Last week this blog had a good discussion about Abraham Lustgarten's lament that the middle ground on fracking had been lost, and that it should be found once more. Pro Publica tonight is sponsoring a forum, entitled the Perils and Promise of Fracking in New York City, at which Mr. Lustgarten will be one of 4 panelists. Will the lost middle ground be found?
Pro Publica will offer a live web-stream at http://www.propublica.org/atpropublica/item/the-perils-and-promise-of-fracking.
It will be interesting to see whether the truth about Dimock and EPA testing is accepted. Will the panelists accept that gas migrated but that hydraulic fracturing did not cause contamination? Will the panelists focus on real impacts from gas drilling and how to reduce them? Will the industry accept its responsibility to build a ubiquitous culture of safety and be accountable for mistakes? Will regulation that is professional and independent be genuinely embraced by all?
Will the panelists compare the impacts posed by coal, oil, gas, nuclear, biofuels, large hydro, wind, and solar? Such a comparison would find that the impacts on water from gas production are not zero but less than coal, oil, biofuels, large hydro, and arguably nuclear.
Will the panelists note that the electricity market share of coal has declined from 52% in 2000 to 39% from November 2011 to January 2012? Will the panelists accept that the market share of gas over the same time has increased from 16% to 27% and is displacing coal, while wind power in the USA has doubled since 2008 and solar power has increased 8-times since 2008? Will anyone note that pollution from mainly old coal-fired power plants caused 34,000 premature deaths last year, according to EPA data, while natural gas plants emit no soot and meet the EPA's Air Toxic Rule?
What does California raising its renewable standard for electricity production to 33% by 2020 indicate? Major progress to me. It shows the big strides that are possible by the most aggressive renewable energy state in the nation, and among the most aggressive jurisdictions in the world. Yet, where will California get its remaining 67% of electric power? Gas is the principal answer today and in 2020.
Will anyone note that natural gas consumers and electricity consumers have saved $1,000 in the last year? Will anyone speak to how important such savings are to the lives and safety of those with median incomes or certainly incomes below the 25th percentile of incomes?
Can the center hold? Will the lost middle ground be found?