May 5, 2012

The Week in Green Politics: 5/5/12

Research raises new concerns about fracking

A new study on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale found that chemicals injected into the ground could reach drinking water more quickly that scientists previously thought. Via ProPublica,

Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth's underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry's argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment.

But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as "just a few years."

For quite a while, activists have been arguing that fracking chemicals could contaminate underground water sources. This study, appearing in the journal Ground Water, is the first peer-reviewed research into the possibility. It was funded by Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Park Foundation.

South Korea's Parliament approves carbon bill

South Korea, the world's seventh-largest carbon polluter, approved a bill to begin trading carbon dioxide emissions in 2015. The plan will make South Korea one of the first Asian nations to implement a cap-and-trade system.

The biggest emitter of CO2, China, is working along the same timeframe. Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand have already approved carbon-trading programs. The United States climate bill suffered an untimely death when the Senate refused to vote on it.

New book examines ExxonMobil's work to discredit climate science.

In Private Empire Investigative journalist Steve Coll looks into the political influence wielded by ExxonMobil. In an interview with NPR, Coll discussed the oil company's role in manufacturing confusion about climate change:

"It created an impression in the media and the public that there was a raging, deep controversy among scientists, and there wasn't a controversy, at least after 2002, when the doubts fell away in the face of evidence," he says. "It was the evidence and the modeling and the very science that ExxonMobil was calling into doubt that gradually became more and more alarming and attracted more and more support within the scientific community."

According to Romney ad, clean energy doesn't create jobs.

Zero green jobs? One can arrive at that figure by counting the number of jobs created by clean energy, then subtracting 2.7 million.

In a previous life (read: five years ago), Romney was quite a fan of clean energy and energy efficiency. Because of policies he once supported, the clean sector is growing much faster than the rest of the economy. The 64,000 workers who hold green jobs in Massachusetts might find Romney's new position especially interesting.

Heartland Institute compares people who accept climate science to mass murderers.

What can I say? If the folks Heartland want to brand themselves as lunatics, they're on the right track. Couldn't have done it better myself.