Speaking Out About Fracking is Very Timely

by S. Tom Bond on December 8, 2014

Federico Pena, formerly Secretary of Energy, speaks up in Colorado

Former Secretary of Energy Speaks Out Against Fracking

From an Article by Gary Wockner, EcoWatch.com, December 8, 2014

Dear Former Secretary of Energy Federico Peña,

Thank you for speaking out against fracking, fossil fuels and climate change! I read your lengthy interview on the topic posted on the Boulder, Colorado, Daily Camera news site here. As a former U.S. Secretary of Energy, you are in a unique position to speak out and make a difference on this extremely important issue.

Former Secretary of Energy Federico Peña was interviewed by Boulder, Colorado’s Daily Camera and spoke out against fracking, fossil fuels and climate change. Photo credit: Daily Camera

However, I am compelled to point out what I believe are problems with your approach to the topic. You make two important statements in the interview that are at the center of my critique. First, you state:

“There are some who would say we shouldn’t allow fracking altogether, we shouldn’t allow any more drilling altogether, because it pollutes the air, it’s a fossil fuel, we ought to get out of it. Well, that would be terrific if we could do it in about 40 or 50 years, if we plan for it, if it’s done in a strategic and methodical fashion.”

And then about climate change, you state:

“I think as a nation and as a planet, we’re going to figure this out. And it may take a crisis, it may take some real soil erosion, it may take some coasts being wiped out around the world. It might take some parts of our country. We’ve got islands off the Florida coast that are worried about this kind of thing. But at some point I think most people will finally come to their senses and begin to take action. Now, the longer we wait, the more dramatic the action’s going to be. No question about that.”

As a climate change activist and a person who wants to protect human and non-human life on our planet, I am unwilling to accept that we have to wait to act aggressively on climate change until “coasts are being wiped out around the world.” Further, my understanding of the best available science is that we have to transition off of fossil fuels much faster than “40 or 50 years.”

I appreciate that you support Obama’s efforts so far, and the efforts of the United Nations so far, but the scientific consensus is that neither of those efforts will happen fast enough to keep coasts from being wiped out. Further, in the interview you state that the transition needs to happen more slowly:

“But if we do it in a very methodical way, so that you don’t disrupt the economy, you don’t disrupt the investments that people have made, that companies have made, there is a way for us to begin to invest in cleaner, alternative fuels over a period of years and then gradually phase out our over-dependence on fossil fuels.”

You certainly realize that “wiping out coasts” will disrupt the economy and disrupt investments? Take a look at this infographic about the social and economic costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. As one example, Katrina cost the economy $123 billion and Sandy cost $60 billion. Other hurricanes and typhoons around the planet have been even more costly in terms of human lives. Also, take a look at this document put out by the White House that indicates that a 20-year delay of action on climate change could cost the world economy between $1 trillion and $4.7 trillion.

I strongly encourage you to continue speaking out against fracking, fossil fuels and climate change. We need leaders like you who were in very powerful positions in previous administrations to be the “outside game” to push the American people and the U.S. government in the right direction. We also need leaders like you to drill down on the facts and point out actual costs to the economy and human life of inaction.

Respectfully, Gary Wockner, PhD, environmental activist.

See also:

Scientists Warn Leaders at Lima Climate Talks: Ocean Warming Drives Record Temperatures


Fracking Quotes from Two Worlds

Quotations collected by S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

There’s no reason to think there will be any adverse environmental impact,” said Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources, about a proposal that “involves the beneficial use of vertical drill cutting from natural gas wells as an aggregate in a stabilized soil pavement for construction of Marcellus and Utica Shale well pads and access roads.

“As the citizens illustrate, development of the natural gas industry in the Commonwealth unquestionably has and will have a lasting, and undeniably detrimental, impact on the quality of these core aspects [life, health, and liberty: surface and ground water, ambient air, etc.] of Pennsylvania’s environment, which are part of the public trust.” Opinion 117

“By any responsible account, the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.” Opinion 118

Decisions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Middle District, December 19, 2013, concerning Act 13 — “natural resources are practically limitless” – Alec Epstein, to the Ohio Oil and Gas Association

“Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the prsent technology, nor with the inadequate regulations being proposed” – Louis Assstadt, former executive vice president of Mobile Oil

“Water quality is going to improve as a result of [hydrofracking]” – Tom Shepstone of Energy in Depth

“I think the positive response to the exploitation of natural gas lies in a combination of wishful thinking and intimidation “– Natural gas is not the bridge to clean energy; it’s the road to more climate change”- Naomi Oreskes. author, published by the Council of Canadian Academies

“With the return of affordable natural gas and natural gas liquids … is probably the single greatest opportunity we have to restore the middle class in America” — Peter Molinaro said at the Consumer Energy Alliance’s Pennsylvania Energy and Manufacturing Summit.

“As usual in such articles, global warming is not mentioned, and it is claimed export of LNG won’t raise prices in the U. S. The article also says photovoltaic shouldn’t get government support ‘because it is a mature technology” — This ignores the $XXXX subsidy of the hydrocarbon industries.” John Deutsch, Proessor of Chemstry at MIT and former director of energy research and Undersecretary at the U. S. Department of Energy

“There is a huge source of natural gas underneath the state parks, that is the state’s. I don’t believe in just leaving it there” — Tom Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania

“What they sell to the American public is: ‘We don’t want dependency on foreign oil’” said former Marine Sergeant Barton. “It’s like: ‘We don’t need to be dependent on foreign oil, look what happened in Iraq. So let’s drill here.’ But they’re not [saying] that it’s the same companies, or it’s the same pockets, or the same politicians, or lobbyists. That’s the conversation no one’s having.” Barton is a worker in the Bakken fracked oil field in North Dakota.

Climate scientists say America’s oil and gas boom is having unintended consequences, not just for the climate or the local environment in energy producing regions, but for America’s global role in tackling climate change. “As we produce more, we burn more, and we send more CO2 per person into the atmosphere than almost any other country” — said Susan Brantley, geosciences professor and director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University. “We are blanketing our world with greenhouse gas, warming the planet.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

A P Mama December 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm

This collection is brilliant and a little disturbing. It is both heartening and disheartening to see the variation in understanding, the levels of hypocrisy, the true hopelessness of the truth here. The sad part is that we are not having these conversations, and that is what will kill us.

When Brantley says we are putting a boatload of CO2 into the atmosphere, she isn’t wrong. According to the a publication by Cambridge University Press, “Global methane levels, have risen to 1800 parts per billion (ppb) by 2011, an increase by a factor of 2.5 since pre-industrial times, from 722 ppb, the highest value in at least 800,000 years.”

Methane is much worse for the warming of the planet, and a greater threat than CO2 by far, but no one is talking about that, either. By the time today’s methane’s effect is complete (20 years), we will be out of water.

Then we will wish we had had these conversations much earlier, to say the least!


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