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Week of 27 May 2024: One more thing...

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Over fifty years ago, when I first entered the pulp and paper industry, the first energy crisis was underway. As a young person early in my career, I and others in my peer group thought this was new, exciting and solvable.

Fifty years later, it is old, boring and never ending.

In the early years, the issue was adequate supply. In these latter years, the concern has been emissions and other environmental issues.

I am here to tell you energy issues will always be front burner (pardon the pun) because energy is so vital to human living. From the first fire deliberately built in front of a cave to keep the occupants warm and provide some light, energy has been important.

So, here as we wrap up our "Energy Trends" month, let's not forget that energy is always in the news, always in crisis, and the ultimate solution to our energy problems is always just around the corner.

Many times, in this column in the past, I've cautioned about removing mothballed energy assets (while telling you anything else that you mothball, remove immediately). I have seen so many fads come and go in the energy sector of our industry, I have lost count.

Some of these fads are driven by politics. A congress with only a few engineers, and those not being heard, can come up with crazy, non-scientific answers to the energy problem of the day. This is often why energy policy is ever changing.

Like I said, early on this seemed to be an exciting portion of one's career--solving energy issues. Instead, it has gotten tiresome. Then for a senior like me, the young come into their careers and talk about the great ideas they have in energy, and it is very tempting to tell them we tried that before. It is a struggle for I don't want to be one of those old people that says we already did that, but after fifty years, it is often a true statement.

So, let's end this month's energy trends' columns with three truths.

  1. At this point, most things have been tried.
  2. Energy is only exciting if you have had little exposure to it.
  3. Energy policy is political and subject to daily change.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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