Methane Wars: A Fable – Chapter Five

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The Lobbyist

I became obsessed with the methane collection activities. Whether fate placed me there or whether my subconscious mind, affected by having a methane collection unit shoved up my ass, led me there, I don’t know. I kept my job at the research firm. I had insight into ongoing activity, at least from that perspective. I didn’t have any further insight into the workings of Humachinix, but I was getting the sense that they were just pawns whose job it was to be the face of scientific research just as UnGastro was a manufacturer fabricating someone else’s scheme. Layers.

Data continued to be gathered from Humachinix, the anti-coal lobbies, and others. Though no directive or official memo admitted it, we were indeed collecting data to make a case for human methane collection. We were pawns too. We would supply the ammo but we would not fire the gun. And as of yet, it was unclear who owned the gun. Though it became clear who would fire the gun: a congressional lobbyist from the high-powered law firm of Jenkins and Scott by the name of Daryl Forrester. Daryl was going to fire the methane-powered gun on behalf of Senator Kramer.

Our deadline for providing the best data we had was set. Not so coincidently, that deadline was set the day after congressional hearings had been set to debate the renewal of the CEA.

I managed to get into the congressional hearing, which was less densely attended than I would have guessed. Perhaps my obsession with the matter led me to believe it would or should have garnered more attention.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the first presenter in the hearing was Daryl Forrester. I obtained minutes from the hearing later, and this is what Daryl had to say:

“Honored Senators. The numbers I am about to show you are not for the faint of heart. But to walk away now would to be to walk away from humanity, and I know you will not do that.

“Most of you were here when the Coal Elimination Act was passed. One of the boldest actions taken in the last 100 years. I personally thank you for that.

“But Senators, it turns out we need to be even bolder. The coal crises identified five years ago hasn’t gone away. Despite the bold measures put in place for aggressive delving into alternate energy sources, we’re running out of time. The measures in place currently won’t be sufficient to deal with the imminent shutdown of the coal energy industry. In five years, coal power as we know it will cease to exist. The report being passed out right now outlines the time lines and impacts of this imminent shutdown. The effects on this country would be beyond catastrophic. When the coal industry ceases to exist, so do we cease to exist as a viable nation.

“We have to replace 600 coal plants. And we can do that. No, we can’t replace them all at once and certainly not in five years. But if we start to incrementally replace capacity right now we can extend the imminent shutdown of the coal industry several years. But several years is only the briefest of reprieves. It only gives us the chance to take a deep breath and move boldly and aggressively.

“Now that I have gotten your attention with this catastrophically grim news, I turn to the equally stunning solution to this crisis. An almost miraculous solution but one that requires unflinching commitment, unwavering commitment, a level of dedication to this country you may never have thought possible.

“A proposal for action is now being handed out. This proposal reiterates a need for continued commitment to solar and wind and other alternative powers and continued commitment for significant improvements in energy efficiency. All very important at a time when everything is so important.

“I save the most important for last. I harken back to the Coal Elimination Act and the third key provision in that act. The Bovine Methane Collection Measure. The measure that provided for the mandatory collection of all gases from bovine used in the agricultural sector.

“On page 153 of the report you will notice figures that indicate just how huge a success this measure has been. Just five years into this program and the bovine sector of the ag industry is entirely energy self-sufficient and actually exports energy to other agricultural areas. That’s roughly 0.5 percent of the GDP. In fact the massive success here has been instrumental in delaying the imminent shutdown of the coal industry for several years.

“But it has not been enough. Other alternate energy efforts continue, but with high capital expenditure and lengthy project time lines they are unlikely to be ready in time.

“With the success of the Bovine Methane Collection Measure we have the blueprint in the palm of our hands. WE are the solution. The potential of the human race to provide its own energy is enormous.

“We at the Coal Preservation Institute have extensively funded research into the feasibility of The Human Methane Collection Project as well the development of first generation devices to collect methane and other gases using the latest technology.

 

So the testimony went on with many hours of questions and answers. Holes were poked. Holes were filled. Every time a senator tried to ratchet down the doomsday rhetoric, Daryl ratcheted it back up.

This was all about human methane collection. Well, really it was about money. Everything is about money. I don’t know how much money flowed to which campaign funds. I imaging a great deal since a few months later a bill was introduced to extend the Coal Elimination Act with a few tweaks. The key tweak being that the Bovine Methane Collection Measure was amended to the Bovine and Human Methane Collection Measure. They would begin collecting methane from humans immediately.

The crux of the human methane collection revision was buried in an addendum that outlined the phased roll out of the collection system: the crux was that participation was mandatory. Mandatory.

The addendum went on to list the stringent protocol for exceptions with a panel set up to hammer out the penalties for non-compliance, enforcement, etc. The addendum also established a new federal agency with funding to implement the methane collection.

The bill made it quietly through committee. When the Senate debated the bill it was presented as a straightforward renewing of the Coal Elimination Act. God knows how many senators read it. A small backlash came from some civil liberties groups who grasped the import of the amendment but little was made of it. It wasn’t until the clone bill was introduced into the House that someone in the media finally sniffed out the amendment and made a stink.

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About joegergen

To evoke a smile. That's all. Author of "Methane Wars: A Fable" and "Lear's Fool" as well as various poems and some these painting things as well.
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