While Bernie Sanders has labeled climate change as the most pressing problem of our time, and favors a policy to halt fracking, Hillary Clinton has a different approach.
Just as the huge methane leak in California’s Aliso Canyon has been capped, there is emerging news of another, larger methane leak in Texas.
The California leak, which drove residents of Porter Ranch from their homes, had peak hourly emissions of 58,000 kilograms of methane per hour. Estimates place the total emissions from that leak released into the atmosphere at 96,000 metric tons of methane as well as benzene, nitrogen oxides and other poisonous materials. It has been compared to the disastrous BP Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico for the damage done to the environment. Despite the displacement of people and the adverse effects caused by the leak, Southern California Gas has only been slapped with misdemeanor violations.
The Texas leak is worse.
Researchers from universities in Colorado and Michigan, partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund, estimate that about 60,000 kilograms are released into the atmosphere every hour by over 25,000 natural gas wells in the massive Barnett Shale formation. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is located smack dab in the middle of it. Combined, it is estimated that about 544,000 tons of methane pour into the atmosphere every year from the Barnett Shale and the Eagle Ford Shale, a second large formation. Methane, although shorter lived than carbon dioxide, is about 20 times more potent when it comes to contributing to global warming and the climate change we are experiencing.
The Center for Public Integrity, The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News conducted a joint study that spanned eight months. They found “a system that does more to protect the industry than the public.” The fossil fuel industry has no intention of doing anything to lessen their bottom line, so safety first is just an empty promise.
We’re talking Texas here, with a fossil fuel industry that stubbornly turns a blind eye to the ramifications of what it is doing because it is raking in mega-bucks doing it. And they’ve got the lawmakers in their pocket. A study done by the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that nearly a quarter of the state legislators in Texas has a financial interest in at least one energy company in the Eagle Shale
These are but two of the leaks that are releasing noxious fumes into the atmosphere. Satellite mapping done in October of 2014 indicates large methane dispersion in the four corners region of the Southwest at the junction of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
Which brings me to the presidential race. One candidate has branded climate change as the most serious problem facing the United States and the world. That candidate is Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton mouths platitudes about climate change but her record speaks a different story. As Secretary of State, Clinton sold fracking around the world.
Clinton talks a good game about how fracking can be done in an environmentally safe way, but the facts prove otherwise. Sooner or later, there is going to be a leak and people will be displaced, poisons released into the atmosphere and the rate of global warming increased. The science on this is clear. The record of the fossil fuel companies contributing to her campaign is clear.
Hillary Clinton talks about renewable energy, but she also cites natural gas as a “bridge” to a cleaner energy future. Yes, natural gas does burn cleaner than oil, but it’s still dirty and contains a long list of pollutants and poisons, and the fracking process to extract it is much more harmful to the atmosphere than CO2.
One can talk about being competitive in the world energy market all one wants, but the fact is the earth is rapidly warming; and we are seeing the ramifications of that warming every day. Whether it is the California drought, which is still in full swing and not likely to be helped much by an El Niño that has pretty much petered out; or the thousand year flooding that took place in South Carolina last October; or the unseasonably strong tornadoes that stuck Texas just after Christmas; drought and famine linked to the Syrian unrest; or the February heat wave in Australia that broke a 150 year record; the evidence of what is happening is all around us. So one must wonder why Secretary Clinton views fossil fuel production in the form of natural gas via fracking as a way to combat the pressing problem of climate change.
The United States is generally acknowledged to be a leader, if not THE leader, in the world. When the matter concerns the health and safety of every living being on the planet, our leader should put people over profits – and over campaign contributions.
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things.
Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web