Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bro, do you even frack?

As the reasons not to support Clinton and the Democratic party dwindle in the Naderite pockets of the Left, one issue continues to be raised, and will continue to be raised, because it's a motherfucker.

Fracking.  No one except energy companies like it, and yet Obama, and now Clinton, won't support a ban.  What gives?  I mean, it's safe to assume that at least Clinton's reticence is purely the product of her being purchased, via campaign donations, by the oil and gas industry, right?


I encounter this argument all the time, and kittens, it's like those people have never even stopped to consider that energy is sort of a zero sum game.   I mean, yes, our need for it increases constantly, but given the totality of our need, what we take from one place necessarily reduces what we take from another.  And what we take in the fracking fields reduces what we buy from other countries, and specifically reduces coal consumption overall.

By reducing what we import from other countries, we increase domestic employment, and we reduce our own prices.  The natural gas boom in the US has meant a 47% decrease in the price of natural gas, which saved the average US household $200 a year.  That's not nothing.  To poor families in the winter, that's a lot.  Over the entirety of energy consumers, including electricity consumers, fracking has meant a total savings of 74 billion.   To say nothing of the considerable savings we've experienced at the pump.  Again, to the middle class and below, these savings are extremely important to a family's ability to make ends meet.

And the switch from coal to natural gas has reduced nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions drastically.  Our air quality has actually improved because of fracking, with generators emitting 25-45% less nasty stuff.

Something else, too.  You know those giant supertankers that bring imported oil to our shores?  Did you know that, because of the kind of fuel that they burn, just 16 of those ships create as much filthy, sulfurous, people-killing pollution as all the automobiles in the world?  To say nothing of oil spills at sea.

So, wanting to reduce their use for oil imports is, again, not nothing.  It's important.  And fracking has done that.

And of course there are also the somewhat more difficult-to-quantify benefits of not having to spend quite so much time defending our oil interests in foreign countries.  That's a whole can of worms, huh?

Okay, so I imagine I'm well past the point where you're all either gone, or have written me off entirely because AM I DEFENDING FRACKING FOR FUCK'S SAKE??

Not exactly.  But not exactly not.  What I'm in favor of, is understanding the consequences of our actions, and so if you insist on a complete and total ban on fracking, you should also understand not just the bad effects that you want to eliminate, which, yes, are considerable - but also the benefits that you would also eliminate.

I know.  Shit's complicated.

But of course ultimately the goal is to eliminate fossil fuels altogether, and thrive on a diet of sunshine and warm breezes, and maybe recycled unicorn manure.  Some would say that by lowering our oil and gas costs, fracking offers us complacency, thereby delaying our essential ventures into alternative forms of energy.

And they may be right.  But if they're right, then that means that what WILL motivate us into giving up fossil fuels, is the rest of the world suffering from the effects of oil and gas extraction, while we protect ourselves from those same effects.

I think anyone who knows anything about the US, knows that we are seldom motivated by the suffering of those outside our own borders.  Not that we don't feel bad about the suffering of foreigners, because, hey, je suis Charlie, n'est pas?  But does that empathy actually motivate us to do anything about their suffering?  I mean, of course, you can always feel free to assume the best about us.  Who could that hurt, that really matters?


dguzman said...

I have learned to assume the worst--because when it comes down to it, we all need the energy that fossil fuels give us. We can buy our hybrids and turn off lights when we're not in a room and protest against fracking--but in the end, we are bound to our energy needs by the world we live in. Not the natural world but the world of having to drive to work. Of having to heat and cool our homes. Of participating in the modern world around us. So no matter how bad we might feel, we'll still fill up that gas tank when it's empty. And enjoy the air-conditioned public spaces. And buy stuff in plastic packaging. It sucks but we need it. It's complicated indeed.

Marshall Park Slope said...

Well this is timely. And I don't just mean "unicorn manure" ��
But on our way to the beach this weekend, we stayed over at a childhood friend's house of mine, and my friend's younger brother(also a friend) who is/was a DC lawyer and now is employed by the US Senate and is by his own words an "environmental and energy expert" told me (and I believe it's worth mentioning he is easily the most level headed, calm, mostly unemotional, if not long winded but yet an interrupter debater:) the whole "faucet water shooting flames is not a result of fracking". I wasn't exactly prepped to tell him he didn't know what he was talking about because I certainly don't, even though I've seen "those videos". So yeah, you and he both caught me off guard. And I believe/hope in a good way.

vikkitikkitavi said...

DGuzman - These times call for unflinching reality. No boogeymen allowed.

Marshall - Ooof, sorry, but I don't wish to be compared to that dude, who sounds like he is rationalizing the 100% real results of fracking when safety and environmental concerns and regulations are ignored or suppressed.

Again, I am not endorsing fracking, because I do not like it, and, like nuclear energy, I'm not convinced it can ever be done safely. Other people think it can be, however, as long as we tightly control the methods and provide correction and redress for people who are damaged by its practices.

My main point, is that politicians, and I assume Clinton is among them, recognize the benefits of our current energy situation, and are loathe to return to our previous level of dependence. And I can't blame them for that.

Marshall Park Slope said...

I got you and ( sorry for delay in reply btw) I would Never EVER lump you with him. I know it sounded like that but not my intention.

I guess what I really wanted to post (perhaps even blog post unrelated) was that hearing someone speak from the inside was at the very least eye opening, though it's clear he is of the "machine" and I am sure gets his fair share of "spin" placed right in his lap.


Dad E said...

One thing about fracking is that there is great fear that ground water will be contaminated by the liquids used to break up the shale. So far the EPA has found no such incidents. Not to say we need to stay on top of what happens going forward.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Let me reiterate: I am not in favor of fracking, necessarily. I am merely pointing out that to universally oppose fracking is to commit to a fuel import policy that is potentially more damaging to the environment.
In other words, shit is complicated.