Fracking” operations pose a staggering array of threats to our environment and health – contaminating drinking water, harming the health of nearby residents, marring forests and landscapes, and contributing to global warming. Many of these damages from drilling have significant “dollars and cents” costs. To the extent that this dirty drilling is allowed to continue, policymakers must require, among other things, that the oil and gas industry provide up front financial assurance commensurate with the potential for damage.
At the top of the long list of serious problems with the State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is the assertion that the pipeline will have no impact on climate change. The State Department asserts that if the pipeline is not built, the tar sands in Alberta will be exploited one way or another. Therefore, State asserts, the emissions in question will be released regardless of the Keystone XL pipeline. This is simply incorrect.
Weather disasters kill or injure hundreds of Americans each year and cause billions of dollars in damage. The risks posed by some types of weather-related disasters will likely increase in a warming world. Scientists have already detected increases in extreme precipitation events and heat waves in the United States, and climate science tells us that global warming will likely lead to further changes in weather extremes.
Coal- and natural gas-fired power plants pollute our air, are major contributors to global warming, and consume vast amounts of water—harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. Wind energy has none of these problems. It produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming, and uses no water.
America has more than doubled its use of wind power since the beginning of 2008 and we are starting to reap the environmental rewards. Wind energy now displaces about 68 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year—as much as is produced by 13 million cars. And wind energy now saves more than enough water nationwide to meet the needs of a city the size of Boston.
Global warming is happening now and its effects are being felt in the United States and around the world. Among the expected consequences of global warming is an increase in the heaviest rain and snow storms, fueled by increased evaporation and the ability of a warmer atmosphere to hold more moisture.
Environment America Research & Policy Center
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