Monday, October 13, 2008

Federal Red Tape -or- My Version of How We Got Here

Professionally, I am a project manager for a large natural gas interstate transportation company. I am managing two projects: Colorado Hub Connection and Sundance Trail Expansion.

Colorado Hub is a new 27.5-mile 24-inch diameter pipeline bringing gas supplies out of the Piceance Basin in Colorado to my company's existing mainline in Colorado, so that the gas can flow to various markets. Sundance Trail is an expansion of my company's existing pipeline system - it entails adding 16 miles of new 30-inch pipeline parallel to our existing pipeline south of Opal, Wyoming, and adding new compression to our compressor station at Vernal, Utah. Colorado Hub is scheduled to be built in 2009, and Sundance Trail is scheduled to be built in 2010.

My company is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and larger projects like these require a certificate from FERC. The process for receiving a certificate is long and tedious, because it basically requires coordination with lots of government agencies as well as private landowners and the public in general. In theory, the efforts of all parties involved are coordinated and the project proceeds forward smoothly. In practice, it rarely works that way.

For example, during an important stage of the process recently in Colorado, the BLM came in at the eleventh hour and shifted 180 degrees from their support of our project, at least in one section of the proposed route. Now I have team members jumping through all kinds of hoops to design a new alternative. We are spending literally millions of dollars to satisfy the whims of a regulator, and in the end, I don't believe the public is any better served than had we been able to stick with our original route.

This is one shining example of how we got where we are today. Our lives are overly regulated. Too much power is given to government agencies. And the end result is that end consumers and taxpayers pay way too much for the end product that they receive.

Let me make one thing clear - I am a conservationist. When we were routing this pipeline and designing it, we took careful consideration of plant and animal species, habitat protection, and general resource protection. In fact, as I look at other projects built in the same area in recent years, I know that our project will be more environmentally friendly than any of them. In spite of that, however, we are forced to jump through unnecessary hoops. I see this system as fundamentally flawed - it contributes to greater inefficiency and hurts everyone.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Glenn Beck's Take on the Present Crisis

From a couple of Glenn Beck's recent discussions, I have copied the following excerpts. I feel amazingly calm when I consider the possible scenarios in front of us. I think Glenn is, most of all, asking all of us to open our minds to the possibility that really crazy things could happen in the coming days, weeks, months, years. Americans are generally optimistic people, and we want to think that the economy will correct itself, that things will work out, but I agree with Glenn - we need to consider what it might look like if things really turn crazy, and take practical steps to be prepared. More than anything, we should study what freedom means, so that if things come apart, we can help put them back together in a fashion that leaves us free to live the lives that God intended us to live. Now for the excerpts:

"the people who caused this fire are the same ones who are now telling us that they know best how to put it out and a reason not to believe their current promises."

"We have faced tough times before. We fought the Nazis in World War II, defeated communism in the Cold War and Americans fought each other to keep our country together in our own Civil War. These tough times require us to educate ourselves and help others understand what has brought us to this point and the grave consequences of what will happen if we let this continue-that is our fight."

"We are on the edge of a giant abyss that could swallow not only our economy but the freedoms and security we have enjoyed for over 200 years. Believe it or not, I don’t think that this letter captures the urgency that I feel, but I didn’t want to include wild speculation because I can’t see into the future but I wanted to give you a sense of the Perfect Storm that I have talked about and how the pressures that our economy and country face at this time are once again placing our "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" at stake."

"Please ponder and pray about what I’ve said and then pass these email letters along to as many people as possible so they can prepare themselves and their families. Then, the more people there will be to help us overcome fear and desperation."

"There is good news. We can prepare ourselves and our family for what’s coming and work to prevent the worst from happening. We have to focus on value and values. Those things that our parent and their parents lived but somehow too many of us have forgotten. But that’s for my next letter to you."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apple Art

No. 2's apple man

Redeeming Authentic Manhood

I have just read a life-changing book that has contributed significantly to my perspective on true manhood: Healing the Masculine Soul by Gordon Dalbey.

Two years ago I read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and noticed that Eldredge referenced this book as his inspiration, so I knew that I would need to read it eventually. I was not disappointed.

I have also read other works along the same vein - Boyhood and Beyond, Raising a Modern-Day Knight, Bringing Up Boys, etc. The general tenor is the same - men suffer from a wound that dates back to boyhood and need to overcome significant external and internal pressures to redeem true manhood.

I loved this book and highly recommend it to anybody.

I will throw out the disclaimer that it is written from a very mainstream Christian perspective. I am a Latter-day Saint Christian, and I know many fellow LDS folks who won't see past Dalbey's doctrinal perspectives - the same is true for Eldredge. But if that is your position, then you have missed the point of their works, and you will miss the tremendous benefit of their discussion.