Benzene in your drinking water . . . just say no!

February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

100 years natural gas supply has a catch . . . say yes to PV!

Don’t believe in climate change?  How about cancer?  Congressman Henry A. Waxman and members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have reported that from 2005 to 2009, a large number of oil and gas service companies injected over 32 million gallons of diesel fuel into tight shale rock formations as part of a toxic fracking fluid concoction used in drilling operations in nineteen states.  Texas leads all states with over 50% of the volume. 

The injections appear to be in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act which was amended in 2005 as a favor to the natural gas industry to exclude regulation of hydraulic fracturing.  However, the amendment excepted the use of diesel fuel which includes benzene (C6H6) a known carcinogen.

I will spare you the contentious and familiar debate.  We know the players: the oil and gas industry, their lobbyists, their well financed sponsors (aka, U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives), the EPA and the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), environmental advocates, and partisan state and federal courts.  Is the outcome likely to protect your drinking water?  No, and neither is it a good bet for your children’s health.

The natural gas industry is overwhelmed with chutzpah!  The industry boldly reports 100 years of supply, maybe 200 years.  Really?  Can we imagine 100 years of injecting diesel fuel in rock formations?  Let’s stop and consider clean air and water for our children now.  100 years is important, but so is 2030.

How do the Electric Utilities generate electricity in the U.S.?  The EIA reports ‘Net Generation by Energy Source’ for 2009:

EIA - Net Generation by Energy Source - Electric Utilities 2009

EIA - Net Generation by Energy Source - Electric Utilities 2009

Hmm . . . so here is the lineup: coal = NOx, SOx, CO2 and Mercury emissions; natural gas = toxic fracturing fluids, water and air pollution from production; nuclear = toxic nuclear waste and security risks; and hydro = river and watershed degradation plus loss of habitat. 

What about PV solar electricity?  Well, it uses light as a fuel; it has no emissions; it uses no water, it’s distributive generation (no transmission and distribution), it’s long-term (think 40 years), virtually no maintenance, it’s 93,600 U.S. jobs in 2010, installations doubled in 2010, it’s renewable and sustainable, and it’s economic.  Nice scorecard!

To be clear, U.S. energy needs cannot be met by PV alone.  All of the above have a role to play, but we must do the best we can in providing safe and clean energy.  20% PV by 2050 is achievable if there is a public will.  If we need a proxy in making energy policy, I suggest thinking about what our grandchildren would choose.

Energy policy in America is a convoluted mixture of vested business interests, technology, politics, environmental advocacy, and national security.  It’s in the players’ self interest to disagree, and they will.  We cannot rely on government to get it right.  It simply will not happen.  But government will pay attention if their constituents get it right.

PV in America must be a groundswell movement.  It’s economic now; it makes good sense in every respect; so let’s just get the job done!  Let’s force the issue with our independent choices.  We all can be IPP’s (Independent Power Producers) with a scalable PV system at our home or business. 

Clean electricity is our collective future.

Chet Boortz, CEO


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