Natural Gas a good move for SDSU

Editoral Board


Issue: SDSU switches to natural gas after years of coal power.

Switching from coal to natural gas is generally regarded as a good thing. It has been advocated as a replacement fuel for everything from cars to power plants. Natural gas is produced cheaply and easily in the United States, unlike oil. It produces far less carbon when burned than coal and doesn’t release nearly as many pollutants. It is important to note natural gas does produce carbon emissions when burned, just significantly less than coal.

Many states are reaping the economic benefits of natural gas production. Wyoming, for example, is booming, a new gas well is drilled, it seems, daily. People are making tremendous amounts of money working on wells. In many of these gas fields they can’t get enough workers, which bodes very well for unemployment rates. Other states are benefitting as well, New York and Pennsylvania are not the least among them.

This is great, especially during a recession. The more energy we can produce here the less we have to rely on the Middle East. Reducing our reliance on coal decreases our pollution output as well, making our air and water cleaner. Experts estimate there are at least 100 years worth of natural gas reserves in the U.S., which means natural gas could help keep the country powered for a century.

It’s amazing; we have a cheap, fairly clean and readily available fuel source that provides good jobs to a lot of people and environmental groups support it. That is a rare thing.

Except for one problem: fracking.

Fracking shoots a solution made of around 99 percent water and sand into a hole drilled thousands of feet into the planet’s crust. The other one percent is made of a chemical cocktail designed to help break apart rock that contains natural gas. Fracking is exempted from several EPA regulations as well. There are concerns over contaminating drinking water and there’s even claims that fracking could cause more earthquakes.

Natural gas drilling is also known to release very small amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide could ever be. Simply put, if the level of methane in the atmosphere rises, the world would probably get a lot warmer a lot quicker.

The truth is natural gas is cleaner to burn, but still has some problems. This is nothing new; every solution creates a new problem that leads to a new solution and a new problem, that is how progress works. If there are problems with natural gas they are far fewer and have far less impact than any other readily available fuel source.

Stance: SDSU’s switch to natural gas is a good thing.