The Madness of The Anti Fracking Crowd

abarrelfullabarrelfull wrote on 24 May 2012 09:07
Tags: pipeline shale usa

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Yesterday, Spectra Energy announced that it had received FERC approval for a new gas pipeline.

Spectra Energy Corp (NYSE: SE) yesterday received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its New Jersey-New York Expansion Project, which will transport new, critically needed natural gas supplies to high demand markets in northern New Jersey and New York City.

This is apparently the first major new gas pipeline for New York city in 40 years. By all accounts it needs it.

Con Edison is targeting 7,000 large buildings that burn fuel oil in the city to switch over to other fuels.

Apparently it is still possible to burn 3.5% fuel oil in New York city, despite it being banned in most other big cities around the world. It is not to be banned until 2015. Fuel oil is an amazingly dirty fuel. All crude oils contain heavy metals and other pollutants such as sulphur. Gasoline, Diesel and Jet Fuel have none of the heavy metals and have most of the sulphur removed. When burned in modern, well maintained engines they produce little of the other deadly pollutants as well.

In contrast, fuel oil produces particulates, sulphur dioxide and metals contaminated smoke. Natural gas meanwhile as pure as the driven snow in comparison. No metals, no particulates, no sulphur and a third less CO2.

So you would expect environmentalists to happy?

Well maybe not:

< "It's a very simple equation: The more buildings that switch to gas, the more hydrofracking will take place in NY state," New York resident Stephanie Low said in a letter to FERC this month.

Now I will not try to claim that there are not risks involved with hydrofracking, but lets get some perspective on this. Good management and best practice in well design can minimise these risks, whilst breathing SO2 and particulates can kill. Which problem is more important?

Why do discussions on the environment need to be logic free zones? Why has fracking become such a totemic issue, that it now overrides all other consideration? Shale gas has brought cheaper and cleaner energy to the USA, it is replacing coal at an amazing rate. It may or may not need to be regulated better but it has undoubtedly brought massive benefits which need to be weighed against any real or perceived problems.

Only in a parallel universe can fracking be worse that high sulphur fuel oil.

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