Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Winning the Debate on Fracking

Energy
Winning the Debate on Fracking

Earthjustice

By Maria Beloborodova

Earthjustice Attorney Deborah Goldberg came out victorious in a July 1 Intelligence Squared debate over whether the natural gas boom in America is doing more harm than good. Arguing against the super-intensive development of natural gas, she targeted the reckless, breakneck speed at which the industry is progressing.

Goldberg asked, “So, what characterizes a boom?" and answered her own question.

It's big. It's sudden. And it blows a lot of smoke. And the natural gas boom is doing all of that to an extreme. It's too much. It's too fast. And the hype is just over the top.

The boom is devastating the environment, wrecking communities and diverting the focus away from the much needed development of renewable energies, Goldberg said, adding:

There are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to ensure that this industry can continue to operate without the science and without the protections we need. As a result, what we are hearing now is not how we're going to end our addiction to fossil fuels, but instead, a hundred years of gas.

Goldberg’s partner in the debate, Riverkeeper’s Watershed Program Director Kate Hudson, brought forward some strong points about the grim consequences of fracking: contamination of drinking water; exposure of communities living near fracking sites to serious pollutants; and the deceptive economic benefits of the gas boom, including some short-lived but extremely dangerous industry jobs.

Hudson argued for “trying to move towards a green economic future for our children, rather than having a fossil-fuel based industry come back.”

The pro-fracking side was presented by Joe Nocera, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and Sue Tierney, former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. They pushed the argument that natural gas is the “single best way to diminish coal production,” and tried to convince the audience that the natural gas boom is an enormous “gift” to Americans.

The two sides found some common ground on the issue of industry transparency and regulation: both agree that they must get better.

Goldberg criticized the industry for failing to publicly disclose the list of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing:

We do know, as a result of lots of public pressure, that some of the chemicals that are used in this process are toxic, but there are many chemicals that have never even been tested as to their toxicity, and we have no clue what they're going to do to our health or environment, in the short or the long term.

An overwhelming majority of the audience spoke out against the industry’s secrecy and its reckless pace of development, and demanded a safer solution for addressing the nation’s energy needs. Both points set the groundwork for Goldberg’s closing statement:

We need to scale back, slow down and resist the boom mentality. We do not have to drill hundreds of thousands of wells just because we can. We have to ignore the advertising slogans on both sides and stop living in a fantasy world of endless fossil fuel consumption without consequences.

When the votes were cast, 58 percent of the audience believed that fracking does more harm than good, officially designating Deborah Goldberg and Kate Hudson as the debate’s winners. The audience said “no fracking way” to the impulsive, profit-driven and uncontrolled experiment of natural gas drilling.

To listen to the debate, click here.

Visit EcoWatch's FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

 

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less