Poplin: Why energy
innovation’s an oxymoron

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The editor, Kyle Poplin, is not convinced that the same old forms of energy, delivered in the same old ways, is all America is capable of. Will we always be pondering possibilities in this country, or are energy breakthroughs imminent?

Did you know Washtenaw County has four huge fuel pipelines running through it, with three more big ones on the way?

Tim Omarzu writes in this month’s centerpiece about a pipeline full of fracked natural gas that’s planned for our collective back yard. While we can be thankful the fracking itself was done at points south, Tim does a nice job explaining why we should all be more than a little concerned about the potentially explosive impact of the pipeline itself.

In addition to that project, to be built by a Dallas-based company called Rover, two others are planned: the Nexus pipeline to tie into DTE Energy’s transmission system and bring shale gas through York, Augusta and Ypsilanti townships; and a Wolverine Oil Co. oil pipeline through Freedom, Lodi, Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships next to its existing pipeline.

There’s plenty of indignation to go around concerning the Rover pipeline’s oversight, timing, location, size, setbacks, etc. But my pet peeve – as a “legacy” journalist who saw his industry implode, and rightfully so, as more means of communication were developed – concerns the lack of innovation in America’s energy use, across the board.

Every so often, America will begin a conversation about new forms of energy, but the discussion inevitably gets railroaded, usually toward jobs and economic benefit, by legions of lobbyists and flacks that only “legacy” energy providers and those on their coattails can afford.

Seems to me, until that changes we’ll continue to have basically unsolvable conflicts over old-school problems like pipelines. What do you think?

Kyle Poplin

Kyle Poplin is co-founder and editor of The Ann magazine.