Opinion: Recent studies show natural gas dirtier than coal

The entire debate over the recently reapproved Vermont Gas pipeline has been filled with false claims that natural gas is cleaner than oil and coal. While this was once true, it failed to be so about a decade ago.
This came about due to the presidential order issued during the Bush/Cheney administration that exempted hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Now that oil and gas producers no longer have to follow these pesky environmental regulations, oil and gas extraction is much easier and less expensive. Unfortunately, families, businesses and wildlife in and around fracking wells are suffering from the toxic contamination the activity now produces … contamination and pollution that is leading to death and disease that is destroying communities and ripping families apart.
All this was illegal until the signing of the presidential order by former President George W. Bush. The difference between the environmental impact of natural gas extraction prior to the presidential order and what we experience today is so great that all the recent independently conducted, cutting-edge research (such as that conducted at Cornell University) has indicated that today’s natural gas industry produces just as much, if not more, greenhouse gas emissions than the coal industry, the fossil fuel long vilified as the dirtiest form of energy.
It is not very Vermont-like to profit from the hardship and suffering of others. Therefore, as much as I like to support my local businesses I will not be able to, in good conscience, continue to buy goods and services from companies, businesses and restaurants that choose to convert to using the dirty and destructive fracked gas that the pipeline will deliver.
I sincerely hope that the companies that have already publicly stated their intention to switch to fracked gas delivered by the pipeline (Green Mountain Beverage, Agri-Mark/Cabot, Country Home Products, Vermont Coffee Co., Porter Hospital and Middlebury College) will change their mind. If they don’t, I hope that the majority of my friends and neighbors living throughout Addison County will join me in boycotting the businesses and institutions that decide to burn gas instead of one of the other numerous and less destructive options available.
Ross Conrad
Alice Eckles

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