People Arguing for the Fracked Gas Pipeline Are Just Factually Wrong

Thursday, September 4, 2014

According to an editorial in this morning's Daily Press, the proposed new natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina is "the type of project Virginia should embrace." In contrast, the Daily Press falsely disparages opponents of the pipeline as "the NIMBY crowd" (utterly absurd, as I'm confident that most environmentalists would be happy to see solar panels in their "backyards" - on their roofs, etc.). Yet, oddly and illogically, in the same editorial the Daily Press acknowledges that environmentalists are "understandably worried about the potential impact of a natural gas pipeline running across Virginia," and that their "concern for the environment is well placed." The Daily Press further acknowledges that private property owners will "worry will be about fair market value for their land and protecting themselves from unwanted or unfair encroachment." Gee, ya think?!? Yet, somehow, despite all that, the Daily Press still concludes that we should "embrace" this project? Uh...WTF?Meanwhile, in its own internally illogical editorial, the Virginian Pilot acknowledges that this pipeline will NOT be the "game changer" Gov. McAuliffe claims it will be (remember, McAuliffe's the same guy who introduces everyone as "the greatest [fill in the blank] in the history of [fill in the blank]," so take ALL his claims with a huge grain of salt). The Virginia Pilot also admits that "fracking fouls groundwater and pollutes the air," but claims that it's not "worse than for coal or oil," so...yippee(?).
So much illogic, red herrings, and ignorance, so little time to address it all. Let's just list a few facts (yes, they are empirically verifiable, just do some research) here:
1. There is no doubt whatsoever that hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), which is how the natural gas for this pipeline will be produces, tears up the environment - water pollutionair pollutionhabitat destructionearthquakes, etc. - in the process of getting it out of the ground.
2. There is no doubt whatsoever that fracking uses ungodly amounts of (increasingly scarce) water in its process.
3. There is no doubt whatsoever that the fracking process emits methane - a greenhouse gas much more potent thatn CO2 - at rates which "Negate Industry Claims of Fracked Gas' Benefits".
4. There is no doubt whatsoever that fracking (the development of which was heavily subsidized by your tax dollars, by the way) artificially lowers the price of natural gas, since "externalities" are not incorporated (e.g., frackers get to pollute with impunity), thus foolishly delaying the inevitable domination of renewable energy.
5. There is no doubt whatsoever that energy efficiency is a far better option than increased fossil fuel production, in terms of "bang for the buck," "low-hanging fruit," "Econ 101," whatever you want to say.
6. There is no doubt whatsoever that (non-polluting, clean, abundant, cheap) solar and wind power costs have plummeted in recent years, are already competitive with natural gas in many areas of the country, and will be competitive in Virginia as soon as next year (BEFORE this new gas pipeline cranks up, making it a $5 billion white elephant?).
Finally, it's important to understand why this pipeline has gotten as far as it has. It's very simple, really: just go to VPAP and check out where the $9 million (!!!) Dominion Power has donated to Virginia politicians over the years has gone. Basically, Dominion controls Virginia's government when it comes to energy policy, and it's used that control to lock its current business model into place, whereby all their incentives are AGAINST conservation and energy efficiency, and FOR producing more fossil-fuel-generated power. Oh, and those incentives are all FOR continuing the dying, top-down, command-and-control, centralized model and AGAINST the distributed energy revolution that's sweeping increasing parts of America and the world.
In short, Dominion is a negative, reactionary force that has worked for years to block any progress on Virginia energy policy and to entrench themselves in their position as an incumbent industry, theoretically-but-not-really-regulated monopoly, and major polluter. The question is, why would anyone who cares about Virginia's economic future -- in a 21st century where clean energy, not fossil fuels, will be a key to success -- support this pipeline to nowhere? I hate to be cynical, but the short answer is simple: just follow the money, keeping in mind that the "Virginia Way" is basically a system of legalized corruption, lobbyists and corporations making a mockery of democracy, and other fine features like that. Great stuff, huh?