Energy’s future is not the past

Jan 7 2018 Letter-to-the-Editor by Eric Engle,Parkersburg, WV
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

As of Dec. 29, the Trump administration officially repealed a 2015 rule that set standards on hydraulic fracturing on federal land. According to The Hill:

“The Obama rule focused mainly on three areas: mandating that companies disclose the chemicals they use to frack, requiring them to cover surface ponds that house fracking fluids and setting standards for the construction of wells.”

The Trump Interior Department attempted to delay until 2019 implementing rules meant to capture methane emissions from oil and gas operations as of Oct. 4, 2017, according to CNBC. The Interior Department, to quote CNBC at the time, “is seeking to water down or scrap the rules and wants to avoid imposing compliance costs on energy firms since it may ultimately kill the regulations.” A federal judge in San Francisco put a stop to this, thankfully, but the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will still likely kill the regulation if possible. Methane emissions contribute to at least 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally.

In the midst of all of this, the BLM is permitting more oil and gas leasing in the Wayne National Forest, Ohio’s only national forest. The Wayne has units in Marietta, Athens and Ironton and the Marietta and Athens units are the most threatened. On this side of the river, with the Chinese memorandum of understanding, we’ll be looking at $84 billion of oil, gas and petrochemical development in the next 20 years. With the cracker plants, pipelines and storage hubs will come worse methane emissions, millions of gallons of contaminated water from our rivers and streams and other fresh water supplies after hydraulic fracturing (with contaminants that we’ll not be informed about, despite the fact that private studies have shown the presence of radioactive and carcinogenic materials), more wastewater treatment facilities threatening surface and ground water supplies, and more brine and residual waste trucks running nonstop on our roads. Not to mention the threats to private property owners who have to live close to all that, and who the companies will try to deprive of their lands.

When will Central Appalachia and the surrounding region realize fossil fuels are not the future? We must develop and produce renewable energy (solar, wind and water), electric vehicles with plenty of charging stations (including electric trains, planes and large truck fleets), develop commercially viable plastics and polymers alternatives (hemp shows a great deal of promise) and change our agricultural and development practices to focus on local, sustainable agriculture and development (including dramatically increasing energy efficiency and building more durable infrastructure to defend against new climate norms).

Let’s stop being victims of industry and start being the captains of tomorrow’s industries!

Eric D. Engle