Friday, August 21, 2009

natural gas not so sustainable

Examiner | It does not appear that Mr. Podesta's plan addresses the number one concern regarding the expansion of natural gas drilling domestically, and that is the over 300 compound chemical cocktail that is injected into the ground to force the gas to the surface. (for a list of 54 known chemicals in the fracking fluids and their effects, check HERE). His suggestion of public disclosure by gas producers does not go far enough. So what if gas developers disclose the chemical cocktail that they use; they still inject it into the ground where it seeps into our domestic freshwater supply. Even if the fracking goes on far below the groundwater table level, the tailing ponds on the surface have the potential to leak topdown into the water supply. Look at the map below where they want to drill (click for enlargement):

Do we really have the luxury of poisoning this much of our freshwater suply in the name of natural gas development? The question needs to be asked again: What do we value more, energy to run our machines or water to sustain human life?

Fracking processes are improving. There are best practices that use non-toxic cocktails, but these methods are employed in areas few and far between. Perhaps in the future, they will become standard.

What happens when the domestic natural gas wells run dry, though? Won't we simply be in the same position we find ourselves currently today? At least both Podesta and Chu refer to natural gas as a transition fuel (Pickens for that matter too), but our money, time, and effort could be better spent expanding clean energy in the form of wind, solar, biofuels, and geothermal as well as energy efficiency measures.

Drilling for more natural gas simply ruins more landscapes and runs the risk of poisoning our entire domestic freshwater supply. Is this the lowest level of risk our society can muster?