LETTER: Renewable energy is the answer, not shale gas

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

Shale gas is not the answer to lowering carbon emissions. While we are faced with the threat of runaway climate change, it is imperative that we do not continue our reliance on fossil fuels, whether it is shale gas, coal or oil, to fuel our growing energy demands.

Extracting and burning shale gas is incorrectly labeled as “cleaner” than burning oil simply because it is less carbon intensive. Not only does the release of methane (which is over 20 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon) significantly contribute to the greenhouse effect, but the extraction process (fracking) is dirty and destructive. Since 2005, 250 billion gallons of water have been contaminated because of fracking. Fracking wastewater is very difficult and expensive to clean and restore to a usage state, so it is almost always dumped in a toxic waste pit, often in someone’s backyard. In light of the extreme droughts in California, not to mention areas around the world without access to clean water, how can we justify polluting the single most vital, and very limited, natural resource that we have?

Solar and wind power technology is sound. Bavaria, a region in Germany with 0.7 percent of the landmass of the U.S., produces more solar power than all 50 states combined, and local economies are reaping the benefits from solar and wind farm cooperatives. Renewable energy is the answer to sustainably reducing carbon emissions, not shale gas.

Michelle Graziosi

Chapel Hill