Stays North, Nuns Go Green

My browser tabs are out of control: time to dump some energy notes!

1. I mentioned yesterday that kids are driving less, in part because they get their connection fix online. I notice this downtown in Madison: nobody drags Main anymore! But USA Today cites two other major factors that promise less U.S. demand for oil on our highways:

Sivak also said the difficult economic times during the recession contributed, making it more difficult for younger people to buy and maintain cars. Also, more young people are moving to large cities where public transportation reduces the need to drive [Brent Snavely, "Fewer Teens Want to Drive Yet Automakers Court Them," USA Today, 2012.07.21].

Perhaps economic and demographic factors will end the American love affair with the automobile and boost our transportation energy efficiency. Maybe our "war on fossil fuels" won't ever raise gasoline prices; we'll simply win by default as young people realize they don't need gasoline to get around.

2. Less demand for oil shouldn't dampen South Dakotans' enthusiasm for spillover from North Dakota's Bakken oil boom; geology and economics should:

Despite speculation, widespread hope and some worry that North Dakota's oil rush may balloon across the border, experts say it's doubtful South Dakota will experience anything remotely close.

Case in point: South Dakota has produced about 1.6 million barrels of oil annually for the past four years, an official with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said. North Dakota pumps that amount in just more than two days.

On Thursday, North Dakota had 210 rigs drilling. South Dakota had a single rig piercing the prairie.

Geology is the difference. The rich Bakken shale formation, where oil-producing rock is sandwiched between layers of shale nearly two miles underground in western North Dakota, is not present in South Dakota.

The Three Forks formation below the Bakken in North Dakota does reach into South Dakota, but has gone largely unexplored. Geologists and oil companies are split over whether it's a separate oil-producing reservoir or if it simply catches oil leaking from the Bakken above.

For drillers in North Dakota's Bakken region, dry holes are a rarity. State and industry officials say 99 percent of drill rigs hit oil and nine out of 10 wells make money. Since drillers are virtually assured of a profitable well there, they have little time to bother with unknown prospects across the border, Iles said.

"Why in the world would you uproot drilling rigs and move them to South Dakota when the success rate is 99 percent in North Dakota?" Iles said [James MacPherson, "South Dakota Oil Potential Dampened by North Dakota's Record Bonanza," AP via Bismarck Tribune, 2012.07.19].

Stick with sheep, fellas: don't bank on a big Bakkenalia in Buffalo.

3. The Presentation Sisters in Aberdeen aren't waiting for the Lord to bless us all with cheap oil. They're saving money by getting power straight from the face and breath of God:

The sisters at Presentation Convent are getting a helping hand from nature paying the electric bill in the form of wind and sunlight.

A wind turbine and 125 solar panels at the convent generate more than 40,000 watts of energy, making up about 12 percent of the energy used and saving about $35,000 annually.

"It's more of a statement and there to make energy," Sister Pam Donelan, president of the Presentation Sisters in Aberdeen, said of the turbine [Calvin Men, "Powered by Nature," Aberdeen News, 2012.07.23].

I do love to see nuns in green habits.


  1. larry kurtz 2012.07.25

    Lake Sakakawea and the Missouri River are casualties of the War on the West:

    “One of the world’s foremost environmental activists visited the Cheyenne River Reservation July 11-17 to consult with the tribe on a proposal for using flood compensation money to restore the local water cycle in the wake of Missouri River damming here.” Native Sun News

    Gaia: I pray that you cleanse the prairie of invasive species.

  2. Julie Gross (Nebraska) 2012.07.25

    $35000 savings? I don't think so. They may save that much on their electric bill, but...

    Once one figures in the cost of the turbine and the panels, amortize them over their 15-20 year lifetimes, you are going to pay more than you are saving now and in the next 15-20 years.

    One would hope that the good sisters would think long term--truly a green outlook. It's disappointing that a centuries old religious order full of educated women would not be more financially careful.

  3. Julie Gross (Nebraska) 2012.07.25

    Cleanse the prairie of "invasive species"?

    You're not referring to the Cheyene Tribe, are you?

  4. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.07.25

    If Christians are invasive, archeology shows us that Cheyenes (and Sioux, Pawnee, Ojibwe, Ponca) were invasive too.

    Heck we all invasive, right? Unless you don't believe in evolution or archeology.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.07.25

    Dave Heineman is an earth hater.

  6. Justin 2012.07.25

    I'll give Heineman credit for one thing, he didn't bow to giving Keystone XL tax money. There's only one governor with a clandestine fund in the affected three state area that did. The fact that the others didn't makes it that much worse. (Does anybody think they would have built around SD?)

  7. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.07.25

    I meant anthropology, which does involve some archeology I suppose.

