Monday, April 18, 2011

Go Joe!

Joe Nocera, New York Times op/ed columnist posted a defense of his recent piece called "Pass the Boone Pickens Bill" after receiving an "avalanche of angry e-mails and comments."  In the defense, he articulately lays out the case for natural gas in the face of mounting anti-gas noise, including an upcoming academic article by Cornell professor Robert Howarth that I believe will be discredited quickly for its weak data and questionable assumptions.

In the follow-up piece, Nocera argues that natural gas is not perfect, but it is a hell of a lot better than the alternatives.  Most importantly, issues that are valid concerns are fixable.

Lately, I've become particularly disturbed that hydraulic fracturing has become a Democratic/Republican political issue, more so on the Democratic side.  There are a lot more issues involved here, swing state politics, mostly, by my calculation.  Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a report noting the toxic components of hydraulic fracturing fluid.  Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to fracking is to have the practice tacitly endorsed by Dastardly Dick Cheney and his closed-door energy policy formulation.

The Congressional report is not particularly new news, but it is giving the issue a national stage.  Unfortunately, the report is being followed by a trail of sensational headlines that don't fully reflect the content of the report, but they make readers click links and read articles.  It is also being used as a scare tactic to raise money, an unfortunate strategy employed by everyone in politics.

The concerns about hydraulic fracturing are getting out of hand.  The facts haven't changed, but the level of attention has.  I continue to believe that the practice will be validated as safe (assuming all precautions are followed), but it will be a rancorous fight to get to any conclusion.

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