The Fukushima meltdown, while being downplayed as a low-level concern in the mainstream media, is a major disaster on par with the Gulf Oil spill. Both disasters are hard-hitting events that have catalyzed opposition movements against nuclear and deepwater drilling, respectively. But, it is the less visible environmental contamination, the fracking toxification of freshwater sources, that seems to be drawing together people from across several states to focus on the singular issue of natural gas drilling.
While the nuclear industry is working overtime to tell a different story then the obvious reality of radioactive food and water, and instead pushing the line about how nuclear energy is a low emission energy source, the natural gas industry too is working overtime trying to repair its image after a series of hard hitting pieces from the New York Times broke open the hidden, slow-leak contamination that is the hydraulic fracturing industry; death by 100,000 gas wells.
The Fukushima diaster, while putting the brakes on the nuclear industry (maybe permanently) has given natural gas the push in energy policy it was waiting for. With utilities now questioning their decision to move ahead with development plans for new nuclear reactors, natural gas is seeming more and more like the safer of the two options. But all is not rosy for natural gas.
Several states have already moved forward with bans on shale gas drilling and others are considering more moderate approaches whereby fracking chemicals used by companies will have to be disclosed. The latter option will only lead to bans being deferred by a couple of years until specific cases of groundwater contamination can be definitively pinned on specific companies. Either way, utilities betting on natural gas is not an option that comes without considerable risk. Oposition will solidify against natural gas in the coming years as more and more contamination shows up. Drilling regulations will force natural gas prices up, and cheap investments today will not seem like bargains in the future. Likewise, once greenhouse gases are regulated and the full lifecycle of natural gas is assessed, utilities that choose gas over renewables will be paying a handsome tax in order to burn the gas to make to their electricity.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster has turned water in the region radioactive overnight, and while natural gas hydraulic fracturing may take some time to do so, it has the potential to turn water radioactive all the same as radioactive gases are released when certain rocks are fracked.
Below is a brief rundown of the various state legislative bans, moratoriums, and regulations circulating through the states; it is now a comprehensive list, but a place to start looking at a developing oppostion movement to natural gas hydraulic fracturing. The real point to consider here is whether or not these disperate groups now can get together and create a national movement numbering in the millions and march on D.C. demanding federal action on the issue.
Fracking is a national issue because the rivers, especially on the eastern seaboard, flow into other states. Fracking contamination in Pennsylvania flows into several other states. Radioactive water in the Deleware has the capacity to kill people not only in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but also in New Jersey and New York.
Here’s the list:
Groups want moratorium on drilling;
Oil. natural gas drilling proposed for park land;
Concern runs deep for natural gas waste disposal;
Marcellus shale drilling debate heats up in Ohio;
Fracking banned in New Jersey;
Lawmakes declare New Jersey a no fracking zone;
Bills would protect water supply from fracking;
Pittsburg bans natural gas drilling;
Safety critics want moratorium of gas drilling;
Is our water safe;
New York assembly approves fracking moratorium;
EPA asked to revisit ban on drilling in NYC watershed;
New York Times’ expose on fracking offers lessons for New York;
Natural gas and clean water;
Moratorium on gas drilling close to passing;
MD lawmakers warned of gas drilling woes in PA;
House bill delays Marcellus shale drilling;
Hydrofracking; is it safe;
Halt gas drilling until water safety is assured;
DRBC adds to drilling comment period;
Scientists: Delaware river faces threats;
Governor plans action on Marcellus;
Marcellus shale takes center stage in state politics;
Delegate wants Marcellus shale drill moratorium;
Fracking controversy skips Michigan for now;
Natural gas drilling regulation bill fails in Senate;
Report says Arkansas needs tougher gas regs;
One gas bill stalls, rest sent for study;
Bill would require disclosure of chemicals used in fracking;
Texas hydraulic fracturing disclosure bill is inadequate;
Fracking; the great shale gas rush;
Why D.C. wonks are humping the leg of natural gas;
Natural gas now viewed as safer bet;
Drilling down on fracking concerns;