  8. Justin 2012.07.25

    Yes Julie, my college roommate is an archaeologist, and yes, he is in the anthropology department wherever he goes.

    Some of them are in Classics, but not many.

  9. Dougal 2012.07.25

    No need for Keystone Pipeline and its crappy sludge that costs much more to refine. The USA has its needs covered by Bakken. A larger oil shale find is being developed in Siberia. A pipeline from Siberia to China would quickly make tar sands shipped from Canada obsolete.

    So, if it's being sent in a rickety, risky pipeline from Alberta to the ports of Texas, who needs tar sands sent on ships?


    It's time to stop spending our taxes on oil corporations and it's time to tell the truth and stop the silly game in Congress to build a pipeline that is not needed from a source that costs too much to refine.

  10. Les 2012.07.25

    40,000 watts is 40 KW's at roughly ten cents per KW or four dollars for 40 KW generated. If they generate 40KW an hour or $4.00 per hour, it would take 8750 hours(the number of hours in a year) to make the $35,000 stated. That means the system operates at more than 100% efficiency or in other words, the sisters are not just making wine from water but wind and light from the lack thereof.
    Sorry girls, I'll ask forgiveness at reconciliation this weekend.

  11. Charlie Hoffman 2012.07.25

    Not to bud in here Les but did you add in the juice coming from 12 hours a day of the 125 Solar Panels. Scientists here have come up with about 10 acres of solar panels to run the entire city of Eureka. (OK he is an older fellow who moved back to town and I find him fascinating!)

    Nuns would never lie and windmills will never be cost efficient but solar panels just might be..............

  12. larry kurtz 2012.07.25

    then, why did ronny raygun take them from the used-to-be-white house, charlie?

  13. Dougal 2012.07.25

    His Astrologer (Nancy) told him to remove them.

  14. grudznick 2012.07.25

    My good friend Sibby once told me that fossils (not me, the rock ones) were planted by the government and that "archaeology was a bogus science devoid of fact and foisted on the unknowing by the globalists."

    I believe the fossil part and am still struggling with the vast globalist Kiwanis parade team conspiracy.

  15. Les 2012.07.25

    Was a time the mills dotted the prairies doing their job in a great way. We've evolved, procreated and consume beyond mother's will. We are now killing the goose for that golden egg Charlie.
    We've got every drop of water that ever existed and when hydrogen burns, we get every drop back. Splain this to me, we split atoms, recreate the genetics in plants and animals and we can't figure out how to burn hydrogen.

  16. Les 2012.07.25

    Grud, I think those fossils were planted and cared for by cattle guards on the federal lands.

  17. Jason Karels 2012.07.26

    Burning Hydrogen is easy, that's not the problem(s).
    One problem is safety, as Hydrogen has a nasty tendency to go BOOM!!!! Hydrogen is the most reactive element and attaches itself to almost anything. That makes it more difficult (meaning expensive) to separate out. Water is the most plentiful source of hydrogen, but is expensive to separate out through electrolysis. That leaves hydrocarbons, which is possible and I think the main method used now, but I don't think we gain much environmental/economical benefit. Once an economical method of hydrogen production is developed, than you have something.

    Perhaps a bigger hurdle is infrastructure. It would require a large investment in infrastructure to make hydrogen work. I just don't see how that is going to fly in this political world when everything is seen as a cost and not an investment.

    I am not disagreeing with you on the use of Hydrogen as a fuel. However, if our elected officials aren't willing to spend money on it, like it has on a number of infrastructure projects throughout our history, then we must rely on the free market. Outside of some local markets in high population centers, it won't take off. It's too expensive (i.e. interstate system, REAs, rural telephone,etc). In fact, I can't think of a large infrastructure program that was not funded by government (tax) dollars in some form...

  18. Les 2012.07.26

    Of course H can be nasty as the folks on the Hindenburg found out. I've seen it up close and personal many times in my life repairing electrical around the hydrogen generators in the automotive industry.

    We don't burn liquid nat gas as many countries do and should learn to burn that as well.

    My limited knowledge believes that fission/fusion could produce unlimited amounts of hydrogen. Could we control it?

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.27

    Les, we control fission right now; the long-term waste is problematic. If we get fusion, we won't need to produce hydrogen; we'll just produce darn near infinite electricity at the fusion plant.

  20. Les 2012.07.27

    Good morning Cory. Of course if you could just get the anti gravity then magnetic propulsion is a great option. As Jason states above, it would take the gov entity to get anything done over the carbon magnates.

  21. larry kurtz 2012.08.21

    Update, Cory: Montana counties are considering zoning issues due to "temporary workforce housing" not "man camps." @GFTrib_KPuckett

    Harding County next?

Comments are closed.