Coal and Natural Gas are two possible alternatives that could replace our dependence of oil in the near future, but both have severe environmental consequences. Coal is more abundant than oil and it is assumed to exist in nearly inexhaustible quantities. It can be used to produce electricity, sustain a cleaner environment than oil, and drive production for electric transportation.” (Turk and Bensel, 2014) Acidification however, is a fundamental drawback to dirty coal and its poisonous levels of CO2 on the environment are slowly choking our oceans and everything in it.
“There is a way to absorb some of this pollution” says; Jenrose Fitzgerald, author of “The Messy Politics of Clean Coal: The Shaping of a Contested Term in Appalachia’s Energy Debate. (2012) “By using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) a technique that involves capturing the pollutants and sinking them deep beneath the Earth’s surface in an effort to prevent it from being released in the atmosphere.” Regardless if we can capture the toxins or not, CCS cannot prevent people from losing their lives in the line work or destroying biodiversity when blowing the caps off of mountains to reach the coal within.
A possible replacement for both oil and coal is hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, which involves millions of gallons of water, un-specified chemicals, and sand, to puncture or fracture the shale rock formations deep below Earth’s surface to release natural gas so it can be collected. (McFeely, 2014) Natural Gas provides electricity to a quarter of the population and has heated more than 60 million homes across the United States. It is more expensive than coal and dirtier than nuclear energy and renewables.
What is disturbing is just as farmers have little incentive to conserve water due to price cuts and government incentives, the “Halliburton Loophole” prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from requesting chemical composition from companies like Halliburton. This loophole prevents the EPA and the public from ever knowing what is used during fracking, but the results speak for itself. Radioactive water, sequestering of farm animals that have been poisoned by tailings, flammable tap water, and visible eyesores, are all consequences of hydraulic fracturing. (Turk and Bensel, 2014)
Anthropocene is our reality and with the oil-peak approaching, some analysts suggest policymakers, governmental bureaucrats, and elected politicians, are “remaining silent, inactive, and even worse, deliberately ignoring that this issue even exists.” (Barrett, 2012) In contrast, President Obama seems to be taking an initiative towards ecosystem services while focusing on environmental issues before his departure. With the recent veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Obama considers natural gas a possible solution to America’s addiction and suggests that natural gas has “enormous potential”. (Turk and Bensel, 2014)
Barrett, B. (2012, June 6) Policymakers Slow to Take Peak Oil Action. United Nations University. Retrieved from http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/policy-makers-slow-to-take-peak-oil-action
Fitzgerald, J. (2012) The Messy Politics of Clean Coal: The Shaping of a Contested Term in Appalachia’s Energy Debate. Sage Journals. Retrieved from http://oae.sagepub.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/content/25/4/437.full.pdf+html
McFeeley, M. (2014). Falling through the Crack: Public Information and the Patchwork of Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Laws. Vermont Law Review, 38(4), 849-901. http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=31768c3c-72f4-4bd0-8c7a-ef2f5c793666%40sessionmgr110&vid=5&hid=109
Turk, J., Bensel, T. (2014). Contemporary environmental issues (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.