Big Steps Forward for US Climate Movement
Continued from previous page
Without question, the problems with fracking will be part of what is said from the stage and printed on the signs and banners of those attending the Feb. 17 DC demonstration. President Obama is in serious need of a wake-up call about how problematic fracking is. So far, he has been an unabashed cheerleader for this polluting and destructive industry, not just for those who live near fracking wells or who drink water downriver from them but for the earth.
Fracking leads to significant releases of methane, a greenhouse gas between 72-105 times as powerful as carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it enters the atmosphere. Recent studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that, in Colorado and Utah, there was a 4% and 9% methane leakage rate, respectively, in areas where there are large numbers of gas wells. These leakage rates alone, not counting other methane released over the life cycle of natural gas, make the gas produced in these areas worse than coal as far as greenhouse gas emissions.
Natural gas, however it is produced, is a fossil fuel that when burned and when released into the atmosphere makes our historic task of reducing atmospheric ghg’s more difficult. The current “gold rush” to produce fracked gas has without question weakened the absolutely essential, urgent need to move from fossil fuels to clean, jobs-creating, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal.
We need a nationally coordinated, unified movement that recognizes fracking for what it is, that slows and stops the mad rush toward a massive expansion of gas infrastructure intended to dramatically accelerate overseas gas exports, and that works closely with the broader climate and progressive movements to accomplish this absolutely essential goal.