Fracking: A False Choice

by Paula Apynys for Green Living, The Economy, Working

There is plenty of coverage about fracking available for interested people, with cheerleaders on one side and opposition on the other. I’m in the opposition group. 

The major problem bedeviling the issue is the complete disconnect between the pros and cons. The people that support fracking do so because it makes money (for some). The people who oppose it do so because we think it hurts the environment. Both are right. So the question becomes: what’s more important?

Some fracking supporters try to cross the barrier by claiming natural gas is cleaner than coal so using fracking to increase our supply of natural gas leads to less coal-burning, thereby reducing carbon emissions. That may be true, but it’s basically a “lesser of two evils” argument. Especially given the down sides of fracking: toxic wastewater getting into our rivers and groundwater, and earthquakes. What might be a better approach to reducing carbon emissions? A full-scale embrace of Solar and Wind power. If the U.S. put its collective intelligence and resources into serious development of Solar and Wind we could change the world.

But the usual suspects line up to keep us dependent on fossil fuels: fossil fuel companies, investors in fracking operations, and all the people who feed into or are fed by those interests: politicians, corporate owned media, Wall Street, etc. Also property owners — some people have been paid well for access to their lands. Now that their lands are poisoned, well, hey, sh!t happens, right?

Many well-meaning politicians also argue that fracking, in it’s various incarnations, creates jobs and we’re desperate for jobs, right? The fact that the jobs are relatively few, and mostly transient is another one of those annoying little facts many prefer to ignore. 

People who promote fracking make money from it. They have decided their profits are more important than the environment. They suck in a certain percentage of folks whose pensions or 401k’s have investments tied to fracking or fossil fuel companies. Or, at least, the people that manage pensions or sell investment vehicles. Fracking promoters convince other “middle-people” — politicians, job-hunters, property-owners — to support them because nothing much else is going on to help people financially.

Fracking is a perfect example of Americans being given the choice between bad jobs or no jobs. We have to stop accepting that trap.

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