Friday, July 01, 2011

Natural gas drilling moves forward in NYS despite dangers of Climate Change


Despite a myriad of caveats, warnings, exclusions, and concerns New York State is getting ready to hydrofrack for natural gas. It’s how things are done today—and yesterday. Land with natural gas is natural resource, a negative externality as the economists tell us, something to be exploited because people want it and so you find a way to do it.

New Recommendations Issued in Hydraulic Fracturing Review - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation "New Recommendations Issued in Hydraulic Fracturing Review In Reversal of 2009 Report, High-Volume Fracturing Would be Prohibited in NYC and Syracuse Watersheds Drilling Banned Within All Primary Aquifers and on State-Owned Land Including State Forest and Wildlife Management Areas Drilling Permitted on Other Private Land with Rigorous and Effective Protections Advisory Panel on Implementation to Be Appointed The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tomorrow will release its revised recommendations on mitigating the environmental impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (high-volume fracturing). The recommendations contain these major revisions: High-volume fracturing would be prohibited in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, including a buffer zone; Drilling would be prohibited within primary aquifers and within 500 feet of their boundaries; Surface drilling would be prohibited on state-owned land including parks, forest areas and wildlife management areas; High-volume fracturing will be permitted on privately held lands under rigorous and effective controls; and DEC will issue regulations to codify these recommendations into state law. These recommendations, if adopted in final form, would protect the state's environmentally sensitive areas while realizing the economic development and energy benefits of the state's natural gas resources. Approximately 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale would be accessible to natural gas extraction under these recommendations. " (June 30, 2011) New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) acknowledges that they will take all kinds of precautions to protect our water, our air, private and public property and even make sure that there’s “additional well casing to prevent gas migration.”

Gas migration is not like caribou migration where you can get in a plane and look down on thousands upon thousands of ungulates on a meandering mass migration across the Alaskan tundra. No, gas migration is the invisible gas leaks that might ‘migrate’ though the endless invisible, natural fissures that are part and parcel of shale deposits. These little cracks run along the share and they can possibility lead to wells, lakes, and streams. (See Marcellus Formation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) So, good luck with that.

But the real issue about drilling for natural gas in New York, is that instead of hyper-encouraging renewable energy—wind, and solar—we still, like mental contortionists, bend around every concern for environmental safety so we can burn more fossil fuels for energy and heat even though we know that we are continuing to contribute greatly to carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere that is warming the place up.

If you are getting tired of reading, here are a few videos that neatly explain Climate Change and why, despite all the Climate Change deniers who are still typing furious away on their passion for irrational outrage, our public officials, in part of a major report called “America’s Climate Choices,” are going to go ahead and help us adapt to Climate Change anyway:

Five-video Series on America's Climate Choices Now Available “In conjunction with the releases of the four America's Climate Choices panel reports and the final summary report, the Division on Earth and Life Studies and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate created five videos, one on the initial study process and one on each panel report. All five feature members of the committees that authored the reports discussing their findings and the research process that led to them. These videos are all available on the National Academies' YouTube channel”

In today’s world, where you gotta do what you gotta do, some gotta continue to drill for fossil fuels and some gotta try to adapt and mitigate Climate Change. The DEC report also says that in protecting the air, they will address the greenhouse gas impact: “Requires use of existing pipelines, when available rather than flaring gas.” Flaring gas. Flaring gas is not the problem. The problem is the millions of households that will continue to the natural gas to heat their homes with this fossil fuel and that issue is not even mentioned in the report.

For those who think that this is an extreme view, reminding everyone that natural gas is a fossil fuel and that burning it as an energy source that heats the planet, they should remember that our government is preparing for climate change in a major way:

Global Climate Change Impacts in the US (2009) “This web page will introduce and lead you through the content of the most comprehensive and authoritative report of its kind. The report summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the U.S. and on various aspects of society and the economy such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. It’s also a report written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision making at all levels.”

So, here’s my point: You got one branch of your government bending over backwards to provide fossil fuel for us to burn, why other branches of government are preparing and trying to prevent Climate Change from getting far worse. Climate Change isn’t a game where a ball gets batted, bounced, or kicked from one barrier to another. It’s physics: If you continue to put more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, the ball goes one way—towards serious, worst case scenario Climate Change.

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