It is very unfortunate that Ernest Moniz, the new Energy Secretary, is, like Barack Obama, an “all of the above” energy guy.
In his first week in office last week, he said some good things publicly about energy efficiency and solar, wind and geothermal energy.
The problem, however, is that Moniz is a big supporter of fracking. In the same interview linked above, he describes shale gas as a “bridge fuel,” giving us time, he says, to “develop the technology and lower the costs” of clean, renewable energy.
In this short interview Moniz accurately states that there is less C02 from the extraction, production and burning of gas than from coal or oil, but there is no mention of the huge issue of fugitive emissions of methane from fracked, as well as conventionally-produced, gas, all throughout its lifecycle. A growing number of reputable studies over the last two years have shown that, especially over a 20 year time frame, the production, distribution and burning of gas produces more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than oil or coal per unit of energy produced. This is the case because methane is a much more powerful GHG than CO2. And even the best regulations, backed up by adequate enforcement agents and mechanisms, all very unlikely, can have at best a limited impact. Gas is, after all, a powerful fossil fuel.
Moniz talks about developing the technology and lowering the costs of renewable energy, as if renewables are off in the future. They’re not. The fact is that fully 82% of the new electrical generating capacity in the United States in the first quarter of 2013 came from renewables, after 50% of it doing so for all of 2012.
We are literally on the cusp right now of the renewable energy revolution which can give the world a fighting chance of avoiding climate catastrophe. But the oil and gas industry is going full speed ahead, with federal government support, to dramatically increase pipelines and other infrastructure and build export terminals along our coasts. Their plan is to frack even more of our land, ship fracked gas around the world where gas prices are higher and make lots of money for their investors, even though the cost of gas will escalate for us here in the States.
This in no way is going to help the renewables industry. Resources to invest in energy are not unlimited. And which choice we make during these next few years of Obama’s second term will be decisive when it comes to the prospects for future generations on this earth.
This is the time, and we are the people who have to prevent the fossil fuelers from literally fracking it up.
Fortunately, many of us are stepping forward to do so. This June Stop the Frack Attack, a national network of groups fighting fracking which didn’t exist a year and a half ago, is calling for and organizing coordinated actions and initiatives throughout the month of June. The call to action explains why:
“Throughout the country activists are engaged in different battles against fracking and oil and gas drilling while campaigning to reduce harm from the industry in places where oil and gas is deeply entrenched. We are working to prevent the construction of new pipelines, compressor stations and gas export terminals, and to enact fracking bans or moratoria wherever we can. This growing movement is having an impact. More and more people in all walks of life are asking hard questions, learning the truth about fracking, speaking up and taking action.
“State governments and the federal government could act to protect us, yet too many elected officials are going along with the myth that oil and gas fracking is safe and that natural gas is a ‘clean’ energy source that brings economic benefit. We know that the myth is false: every dollar spent on more oil and gas keeps us from moving towards truly clean energy and ending our reliance on fossil fuels. It destroys truly sustainable jobs and the development of economies that are based on healthy communities.
“We have to tell everyone the real story. The out-of-control rush to drill is putting oil and gas industry profits over our health, our families, our property, our communities, and our futures. Our leaders must take action to stop the rush of unsafe oil and gas drilling.”
One of the forms of action happening in a number of places during this month of June is the showing of Josh Fox’s powerful sequel to his first movie on fracking, Gasland 2.
The last week of June will see actions organized by a new network, Fearless Summer. Actions against fracking will be linked with opposition to the other forms of extreme energy extraction: mountaintop removal coal mining, Arctic oil/gas drilling, tar sands oil exploitation and deep water offshore oil/gas drilling.
And one month later, during the statistically hottest time of the year, the last two weeks of July, day-after-day Join Summer Heat regional actions with a similar extreme energy approach will be organized by 350.org and other groups.
In the words of Christopher Fry:
“Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave until we take
The longest stride of soul [we humans] ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.”