Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NEW SOLUTIONS: Concerns Related to Shale Gas Extraction

The journal New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy has just released a special issue. It covers concerns related to shale gas extraction with respect to scientific, economic, social, environmental and health policy.

The issue opens with an Editorial entitled "An Energy Policy that Provides Clean and Green Power" by Craig Slatin and Charles Levenstein. They write:
  Now shale gas extraction conducted through the technological process commonly referred to as “fracking” is touted by the oil and gas industry as the next great energy boon. They tell us that gas will be so plentiful that it will answer all of our energy-related problems. Best yet, it will end the unemployment crisis that lingers past the Great Recession, leading to millions of jobs over the next several decades. Its promoters claim that we can have energy independence and a fuel that burns cleaner than coal—while they spread denial that the threat of catastrophic climate change is real or has much to do with human activity.

Let’s not be deceived: shale gas extraction will neither fulfill the prophesies nor be useful in the transition to just, democratic, and ecologically sustainable economies across the globe. It is business as usual. It is owned and operated by industries with more than a century’s legacy of greed, corruption, war provocation, pollution, illness, injury and death, environmental degradation, and a steady stream of propaganda and lobbying to limit its regulation by governments.
One claim of industry propaganda is backed by a reference to a publication from an independent source. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the Marcellus Shale deposit “contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas," a figure which is 80 percent less than that supplied to the U.S. Energy Information Agency by industry consultants.

The Editorial concludes with a call for the need of a national energy policy that addresses climate change and protects human health and welfare:
Whatever short-term assistance the American economy gains from the continued use of fossil fuels, the highest priority must be placed on establishing a national energy policy, coordinated with an international set of energy policies, that aims for immediate measures to avert catastrophic climate change and establish a transition toward producing and delivering clean, green, and sufficient energy as part of the foundation for sustainable development. Attention to the health and welfare of workers and communities affected by these changes must be an essential priority of this new energy policy.

This special issue of New Solutions was organized by guest editors Robert Oswald, a Cornell professor, and Michelle Bamberger, a practicing veternarian. Many will recognize these individuals as the authors of a 2012 report entitled “Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health." Oswald and Bamberger also wrote the introduction for the special issue.

Eleven articles in the issue cover scientific, economic, social, environmental and health policy. Authors include experts, such as Jannette Barth, Wilma Subra and Ronald Bishop, who have testified on aspects of shale gas extraction before the New York State legislature. Also, Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell professor of civil and environmental engineering, is interviewed in one of the articles.  

The entire issue spans 221 pages and the PDF is available here.

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy  seeks to deliver "authoritative responses to perplexing problems, with a worker’s voice, an activist’s commitment, a scientist’s approach, and a policy-maker’s experience." Journal articles are "written for both the academic and educated lay audience." Its the Journal intention "to affect the public health policy discussion and shake up the policy debate." Articles are peer reviewed using a process described here.

No comments: