Recently I’ve been receiving some emails from concerned citizen Stephen W. who lives on top of some of the richest natural gas fields in Pennsylvania. Stephen is concerned about the environmental impact of drilling (contaminated drinking water) and thinks hydrogen may be the answer.
After seeing the movie trailers from the documentary Gasland about hydraulic fracturing used in the natural gas wells and the concern over one of the biggest targets of Marcellus Shale drilling being Northeastern Pennsylvania, Stephen decided to write me a series of emails outlining his concerns.
Here is an excerpt of those emails:
“I’m just writing you today to thank you for keeping the hydrogen economy cause going strong. Since the last time we spoke, two new glaring issues have surfaced that should make the push to put a hydrogen economy in place throughout this country and the world all the more compelling. One has been the recent massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and echoed by one similar in China, and the other is all the current controversy surrounding natural gas exploration, its downsides particularly accented by the not-so-long-ago documentary, Gasland …
“I think the general public now is in a state of mind that while I think they would like to see a switchover to a hydrogen economy, what good is this want on their part if our government’s not willing to support it? That said, I wonder how much the government officials in the Gulf States are aware of hydrogen’s potential? For they certainly have a motive to get behind it now if they didn’t before …
“As a regular everyday U.S. citizen, I discuss hydrogen’s potential with people I meet at every turn. But unfortunately, as I’ve pretty much learned the hard way, a regular everyday U.S. citizen’s voice these days can only carry so far. I compare the dilemma to that Joni Mitchell song, “For Free.” If credibility is to be had, people want to see hydrogen’s potential presented in a totally professional manner, that is, with an actual show of what’s being talked about to back up the pitch. Otherwise, it amounts to interesting conversation, but really none other than that. And this for a technology that from my understanding has pretty much been proven since Francois Rivaz patented the first internal combustion engine automobile in 1809. That is, how can we get that tortoise to run just a little bit faster?”
Stephen W. also writes to his local Senator, “I am writing to you today out of grave concern for the natural gas exploration that is being proposed for our state in the portions of it that are part of the Marcellus Shale Formation. This Associated Press article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer for Monday, August 16, 2010 – I find to be extremely disturbing. Particularly if the recent documentary Gasland, about the horrific downsides of hydraulic fracturing, is to be believed.”
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens wants to replace drilling for oil with drilling for natural gas but is this really the answer? Getting off our dependence of foreign fossil fuels is one step. But as the BP Oil Spill has taught us and perhaps the contaminated drinking water from hydraulic fracturing of native natural gas reserves, the answer is to get away from fossil fuels altogether.
Is hydrogen the answer? Most likely it is one of the answers including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and other alternative energy and alternative fuel options. We need to voraciously pursue the alternatives with government, alternative energy companies and a grassroots movement in order to make sure another fossil fuel disaster is averted in this country and that we have clean energy for the future. The future starts now, so let’s use our voices and keep pushing the hydrogen message forward among the largely uninformed public and government officials. As public support grows so will the pressure to do the right thing.