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Thursday, April 4,2013

If you don’t like fracking, hope you like global warming

By Paul Danish

So you don’t like fracking, huh?

Hope you like blood for oil.

Surely you remember “blood for oil.” Blood for oil was the reason we invaded Iraq — at least that’s the way the local peace and justice crowd told it.

Blood for oil — or more precisely, the slogan “no blood for oil” — was all the rage in 2003. During the Iraq War the hyperactive activists at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center — the folks who are behind some of the local anti-fracking hysteria — were obsessed with blood for oil.

But that was then. Today the phrase “no blood for oil” seems almost quaint. That’s because U.S. petroleum imports peaked in 2005 and 2006 at about 13.7 million barrels a day (5 billion barrels a year), or about 73 percent of consumption, and started an abrupt decline. Last year they amounted to 10.6 million barrels a day (3.9 billion barrels a year, or about 62 percent of consumption), a 22 percent decline in the space of six years and the lowest level of imports in 20 years. A lot of analysts think imports could keep dropping at that rate indefinitely. Energy independence is a real possibility.

In no small part thanks to fracking.

Thanks to fracking, the United States’ strategic interest in what goes on in the Middle East is taking quantum leaps downward. The need to intervene militarily in the Persian Gulf, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, to secure access to oil is fading away like a Cheshire cat.

Blood for oil? Hey, that’s about to become a Chinese problem, not an American one.

But all of this would turn around in a heartbeat if the United States were to ban fracking, as the erstwhile “No blood for oil” activists are demanding.

Imports would again increase, along with prices and international blackmail, and the potential need to shed American blood to secure the oil on which the American economy and lifestyle is absolutely dependent (Boulder’s economy and lifestyle included) would return.

Under the circumstances, you would think that the peace and justice folks who do not approve of shedding American blood for oil would view a technology that reduced America’s need to import oil from hostile countries as the hottest thing to come along since Mahatma Gandhi. Uh, not exactly.

Still don’t like fracking? Hope you like global warming.

The glut of natural gas produced by fracking has resulted in plunging U.S. prices. They are currently about $3.30 per 1,000 cubic feet, down from more than $10 per thousand cubic feet in 2008. This has made it possible to substitute natural gas for coal in American power plants.

The switch has taken place at a breathtaking pace. In 2007, the U.S. got about 50 percent of its electricity from coal and 20 percent from natural gas. Last year it got about 32 percent of its electricity from coal and 31 percent from natural gas.

Since natural gas produces only half as much CO2 as coal, this has led to a spectacular drop in CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants that, in turn, led to overall U.S. CO2 emissions falling to their lowest level in 20 years in 2012.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, U.S. CO2 emissions in 2012 were 800 million tons lower than they were in 2007, the year they peaked. According to David Victor, an energy expert at the University of California-San Diego, 400 million to 500 million tons of the drop came from the switch to natural gas. In contrast, America’s 30,000 wind turbines accounted for just 50 million tons of the decline. Biofuels’ share was 10 million tons and solar’s was 3 million.

According to Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, the 400 million to 500 million ton reduction from the switch to gas from coal — made possible by fracking — is twice the total effect of the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions in the rest of the world, including the European Union. In other words, the American oil and gas industry’s merry fracksters have done more to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions than 20 years of eco-activism and government subsidies for alternative energy.

Of course, we would be much farther along the path to CO2 reduction if we were replacing both coal and natural gas with a genuinely carbon-free energy source.

Like nuclear power.

If we had not abandoned nuclear power in the 1970s, coal’s contribution to U.S. electricity generation would probably be measured in single digits by now, and natural gas’s contribution would be falling, not growing.

However, the anti-nuclear activists of the 1970s — aka the anti-fracking activists of today — succeeded in killing nuclear power in the United States. This resulted in a more than doubling of coal burning for electric power generation over the next 30 years. Between 1974 and 2006, coal burning increased by about 643 million tons a year, which produced 1.8 billion tons of CO2 a year — that could have been avoided if anti-nuclear activists had been less active.

Now the same activists are trying to take out another technology with a demonstrated ability to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. They claim that wind and solar can replace natural gas and oil, and therefore fracking can be banned. Some day they probably can. But not yet.

Because of their intermittent nature and the absence of suitable batteries, wind and solar can’t provide base-load electricity, which means they can’t provide more than 20 percent to 30 percent of the country’s electric power needs. And in the absence of practical, mass-produced electric cars (which are also absent because of the absence of suitable batteries), wind and solar are pretty irrelevant when it comes to replacing oil and gas as transportation fuels.

