Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good News in the Fight to Beat Back Fracking

Today some very welcome news emerged from the State Geologist. According to the FAQs posted on the office's website, which you can read in full here, fracking is “probably not” coming to Massachusetts:
Based on a survey of all available scientific data, the geologic conditions in the Connecticut Valley in western Massachusetts are not optimum for shale gas development.  Black shale units in the Hartford Basin are generally too thin, laterally discontinuous, and are cut by too many pre-existing natural fractures and extinct faults. This makes extraction of hydrocarbons economically not feasible with today’s technology at current market prices... However, more data need to be collected to completely rule out that possibility.  
In addition, oil and gas wells used for conventional or enhanced hydrocarbon recovery are defined as Class 2 wells under the Massachusetts Underground Injection Control Regulations (310 CMR 27.00).  Class 2 wells are currently prohibited in the Commonwealth.
This is certainly worth at least one sigh of relief. But even if Massachusetts itself stays frack-free, the state is still complicit in the practice. After all, most of the electricity we use here comes from natural gas. So every time we turn on a light (or type a blog post) we can be sure it’s because somebody somewhere in the country is having their land fracked. By the way, the effect of fracking on one American community is the subject of the new feature film Promised Land, starring Matt Damon. To see a two-minute trailer, just click here.

As well as ensuring that we stay frack-free, there is something we can do right here in Massachusetts to stop fracking elsewhere in the United States. By using our market power, we can force energy companies to certify that the natural-gas they burned to generate electricity they are selling us did not pollute anybody’s drinking water. That is the idea behind a bill the Sierra Club promoted in the last legislative session, with the support of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s state convention.

If you would like to learn more about this bill and other legislative proposals to speed up the switch from fossil fuels to renewables, please come along to the next meeting of the Pioneer Valley GRP, which is at the forefront of the fight to Beat Back Fracking. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 21, 7:00 p.m. in Agawam Public Library.