Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 15, 2013

Forum: Fracking, more harm than good


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — By Bill Hansen and John McDonald

The Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council has concluded that horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, should be banned. It poses a threat to the global environment and should be stopped immediately, everywhere.

All methods of mining the earth for fossil fuels cause damage to the environment. However, fracking is one of the most damaging of all. Currently, the state of Michigan endorses fracking “if it is done right.” But more regulations with better enforcement only pushes us further toward reliance on dirty fossil fuels that threaten our environment and human health.

Technologies such as fracking, tar sands processing and off-shore drilling are some of the more risky methods that have been devised to deceive us into believing that fossil fuels are inexhaustible. Fracking facilitates this deception.

A popular idea is that natural gas can serve as a bridge to cleaner sources of energy in the future. However, this ignores the economic reality that as long as natural gas and oil can be produced at a lower cost than clean energy, through exploitation of natural resources at no cost to the fracking industry, the incentive to develop clean energy is severely challenged.

How can we justify to future generations the squandering of millions of gallons of water for each well drilled when pure, uncontaminated water is becoming ever more scarce? Currently, fracking is not even subject to federal Environmental Protection Agency clean water regulations. And fracking, by adding to current CO2 levels, actually contributes to one of the greatest problems facing the continued existence of life on our planet, global warming.

If fracking had to pay for the natural resources it damages, natural gas would not be cheap. We cannot allow horizontal fracking to further devastate our vital natural resources. Water and air are held in common and belong to all people. It is in our common interest to vigilantly protect them. To that end NMEAC supports an immediate ban on fracking so our world can move as swiftly as possible from dependence on dirty fossil fuels to a clean energy environment.

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not after we got through with it.”

— President Lyndon B. Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act of 1964

(Editor’s note: NMEAC’s position paper can also be found on the group’s web site: nmeac.org

About the authors: Bill Hansen is a NMEAC board member and a former executive director of an environmental education center near Lansing. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment. NMEAC board member John McDonald holds a bachelor’s degree with economics and sociology majors and a master’s degree in counseling; he was a social worker and counselor for more than 30 years.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.