Which means that if fracking is banned, the U.S. will burn more coal and produce more CO2. If you don’t like fracking, learn to love global warming.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty old coal plants, and dangerous expensive nuclear plants. It will fuel cars, trucks, vans, buses, locomotives, aircraft, ships, tractors, engines of all kinds. It costs far less. It will help keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty old coal plants, and dangerous expensive nuclear plants. It will fuel cars, trucks, vans, buses, locomotives, aircraft, ships, tractors, engines of all kinds. It costs far less. It will help keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. It is used to make many products, and will bring jobs that boost our economy. It lowers CO2 emissions, and pollution.

Over 6,000 select natural gas story links on my free blog. An annotated and illustrated bibliography of live links, updated daily. The worldwide picture of natural gas. Read in 79 nations. ronwagnersrants . blogspot . com


We either need to get off ALL fossil fuels. The debate between which is better is silly at this point and shows your lack of understanding of the urgency of the problem. Clearly the climate is changing, and it will continue to worsen as long as we consume any fossil fuels. Furthermore, a four degree (C) warming is expected in the next 50 years. How the hell are we going to deal with that? Oh, I know, more fossil fuel production. The line that nat gas is a bridge fuel is a bunch of hooey. Its a bridge to hotter and hotter climes, and if you think all the gas companies will just fade away when the bridge is complete, well, forget it. After all, its a corporation with different motives than you or I.



Yes, we could be sitting on mountains of deadly nuclear waste and have reduced CO2. Not convinced that would be a good trade-off. But there is no trade-off with fracking. We don't have to consider poisoning our kids, our air and our water in order to reduce CO2 by burning natural gas - because exploring, producing and burning natural gas has more negative greenhouse effect than even burning coal. Fracking is not a tool in the climate change toolbox.



Nice to read an article where the author has some ACTUAL knowledge of how energy (really) works in our country. I'll "triple dog dare" anyone in Boulder to read Robert Bryce's book from a couple years back. It is called "Power Hungry" and it explains energy density & scale and the plain FACTS with what it takes to power our world. Folks need to get educated on the issues and realistic alternatives as we transition from fossil fuels in the decades to come. It won't be fast & it won't be easy. Fracing and responsible development of oil & gas is part of the long term solution, NOT the problem like many misinformed individuals around Boulder seem to think. Nuclear needs to be part of the equation too. Let's have some ADULT conversation on energy. That sure would be welcome & refreshing... 




fracking = the blood of children and generations to come

don't have much time to comment on this.  but look up "erie rising" a group of mothers in erie, co taking on the fracking of thier town.  there has been really high levels of infant cancer and childhood sickness in erie ever since fracking began.  it has devasting health effects, polluting billions of gallons of water to the point that it can never, ever be clean again - it will destory the little that is left of our unpolluted watershed.  lots of facts online about the pollution caused by fracking at frackfreecolorado.org.  polluting our lands and water more so and endangering the lives of children and future generations is clearly not a solution to our depency upon foreign oil.  


Frackfreecolorado.org is far from unbiased and hence a terrible source to quote "facts" from. Lets think critically about this at least.



its sad how all this propaganda distorts the big picture. until the public knows of the motives of our leaders we will continue to maliciously violate eachothers beliefs, because that is what we have been trained to do. fracking is totally a free ride on our grandkids but our government has been doing this same thing for over a century now disguising there agendas through propaganda and ultimately blatent manipulation. its hard for a person to look past what is often called human nature, or deny that there problems where caused by anyone other than themselves and blame it on there genetics. the value of life has been degraded to the worthlessness of a dollar. hell wal-mart sells groceries, the very substance of our being, do you really think the general public is on the top of there priority list. People reduce everything to fads as we have been progammed to do, to hold jealousy and greed above all else. Its just sad that there is such a tie down of intelegence. intelectual property is close to monopoly with obama sliding through the TPP treaty under everyones noses. yet there are still people educating the public on there opinions or what they read based on someone elses opinions in a book. what ever happened to thinking for ourselves and loving our neighbor as our selves, be the change you want to see in the world. we just need to stop destroying life when its only there to help us. fracking is in the best interest of big oil companies who have harassed and suppressed every proof of free energy, yeah its not a dream its been done many many times. im sure exxon or shell has a pretty sweet vault of hundreds of patents for free energy. in the end the issue is we have been programmed to suppress and harass any ideas not in conjuction with our own and we are programmed as soon as our deadbeat parents sit us infront of the tv because they obviously have something more important than another human life, and it is then that we turn our parenting over to the media. good luck trying to explain what human nature when these kids are all grown up. but we have to keep the american dream alive! Cancer by 30!! whoo hoo thank you monsanto and big biz just what i always wanted o and while your at it id love to have a fracking site in my backyard just so i can insure my kids develope a terminal illness but as long as co2 emmissions are reduced then who needs kids. sound like a sound mentality?