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Energy Crisis: No Long-Term Energy Plan; Dependence on Fracking, Offshore Drilling, Pipelines

How many warnings does it take from scientist, environmentalist, and other knowledgeable people, or presidents and politicians, before the United States and its citizens take the ever-looming energy crisis seriously? Domestic production of oil and gas are up. Mitt Romney supports subsidies for ethanol, supports the coal industry, supports building the Keystone XL pipeline, and wants to expand oil and gas drilling. But fossil fuels are poisoning us. The continued drive to produce energy derived from fossil fuel only diverts efforts to develop clean energy. A case in point: the latest trend is horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale to access natural gas. It’s a process that is highly controversial. Proponents say the process will lead the U.S. to energy independence. That it will help economically depressed communities, create jobs, and will help in the transition to renewable energy sources. Opponents warn of the risks: air and water pollution, radiation, cancer, global climate change due to the release of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Sierra Club President Robin Mann says that “Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities.” Penn State geologist Terry Engelder says that he believes “economic health has to come before environmental health is worked out.” Protecting the environment, however, must be our first priority. If we do not protect the environment we will not have a future, and our economic health or anything else will not really matter. But regardless of whether the U.S. allows fracking to continue, opens more areas to offshore oil drilling or whether we continue with the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, the United States must find new sources of energy that are renewable, sustainable, and environmentally safe. We must abandon our predilection for what has been our past, and, over time, lessen our dependence on fossil fuels: oil, coal, and natural gas. But we must be careful on how we make the

transition to clean energy. Fracking, since all of us cannot commit to its safety, is not one of those ways. We are in an energy crisis because the U.S. government has historically failed to proactively plan for our future energy needs. We have never had a comprehensive long-term energy plan. What is needed is a plan that includes sufficient research funding in order to find new sources of energy and ways to development them safely. Any plan must include consideration for the physical, biological, environmental, economic, health, and social effect on our communities, as well as energy conservation by finding ways to use it efficiently. And, what will be part and parcel to any meaningful energy plan is an understanding that we will have to put up with some inconveniences and make sacrifices. Instead of developing a comprehensive plan, what the U.S has done is to allow the oil and gas corporate giants to dictate energy policy where profit supersedes other considerations. If we allow this to continue we will never develop a comprehensive long-term energy plan and our dependence on fossil fuels – fracking, offshore drilling and pipelines -- will never end.

Sources: Heather Taylor-Miesle, Romney Gets the Energy Facts Wrong in Wednesday's Debate, The Huffington Post The Challenges of Hydraulic Fracturing, The Costs of Fracking, Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center Kevin Begos, Decades Of Federal Dollars Helped Fuel Gas Boom, Associated Press