Why Renewable Energy Makes More Sense Than Fracking

By Zachariah Ralph, Sustainable Woodstock staff member

Vermont is the only state to have put a ban on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydro-fracking, in the United States. The drilling and fracking process involves drilling down and then over horizontally into a shale formation. Explosions break open the shale and release the gas. Three to five million gallons of fresh water mixed with chemicals and sand are then injected directly into the shale forcing the gas up the surface.

The problems with hydro-fracking range from ground water contamination to earthquakes, and because the fracking fluid used is considered a “trade secret” states are unaware of what chemicals are being used in their own back yards. Hydro-fracking, as a solution to our energy problems, is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on the Titanic. Corporations justify this short sighted and destructive process, that even China won’t do, by saying that it could create jobs, it could reduce our energy bills, and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. These arguments are used to support the drilling as if it were the only solution. However there is an even better solution; investing in renewables.

Solar as well as other forms of renewable energy can create jobs, reduce energy costs, reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, and generate revenues for the state for the long term. Getting solar panels can be complicated which is why Solar incentive programs have been popping up across the country to help people navigate this process. Worldwide there has also been a large push towards going solar as companies start to recognize the potential of taking advantage of the sun. Companies are developing solar powered cars, the first solar powered plane recently flew around the world and in Brazil they are hosting a racing rally of solely solar powered racecars.

It might be hard to imagine how a small community like Woodstock can make a difference in driving the nation’s energy policies when oil is a matter of national security. We, can however, control what goes on in our homes and in our own communities which is why people in the area are hopping on the solar band wagon.

Woodstock and Pomfret already have over 30 commercial and residential arrays! Anne Bower, a Pomfret resident, has solar panels and says that they she didn’t just go solar to reduce energy bills “but also to reduce the amount of (their) carbon footprint.” When Anne hears the inverter ticking she “knows that (she is) making a small contribution to the planet…” Woodstock residents Jill Davies and Nigel Hollis went solar and more because “it seemed natural to use the latest technologies to create an energy efficient home” and because “solar panels are the way to go for…knowing you are doing the right thing.”

When speaking with peers on the topic of energy there is usually very little disagreement. The millennials will one day inherit the earth and they do not want to deal with the same issues of energy security that we are dealing with today. Continued investment in fossil fuels simply postpones the work we as a nation need to do. Fracking is not the bridge to renewables, it just slows down the inevitable while fattening corporate pockets and draining ours. For this generation to have a bright and prosperous future there must be nothing less than a sustainable, diverse, and clean energy portfolio. Elementary school students are coming home and telling their parents to recycle, to get a hybrid car, to get solar panels etc. because even at a young age they are worried about their future. We who are capable of making a difference should be worried about our future, not our children.

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