Forget about fracked gas, pursue renewable energy

I recently spent 30 days writing one letter per day to New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, commenting on 30 different aspects of the DEC’s proposed rules to regulate fracking. On Dec. 12, I pointed out that the minimal distance between houses and well pads (500 feet) is too small, since studies have shown that noxious chemicals can be detected in the air up to a half mile from well pads. On Dec. 20, I complained that the regulations do not adequately protect water supplies, since the only requirement is that well pads should be more than 500 feet from water wells and springs. This regulation doesn’t protect streams, creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes that are also used as water supplies, and it doesn’t protect against underground horizontal extensions of fracking wells, from which contaminants could leak upward into water supplies.

But my major complaint was that the natural gas obtained by fracking is a greenhouse gas. When burned, it turns into carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. And, before it’s burned, natural gas itself is an even more powerful greenhouse gas – about 25-fold worse than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. During fracking operations, as much as 9 percent of the harvested gas leaks into the atmosphere. Consequently, natural gas obtained by fracking contributes more to global warming (per unit of energy produced) than does coal.

In every one of my 30 messages I pointed out that we don’t need fracked gas. Renewable energy sources (wind, water and sun) have the potential to supply 100 percent of our energy needs without contaminating our water and air.

I hope that all readers will contact the governor by email mail or telephone to let him know what you think about fracking.

Joel A. Huberman