Environmental Consequences in the State of Confusion

by Katrina Kelly

 Widener University Political Science Major

In recent years, the clash between finding alternative resources of energy and creating a sustainable economy has become one of the primary focuses of our political culture.  One public policy solution is to use natural gas as an alternative to gasoline: however, the affects of using natural gas is potentially hazardous to health, economic and environmental security.

Last Tuesday President Obama gave a State of the Union speech wanting America to be more energy independent and utilize more natural resources. The Energy Crisis is at a critical stage and government officials are scrambling to find alternative sources of energy to combat the dwindling availability of crude oil. The use of natural gas and oil are the main sources of energy to heat our houses and fuel our cars. Currently, natural gas provides almost 25% of energy for the United States and has the potential to provide 50% of energy by 2035. President Obama would like to see even more natural gas utilized as a main energy resource. The natural gas companies are not currently regulated by the EPA and have the ability to extract natural gas on private and public land without disclosing the chemicals they use in the process of hydraulic fracturing. Obama mentioned he would like the gas companies to have to disclose those chemicals used on private lands to be known. If there was a bill passed like the FRAC Act which requires gas companies to give out the chemical information on private and public lands for health information, it would be a miracle. President Obama even conceded the problems with shale drilling, “Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail.” Are the payoffs worth the risks and even worth trying if they are another non-renewable resource that will run out in the next century?

President Obama said, “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.” There has always been a zero-sum game between the environment and the economy, and in this current economic crisis and election year there is only one clear winner that Congress will chose: the economy. Natural gas does not solve the energy crisis for Americans nor protect their economic safety. Natural gas is a non-renewable resource just like petroleum. Once we use up all of the natural gas in the United States, we will be forced to look to other countries to support our energy. President Obama said that we have enough natural gas on our shore to sustain us for the next 100 years. Once we use up the natural gas in the next century, what will we do then? In some ways, the use of natural gas a main source of energy is just as if not more dangerous to economic security as oil, and even more hazardous to the environment and our health. In order to close the energy crisis, we must look for other renewable resources of energy.

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