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My husband, John Lennon, and I bought a beautiful farm in rural New York more than 30 years ago. We loved the tranquility and beauty of the area. Our son, Sean, spent many precious days there growing up. Our family still enjoys it now.
Like the rest of our state, this peaceful farming community is threatened by fracking for gas. Giant pipelines, thousands of tractor-trailer trucks ripping up roads, loud air compressors, air pollution—and most of all, the certainty of poisoned drinking water.
Certainty is the right word, according to the engineers, as the wells drilled for fracking will leak. According to industry documents from the gas drilling giant Schlumberger and other studies, six percent of the wells leak immediately, and more than 60 percent of them leak over time. And no wonder they leak—the pressures of the earth thousands of feet under the ground cracks the cement well casings. The big variations in temperature along the well at various depths expand and contract the cement until it cracks and leaks.
And what leaks from the wells?
Toxic hydrocarbons like benzene and methane that are under the ground. And the toxic chemicals injected with millions of gallons of water at high pressure to fracture the bedrock to get at the gas.
This is why you can see families literally light their tap water on fire in the movie Gasland from the leaking methane. And why homeowners across the country have had their drinking water ruined with the chemicals used in fracking.
Meanwhile, there is no place to put the toxic wastewater that comes back up from under the ground. About half of it stays underground forever. In Pennsylvania, it is often dumped into open pits where the toxic chemicals volatilize into the air. Sewage systems cannot handle it safely.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made some very important and strong statements about combating climate change, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which I applaud. But he must not believe the hype that fracking for gas is good for the climate. It isn't.
The methane that leaks from the wells, and even from the pipelines and compressors, is a very powerful greenhouse gas—100 times more than carbon dioxide. When the bedrock is shattered, the methane also migrates away from the wells. More than a tiny bit of this leakage makes fracked gas as great a problem for our climate as coal. And the leaks are not tiny.
I understand the pressure on the governor to create jobs and help the economies of rural areas. But fracking creates very few jobs, and most of them will not go to New Yorkers. We could create far more jobs by insulating every building in the state to save energy and changing all the windows to more insulating models. Doing this would save far more energy than fracking will ever produce, plus lower consumer heating and electric bills forever. In contrast, fracking and climate change will cause economic damage and decline.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney succeeded in removing fracking from all federal regulations. It is no longer covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, or the Clean Air Act, or even the National Environmental Policy Act.
If fracking isn't safe enough for the Clean Air and Water Acts, it isn't safe enough for New York. And the energy won't even go to New York. There is a glut of gas on the market, and the companies plan to export what they produce here to other countries.
Governor Cuomo, please don't frack New York. Don't allow our beautiful landscapes to be ruined, or our precious and famous clean water to be dirtied.
Your draft plan won't allow fracking near New York City's water supplies. But if it isn't safe enough to be near New York City's water, how can it be safe enough for rural communities, or the New York side of the Delaware Basin that feeds drinking water to Philadelphia?
No amount of regulation can keep these wells from leaking. Please stand up to the fossil fuel industry and save our water, our climate and our state. Let's make New York the Clean Energy Empire State, not the state of dirty fracking.
Yoko Ono is the co-founder with her son, Sean Lennon, of Artists Against Fracking.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
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"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
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"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
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