MainLine Peace Action/DelMont PDA

December 8, 2009

Our Energy Solution Is Not Under The Ground

The New York Times  tells us about a new company, Tres Amigas, that plans to build a big power hub in New Mexico that will tie together the three power grids in this country.  Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/energy-environment/08grid.html?_r=1&ref=business

This will make possible not only the sharing of power among all regions, but will allow us to tap the enormous sources of wind and solar energy concentrated in the West.  Already wind turbines in Texas on some days generate enough electric power to take care of the whole nation.  The problem is transmission and variations in energy availabilities among regions.  The new hub will help solve that problem.

It is interesting that one site that would generate huge amounts of wind power is the tops of the Appalachian Mountains.  But instead of putting up those turbines, we are tearing down the mountains!  Mountain top removal is in full swing, destroying mountains that withstood the great glaciers, and filling mountain streams with rubble and waste (called  “fill” by the mining companies).

In a wide swath that extends from Virginia to New York, and especially under Pennsylvania,  lies the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that contains giant amounts of natural gas.  But to get the gas out, you don’t just drill a hole.  You have to do something called “frakturing,” pumping enormous quantities of water and chemicals into the shale to flood the gas out.  The water, full of contaminants that can cause cancer and birth defects, then either pollutes area drinking water wells or is trucked out to treatment plants in southeastern Pennsylvania and eventually pumped into the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay, to further pollute our greatest inland marine environment.

What seems to be the lesson in all this?  “Drill Baby Drill” is not the answer.  Cutting down forests and mountains and blasting shale beds with contaminated water is the way to enrich a few large corporations but it is not the way to solve our energy problems.  Clean renewable energy is ours for the taking – wind and solar.  It is free and it is forever.  To distribute the energy we need modern electric grids as The Times article indicated.  That is all eminently doable.  Let’s get started.

Walter Ebmeyer.

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