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Nature: no free lunch...have we learned this lesson?

NO free lunch: issues with nuclear waste and hydrofracking for natural gas.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

Hydrofracking to release underground natural gas is being used ever more widely in the U.S. We hear a lot about the increase in known natural gas reserves in the U.S. We are starting to hear almost as much about the problems "fracking" can bring in some parts of the country. I've blogged about fracking issues before. You'd think those geologists and engineers would know that all rock strata are not alike. Or maybe they just want the gas, somebody else can deal with the damage suits?

Here's a recent radio program where they interviewed apologists, anatagonists and victims of the fracking biz in America. One clear conclusion: what's worked fine in West Texas doesn't seem to be so appropriate to the dense population and different geology in Pennsylvania.

In New York State there's a hold on fracking proposals there while a fortune's-worth of natural gas lies beneath the surface. One recent study of the New York situation questions the state is even capable of watching and regulating the natural gas industry there.

So what's all the fuss about? An exploding drinking water well in Dimock, PA, is the favored illustration for anti-frackers. Out in the wild west things are, of course, wilder. Exploding house, poisoned ER nurse, secret chemicals protected by federal law. Just one result of frack, baby, frack. Along with a nice, profitable supply of natural gas.

As a consumer of natural gas for my kitchen stove and back-up furnace I would understand higher prices if it would prevent you from drinking poisoned water or having your house explode inconveniently. [poll id="204"]


Not only is there no free energy, there's often the lingering hangover. Opponents of nuclear energy point out the problem with radioactive waste storage, for centuries. Proponents point out the solution(s) are just around the corner, and we need the electricity now. No carbon footprint. But is there a radioactive footprint?

A military nuclear plant used to produce bomb materials in South Carolina is going be another ball volleyed in this on-going game of slam and counter-slam. Despite a huge clean-up grant from the federal government, there are issues. And nasty politics, it seems.

The nuclear issue has split former political allies. Some environmental groups see it as our best way forward in the coming decades. Nucs not fossil fuel. Others see the long-term radioactive waste issue as pushing the problem down to future generations. The waste from the South Carolina plant, BTW, is destined for "storage" in New Mexico. Have we secured the rail lines?

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