Home Energy and Environment People Arguing for the Fracked Gas Pipeline Are Just Factually Wrong

People Arguing for the Fracked Gas Pipeline Are Just Factually Wrong


According to an editorial in this morning’s Daily Press, the proposed new natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina is “the type of project Virginia should embrace.” In contrast, the Daily Press falsely disparages opponents of the pipeline as “the NIMBY crowd” (utterly absurd, as I’m confident that most environmentalists would be happy to see solar panels in their “backyards” – on their roofs, etc.). Yet, oddly and illogically, in the same editorial the Daily Press acknowledges that environmentalists are “understandably worried about the potential impact of a natural gas pipeline running across Virginia,” and that their “concern for the environment is well placed.” The Daily Press further acknowledges that private property owners will “worry will be about fair market value for their land and protecting themselves from unwanted or unfair encroachment.” Gee, ya think?!? Yet, somehow, despite all that, the Daily Press still concludes that we should “embrace” this project? Uh…WTF?

Meanwhile, in its own internally illogical editorial, the Virginian Pilot acknowledges that this pipeline will NOT be the “game changer” Gov. McAuliffe claims it will be (remember, McAuliffe’s the same guy who introduces everyone as “the greatest [fill in the blank] in the history of [fill in the blank],” so take ALL his claims with a huge grain of salt). The Virginia Pilot also admits that “fracking fouls groundwater and pollutes the air,” but claims that it’s not “worse than for coal or oil,” so…yippee(?).

So much illogic, red herrings, and ignorance, so little time to address it all. Let’s just list a few facts (yes, they are empirically verifiable, just do some research) here:

1. There is no doubt whatsoever that hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is how the natural gas for this pipeline will be produces, tears up the environment – water pollution, air pollution, habitat destruction, earthquakes, etc. – in the process of getting it out of the ground.

2. There is no doubt whatsoever that fracking uses ungodly amounts of (increasingly scarce) water in its process.

3. There is no doubt whatsoever that the fracking process emits methane – a greenhouse gas much more potent thatn CO2 – at rates which “Negate Industry Claims of Fracked Gas’ Benefits”.

4. There is no doubt whatsoever that fracking (the development of which was heavily subsidized by your tax dollars, by the way) artificially lowers the price of natural gas, since “externalities” are not incorporated (e.g., frackers get to pollute with impunity), thus foolishly delaying the inevitable domination of renewable energy.

5. There is no doubt whatsoever that energy efficiency is a far better option than increased fossil fuel production, in terms of “bang for the buck,” “low-hanging fruit,” “Econ 101,” whatever you want to say.

6. There is no doubt whatsoever that (non-polluting, clean, abundant, cheap) solar and wind power costs have plummeted in recent years, are already competitive with natural gas in many areas of the country, and will be competitive in Virginia as soon as next year (BEFORE this new gas pipeline cranks up, making it a $5 billion white elephant?).

Finally, it’s important to understand why this pipeline has gotten as far as it has. It’s very simple, really: just go to VPAP and check out where the $9 million (!!!) Dominion Power has donated to Virginia politicians over the years has gone. Basically, Dominion controls Virginia’s government when it comes to energy policy, and it’s used that control to lock its current business model into place, whereby all their incentives are AGAINST conservation and energy efficiency, and FOR producing more fossil-fuel-generated power. Oh, and those incentives are all FOR continuing the dying, top-down, command-and-control, centralized model and AGAINST the distributed energy revolution that’s sweeping increasing parts of America and the world.

In short, Dominion is a negative, reactionary force that has worked for years to block any progress on Virginia energy policy and to entrench themselves in their position as an incumbent industry, theoretically-but-not-really-regulated monopoly, and major polluter. The question is, why would anyone who cares about Virginia’s economic future — in a 21st century where clean energy, not fossil fuels, will be a key to success — support this pipeline to nowhere? I hate to be cynical, but the short answer is simple: just follow the money, keeping in mind that the “Virginia Way” is basically a system of legalized corruption, lobbyists and corporations making a mockery of democracy, and other fine features like that. Great stuff, huh?

  • pontoon

    for posting this.  Nelson County is one of the Virginia counties through which this pipeline will travel.  After the verdict in the McDonnell’s trial, I posted this on my FB wall:

    My rant for the day: It is a sad day for Virginia and Governor McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Facing financial and marital problems, as they obviously were, is difficult. I can’t imagine trying to keep up appearances in the name of politics. Everyone knows I am a Democrat, but I don’t relish in this verdict today or feel like cheering. I am truly sorry for all this mess. However, I’m not sure Jonnie Williams got nearly as much from Governor McDonnell as Dominion just did from Governor McAuliffe. Before my democratic friends start fussing, I know Dominion’s contributions were to Governor McAuliffe’s campaign, not to him personally as were the contributions to the McDonnells. But honestly, isn’t the real problem all the money being spent by corporations in politics? The Supreme Court, as yet, hasn’t given corporations the right to cast a ballot. The people still hold that sacred act in our hands. But I feel our leaders, on both sides of the aisle, are selling their souls to the highest bidder and ignoring the will of the people. It is a sad, sad day and I pray the McDonnells can find their way through it.

    I know some folks here on BV don’t feel my compassion for the McDonnells, and that’s fine. It’s more than the will of the people being thwarted by all this money.  It’s science.  It’s plain old facts.  In the simplest of terms, buying access or legislation through campaign contributions or through private donations is still corruption in my viewpoint.  

  • scott_r

    I’m not quibbling with any of your points about the problems of fracking, but if we succeeded in stopping the pipeline, would it actually stop the fracking or would the gas find another route?