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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What the Frack?

The Wind Turbine Ordinance was one of the topics at the March 14, 2011 Town Council meeting at the Charlestown Elementary School.

During the discussion Mike Chambers commented about Rhode Island’s use of natural gas for utility generation, stating that it’s good because it’s produced in the USA and the electricity produced from natural gas costs less than wind power. When Mr. Chambers finished his statement Councilor Avedisian “went all Medieval on him” about the controversy of using fracking to produce natural gas. His point was that natural gas production has much more environmental danger than wind power. You can see that on the video starting here.

This is an aside but virtually no electricity in the USA is produced with petroleum, unlike Mr. Chambers’ implication.

If I were taking the NIMBY view I would say that I don’t care about fracking because that’s done in Colorado, Texas, New York, and other places while the wind turbines would be here. But I think it’s important to be informed because energy policy is important to all of us.

The huge amount of money involved in energy guarantees that you can find extremely biased information, both pro and con, for both wind power and natural gas production.

The Economist is the publication I turn to most often to get a reasoned analysis of controversial subjects. They have a very recent article that reviews the fracking controversy and paints the industry as likely trying to hide the use of dangerous chemicals.

Last year The Economist wrote about how Quebec is hesitating to permit fracking in that province. Quebec banned fracking a couple months ago.

All of this leads to the showing of a movie. The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee is sponsoring a screening of the Sundance-acclaimed Gasland on June 10 at 7 pm in the Cross Mills Public Library.

"The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history is sweeping across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a 'Saudia Arabia of natural gas' just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination.  Part vérité travelogue, part exposé, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown."   -- from

Please attend. I'm not arguing for gigantic wind turbines in Charlestown, quite the contrary, but I am saying that we shouldn't be bragging about how green our electricity already is.

Author: Tom Ferrio