Unfortunately, the Sierra Club leadership appears to have a paucity of understanding of the issues surrounding Marcellus shale hydrofracking activities.

The national Sierra Club has come out full-bore in  favor of hydrofracking because the resulting natural gas is cleaner and emits fewer greenhouse gases than coal. The local upstate New York Sierra Club people, however, are rightfully concerned over water, air, and other degradation.

NPR had a piece this morning on these aspects of Marcellus shale gas drilling. It was surprising to hear the head of the national Sierra Club, Carl Pope, taking the stance that opposition to Marcellus shale drilling as proposed is simply on the negativity bandwagon, against everything and in favor of nothing.

This myopic thinking likely stems from a number of factors. One is a lack of technical understanding. For example, Pope appears unaware that some are advocating hydrofracking only with benign substances, reducing potential negative effects on water quality. That the suppliers of hydrofracking chemicals include Haliburton signals that the Sierra Club would do well to examine this matter more closely.

Further, many people against hydrofracking as currently proposed are indeed for many things, including massive changes in our transportation systems. Appropriate land-use planning tied to effective public transportation systems will offset a lot more greenhouse gases than will fostering the natural gas industry, which, after all, is still carbon based. But this approach is far more difficult than just being for more drilling for natural gas.


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