Letter (Sept. 8): Natural gas is no panacea
September 16, 2013
Natural gas is no panacea
In response to the citizen efforts to protect the Thompson Divide from oil and gas development, David Ludlam, of the West Slope Oil and Gas Association, has been quoted as saying: "Pitkin County is one of the largest per capita consumers of natural gas and energy in the state, so if you're going to have that type of consumption on a per capita basis, there has to be a broader discussion about what that community's role might or might not be in terms of actually participating in energy development."
Here is a "broader discussion":
The Thompson Divide includes Garfield, Gunnison and Pitkin countyies. As we all know, the communities surrounding the Divide have been extremely active enhancing energy conservation and increasing the use of renewable energy. There isn't enough space on these editorial pages to describe all of the efforts. Yes, we are using natural gas and will do so for the foreseeable future. But, there are many of us who do not look at natural gas as a non-polluting source of energy (which it isn't) or as a bridge fuel until we can eventually replace it with all renewables.
In my opinion, the increased use of natural gas takes our eye off of the real goal, which is to continue to develop sustainable, renewable, clean-energy sources such as solar and wind. The supposed economic benefits from oil and gas development contain many externalities which we will all pay for later. These include, but are certainly not limited to, increased carbon dioxide emitted, predictable water contamination, and increased levels of ozone. Natural gas may be better for the environment than coal and tar sands oil, but it is certainly no panacea.
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None of us should be embarrassed or feel guilty for defending our environment and taking a local stand. Mr. Ludlam can call us all wealthy, elitist, hypocritical snobs, for all I care. The bottom line is that we must assure, as best we can, that at least our little part of this planet is preserved for the future.