Fracking is a valuable tool on path to renewable energy
The Another Voice column of July 27, calling for a federal ban on fracking, throws out the baby with the bathwater. Three key factors make natural gas production by fracking an important tool for the long-term development of renewable energy supplies.
First, the natural gas being produced by fracking is speeding the decrease in the use of coal for electric power generation. Surely we agree that fracking is by far less environmentally damaging than mining coal. Also, the combustion of natural gas produces far less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than the burning of coal. Also, natural gas-generating plants provide a cheaper path to needed reserve capacity when sun or wind power cut out.
Second, energy costs have a profound impact on the budgets of families of modest incomes. The few hundred dollars a year that typical families are saving in gasoline costs because of the recent drop in the price of oil represent increases in disposable income that have not been seen in recent decades. That drop in prices came about because of competitive pressure from natural gas.
Third, the national goal of being more independent of imported energy is a genuinely valuable one. The less we are held captive to unpleasant oil-rich regimes, the more freedom we have to implement a high-minded foreign policy.
The path to energy independence using renewable resources is a very long one, and at each point along it we need to be able to support our society and our citizens. Fracking is a valuable tool for this purpose.