Fracking idiots

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From the New York Times comes this dose of reality:
About My Support for Natural Gas
Some readers of The New York Times are unimpressed with the idea of substituting natural gas for imported oil, even though such a move would help wean the country from its dependence on OPEC. Or so it appears after I made that argument in my column on Tuesday, noting that natural gas is a fossil fuel we have in abundance and is cleaner than oil to boot.

After that column was published, I was buried under an avalanche of angry e-mails and comments, most of them complaining that I had ignored the environmental dangers of drilling for gas, particularly the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that involves shooting water and chemicals into shale formations deep underground.
And the reality:
To begin with, fracking is hardly new. In Texas and Oklahoma, it has been used for decades, with nobody complaining much about environmental degradation. It must be a coincidence that these worries surfaced when a natural gas field called the Marcellus Shale was discovered in the Northeast, primarily under Pennsylvania and New York. Surely, East Coast residents wouldn�t object to having the country use more natural gas just because it�s going to be drilled in their own backyard instead of, say, downtown Fort Worth. Would they?

As for the actual environmental questions, there are three main ones. First, fracking supposedly allows gas and dangerous chemicals to seep into the water supply. This is pretty implausible. Water tables are 1,000 feet or less from the surface; fracking usually takes place well under 7,000 feet. In Dimock, Pa., where methane appears to have leaked into the water supply, state environmental officials say that the problem was not fracking but rather sloppy gas producers who didn�t take proper care in cementing their wells.

The second problem is the disposal of the chemical waste. In the Southwest, producers bury the waste in sealed containers deep underground. The geology of the Marcellus Shale, however, makes that much more difficult. Some of that waste is being sent to existing underground waste dumps, leading to the possibility of spills. Other waste is being buried in shallower ground, which creates a fear of contamination. Ultimately, producers in the Marcellus Shale will have to do a better job getting rid of the waste.

Finally, there is the concern raised by Robert Howarth, the Cornell scientist, who says that natural gas is dirtier than coal. His main contention is that so much methane is escaping from gas wells that it is creating an enormous footprint of greenhouse gases. His study, however, is not exactly iron-clad. Industry officials have mocked it, but even less-biased experts have poked holes in it. The Environmental Defense Fund, for instance, has estimates of methane gas emissions that are 75 percent lower than Howarth�s.
Classic watermelon environmentalism. Green on the outside, red on the inside. They want to bring down America and they are using the environment as the tool to do so.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 17, 2011 1:43 PM.

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