Where We Live: The Fracking Debate

The debate behind one of New England's favorite fuels

Photo by Rennett Stowe (Flickr)
Where We Live: The Fracking Debate
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Where We Live: The Fracking Debate

Natural gas is responsible for more of New England’s energy than you might expect.

More than 40 percent of power plants in our region are fueled by gas. It’s cleaner - though more expensive to burn - than coal. And with the cost of heating oil high - many homeowners have switched over.

For years, we’ve had to pipe it in from as far away as The Gulf of Mexico.

But a new source has been found in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and western New York. The cost of importing might be lower from this source, but what is the environment impact?

When gas is extracted through a process known as hydraulic fracturing---otherwise known as fracking, residents of some nearby towns say their water supplies are contaminated with the chemicals used to push the gas to the surface.

We’ll talk with a reporter from ProPublica who has been covering natural gas and the impact on the environment.

Do you use natural gas? Are you concerned about the environmental impact? Or do you see it as a good alternative to fuels like oil and coal?



Ethanol is very expensive

Ethanol is very expensive when compared to oil or gas. And it has only 1/2 of the energy per gallon as gasoline, which means you will need twice as much to go the same distance as with gasoline. It is a very expensive way to reduce dependance on imported energy.

Listener email from Bruce

If fracking wasn't a dangerous process then why did Cheney spearhead the EPA exemption?

Listener email from Mary

Years ago (2003) we met a thoughtful family who lived outside of Pinedale, Wyoming. Pinedale had been a quiet rural community ~ 1 hour south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The wife described how fracking had completely changed Pinedale - by contaminating residential water wells, a steady stream of large semi-trucks on small rural mountain roads, and pounding noise 24/7. In addition laborers who worked on the rigs for long shift tend to take a drugs to keep them awake, and drug addiction in the area has increased crime. The municipal government was overwhelmed with the costs - road repairs, increased crime, environmental damage, . . . It was stunning to hear this from a polite woman living amidst the magnificent Wind River Mountains.

This is a national issue - based on the fact that the Bush administration allowed drilling to not comply with environmental regulations. The echo-chamber of the right-wing is going to push fracking as "innovation" being shackled by the EPA. Thanks for encouraging people to pay attention.

Facebook comment from Christopher

Does ethanol not burn hot enough to be an alternative to coal and gas?

Facebook comment from Thomas

Luckily, New England is blessed to be almost completely free of Oil, Coal, Natgas and other dirty deposits. We still fuel our power plants with it though, so we should be aware of the human cost of this on the people whose lives are effected by unregulated fracking. If only we could repower Connecticut with Solar, Wind and other renewables, we wouldn't have to be paying this dirty industry.