Monday, September 11, 2017

Fracking is a Progressive Technology, not a Necessary Evil

The New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial page editor, Tom Moran, came to the defense of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Here are some excerpts from Climate change is why environmentalists must reconsider fracking:

The Sierra Club, like most environmental groups, vehemently opposes fracking for natural gas, and building pipelines to send it to market.

But it's time for them to take a fresh look.

But those risks can be managed with vigorous regulation. The Obama administration has found only a few isolated cases of water contamination, and believes the methane leaks are not big enough to outweigh the clear advantages of switching to natural gas. [This op-ed was published in October, 2016.]

Yes, the ultimate challenge is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels entirely. And a hefty carbon tax is the best way to start. But Washington isn't close to doing that.

Even when they do wake up, as they will have to eventually, a carbon tax would not suddenly end our reliance on all fossil fuels. It would take years, probably decades.

We need to bring a fanatic realism to this fight, and that means taking every step we can to reduce carbon emissions now. Including fracking.

I left these comments:

I agree but have two thoughts.

First, while some climate catastrophists such as the Star-Ledger do seem to have human well-being at heart, this cannot be said of hard-core environmentalists. Hard-core environmentalists do not care if reliable replacements for fossil fuels are available. They mean to shut down fossil fuels, no matter the human cost.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club are not primarily concerned with climate change. If they were, they’d not only support fracking and natgas pipelines for reasons stated here, but in the long term nuclear power, the only currently viable energy technology with the capability to completely replace fossil fuel electricity generation. Instead, they oppose nuclear. Why? Leading environmentalists are at heart not humanists. They are anti-industrial reactionaries. They see energy deprivation as key to halting industrial progress. That’s why the Sierra Club and its ilk are seen opposing reliable energy projects wherever they are proposed in NJ, such as the recently scuttled natural gas plant in Hillsborough. Their standard of value is to minimize human impact on raw nature, not to maximize human well-being.

Second, this article seems to consider fracking to be a necessary evil. I disagree. Fossil fuels are the most economical and reliable energy technology overall, powering rising living standards around the world. And fracking is the most wonderfully progressive energy technology achievement in a long time. Fracking has opened up vast new supplies of life-giving energy. If governments around the world would get out of the way, fracking would generate many additional decades of reliable cheap energy to fuel human progress the world over. Yes, there are negative side effects. From everything I understand, these problems are fixable through technology and rational anti-pollution laws. (One side effect not mentioned is that the fracking process may trigger small earthquakes in some areas. But that’s not due to fracking, but to related efforts to dispose of wastewater deep underground, where the water lubricates faults causing them to slip. New technologies to dispose of the wastewater are already under development. Click here and here.)

The scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors that brought us fracking are humanitarian heroes, in my view.

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1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

The ultimate challenge is not to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, not with government nor by any other means. And any carbon tax is nefarious. Rational, science based anti-pollution laws is all government has any business doing. Sorry, liberal, progressive, socialists, but beyond that, the market is the only way to go for the whole concept of energy and power production, and for any technology or industry coming out of it.