In the April 26 edition of the Chronicle, an editorial entitled “Business opportunity” was presented suggesting that American natural gas could be shipped to Israel. This proposition is probably not possible in the short term (next couple years) and not needed after that.
The development of shale gas in the Appalachian Basin and in many other parts of the United States has reversed the concern that we may need to import natural gas to meet our energy and material resource needs (30 to 40 percent of natural gas is used to make things; it is not just an energy source).
Fearing a domestic natural gas shortage, several liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities that import foreign natural gas were built, and some are operating on the East Coast. The surplus of gas has led to many of these terminals and proposed new ones to apply for licenses to become LNG export facilities.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy support and in some cases have licensed these facilities for export. But some environmental groups have decided to tie up the LNG export terminals in lawsuits. They appear to be using this as a way to curtail or stop shale gas development in the United States.
Another concern is that exporting our gas would raise prices and curb or limit the benefits of low gas prices here (if we accepted the same approach from oil exporting countries we depend on, we would be ruined economically). Therefore, the short-term prospects for the United States shipping LNG to Israel are slim to none.
More importantly, and I am surprised the editors of the Chronicle may not know this, Israel over the past few years has discovered very large offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. The discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan fields by Noble Resources in Houston and its Israeli partners may position Israel in the near future as a gas exporter. The Leviathan Basin off Israel, Cyprus, Greece and some not so friendly to Israel neighbors, is a hot prospect for large gas resources. Barring Israel putting in place tax policies on gas that cripple investment (it takes billions of dollars to put an offshore gas field into production) and possible complaining from Lebanon, Israel will not need our gas.
The business opportunity however still exists, the other way around. Israelis are exporting to the U.S. solar thermal power generation. Israel is the world leader in the technology of using solar power to make steam. The steam can be used to generate electricity. Along with electrical generation in California and the Southwest United States, the technology is now being developed to help generate solar steam to enable heavy oil recovery in central California by the steam flooding.
(Rick Wice is a professional geologist in the energy and environmental fields.)
Hatchet job on Israel
Last Sunday, “60 Minutes” ran a shockingly biased episode, “Christians of the Holy Land” by Bob Simon. Even the always diplomatic Israeli ambassador, Michael Oren, called it a “hatchet job” on Israel.
Ambassador Oren was right. Simon only paid lip service to the violent persecution and flight of ancient Christian communities throughout the region, which is the real historical tragedy unfolding in the Middle East. Instead, he chose to bash Israel, the only Middle Eastern country that protects Christians.
The program scapegoated and demonized Israel, distorting reality to blame Israel’s security measures — the fence and checkpoints — for the suffering of Palestinian Christians.
Simon interviewed biased and sometimes anti-Semitic sources, treating them as legitimate. He asked leading questions. He dismissed the real reasons for the plight and flight of Palestinian Christians: persecution by Palestinian Islamists and the Palestinian Authority.
His shoddy, irresponsible research produced propaganda, not journalism. This dangerous misinformation stokes anti-Israel prejudice and bigotry, shifting public attention away from the forces that are imperiling the survival of Christian communities in the Palestinian Authority and throughout the region.
Bob Simon either unwittingly or intentionally promoted hostility toward Israel and anti-Semitic views. In a pattern that he has repeated in the past, Simon interviewed biased sources and treated them as legitimate. Simon asked leading instead of open-ended questions. More disturbing, Simon ignored and effectively belittled the real threats to beleaguered Christians, which come from rising Islamist persecution throughout the region and in Gaza and West Bank. Instead, he focused on the one country in the Middle East that firmly protects the rights of Christians. If allowed to stand uncorrected, this program that misinformed the public has irreparably damaged the reputation of “60 Minutes”; and it will no longer be considered a reliable news source.
(Editor’s note: The author also sent an annotated version of this letter to the executive producer of “60 Minutes.”)