Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fracking good for the climate? What a load of hot air 

Natural gas cheerleaders must wake up to the inconvenient environmental truth

People gather on the steps of New York City Hall protesting the states plan for shale oil drilling in the city's watershed in New York January 4, 2010. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it had "serious reservations" about allowing shale gas drilling in New York City's watershed, warning of a threat to the drinking water for 9 million people.The drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," involves blasting through rock with a mixture of water, sand and a proprietary list of chemicals used to split the shale formation and free trapped gas. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS ENERGY)   Original Filename: 2010-01-04T181205Z_01_SHN605_RTRMDNP_3_USA.JPG


Anti-fracking protesters in front of City Hall.

In recent weeks, Gov. Cuomo has written eloquently in these pages about the need, in the wake of superstorm Sandy, to respond to the danger of climate change. And one of the ways to answer the challenge of a warming planet, some say, is to embrace hydrofracking — the process of drilling deep underground for natural gas.
Natural gas burns cleaner than other forms of fuel, the logic goes, releasing less atmosphere-warming CO2. So it’s portrayed as a win-win: cheaper, plentiful energy that happens to hurt the planet less than other fossil fuels.
The fracking cheerleaders are misinformed. Drilling for natural gas has some disastrous environmental consequences. It will speed climate change, not help stave it off.
The methane that is inevitably emitted from natural gas wells and pipelines is more than 100 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas during the first two decades after emission.
Not only are the supposed global warming benefits of hydrofracking nonexistent, but those whose chief environmental concern is climate change must acknowledge that the technology is about as harmful as they come.
Elected leaders who recognize the threat of climate change need to do more than simply build the infrastructure to protect against rising tides. They need to also ensure that we reverse it, rather than exacerbating the problem.

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