Why Mayor Bloomberg Has It Wrong on Fracking

Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg deserves tremendous respect for all he has accomplished as mayor and businessman, particularly in his support for sustainable action on climate change and as the driver for the C40Cities campaign. However, we were disappointed to read his and Mr. Krupp’s endorsement of fracking as a solution to our energy problems and the climate crisis.

Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Krupp failed to mention the most fundamental aspect about fracking, indeed the most important of all: water. The fracking process requires millions of gallons of drinking water per well, (and there are already tens of thousands of wells in the US, as well as many more drilling leases signed, permitted and awaiting drilling) which permanently remove clean water from our aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing calls for the adding of undisclosed chemicals--many of them known carcinogens--and leaving about half of that water in the abandoned wells. The contaminated waste from fracking wells must be stored, treated and transported elsewhere (i.e. NJ if we are not careful). Moreover, the chemicals used in the fracking process are exempt from our Clean Water and Clean Air laws, so public health is not protected at any point in this process. The massive water requirements from fracking  also compete with farming which is already stressed due to record droughts due to climate change. The infrastructure being built now is intended to deliver fracked gas to export terminals so this gas can be sold abroad, thus competing with US consumer demands which will drive the price of gas up. Growing energy needs abroad means even more fracking in the US. In other words, more drills and/or pipelines, compressor stations, metering stations through our neighborhoods, national parks, waterways & oceans. 

As for the methane emissions, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Krupp have glossed over the problem. Methane is up to 80x more powerful a heat trapping gas than CO2. Even without fracking, fugitive methane emissions from aging pipeline infrastructure is a serious climate forcing problem which we must deal with. A recent study of natural gas lines in Boston showed 3,400 leaky pipes that are allowing gas to escape into the air, posing risks of explosions and respiratory and other health hazards. These existing methane emissions are not being measured, never mind fixed. 

Mr. Bloomberg has done an amazing job greening NYC. However, we believe the complexities of the fracking issue, and new studies which are released every day, particularly those regarding threats to human health and the climate, require that we slow down on natural gas expansion. Fracking poses too many known threats to our water, environment and human health. Investment in clean, renewable technology, not fracking, is the answer. At minimum, more study needs to be done before any further fracking is approved.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment