Monday, November 21, 2011

Frack the whole mess of it...

Or don't. 

Today in a monumental show of support for those of us who are wholly against the idea of fracking (hydraulic fracturing for natural gas) the Delaware River Basin Commission decided to postpone a meeting where they were expected to vote on whether to lift a ban that they had previously placed on fracking. They've decided to give their commission members additional time to review the ban. Additional time doesn't mean the ban won't ever be lifted but it does give hope that a real review process will happen at the end of which hopefully some sturdy politicians will make the tough decision to save the earth and not the gas companies. 

The Delaware River Basin Commission is the group responsible for managing water resources in the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin -- an area marked by the beautiful Delaware river, first mapped by Henry Hudson in 1609, that provides 15 million people with their drinking water. The commission is staffed by the five governors of the states that claim parts of the basin (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' North Atlantic Division. The five were meant to meet today at the Trenton War Memorial to decide the fate of that beautiful water resource and the millions of people that rely on it. 

Fracking is the process by which natural gas is extracted from pockets of air locked within rocks deep below the earth's surface. Huge drills are sent deep underground and massive amounts of chemical laced water is blasted into the earth in order to break open the rocks and release the gas. 

Proponents of the technology say that natural gas is a valuable resource for our future green economy and the truth is that it does burn cleaner than coal or gas -- but it will never be completely emission free. The dirty truths, that everyone in favor of fracking tries to hide, are many. For one the life cycle of natural gas through fracking has a larger carbon footprint than that of coal. The chemicals shot into the earth poison groundwater, cause illnesses in local residents and livestock and among other things it has been proven that fracking causes earthquakes. I'll say that again, it causes earthquakes

Another stunning dirty truth is that one of the gentlemen responsible for helping to create the process of hydraulic fracturing is now on a desperate quest to try to stop it. His story is part of the incredible This American Life episode that goes deep into the issue. 

If you don't know enough about fracking, you should inform yourself. Grab some popcorn and watch the Oscar-nominated Gasland. Spend some time in front of the computer reading about how the EPA has found fracking chemicals in the Wyoming water supply and areas that have allowed fracking have seen property values plummet.

The energy debate needs to be focused in on the long term solutions, not short term strategies. Natural gas will run out and when it does we'll be left with a poisoned water supply, a bunch of dead animals, a disease-ridden population and a global warming crisis. When the gas company comes knocking on the door tell them you'll let them erect a windmill on your farm but that you'd like to keep your family healthy. Thank you. No carcinogens please. 

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