Readers Write: Natural gas won't save America
Letters to the Editor for the weekly print issue of May 21, 2012: Natural gas is a stopgap at best. What are the long-term risks of fracking? The real issue is the huge quantity of water used and chemically contaminated in the fracking process.
Natural gas can't meet all US needs
Regarding the April 23 cover story, "Who needs oil?": Natural gas for transportation is a stopgap at best. Gas reserves will diminish in proportion to the US shift to that resource for fuel. While forecasting exact supply and consumption is fraught with technical and economic considerations, the fact remains that fossil fuels are nonrenewable.
The sustainable path forward for managing our energy resources and our economic future starts with conservation in the spirit of cooperation.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
While I certainly appreciated the balanced reporting of this subject, one set of questions was left unanswered: Exactly what kind of chemicals are being injected into the ground during the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process?
And why are drilling companies choosing not to disclose these chemicals and their potential effect on the environment, namely the quality of drinking water for residents dependent on natural aquifers (water wells)? What are the long-term risks of this procedure, and how will drilling companies be accountable for any problems that may arise?
L'Wanda A. Greenlaw
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
The debate about the environmental impact of fracking for natural gas often focuses on whether nearby water wells and aquifers are contaminated by the fracking process. As important as that is, the real issue is the huge quantity of water used and chemically contaminated in the fracking process. According to a Chesapeake Energy website, a "deep shale natural gas or oil well requires an average of 4.5 million gallons per well."
It is the water that is the precious stuff here, not the gas. In light of global water shortages, when all the gas is burned or leaked, we may eventually wish we had the water. This seems like a backward alchemy, turning gold into lead.
The cover story poses this question: Can natural gas save America? To my reading, the article provides an overriding framework for an answer to that question when it reports that the supply will last only 90 years. There are already some people among us who will see that day in their lifetimes.
Gig Harbor, Wash.