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Cary Brunswick

December 31, 2011

Unrest, energy, economy were big news in 2011

(Continued)

Not all editors are from areas involved in natural gas drilling and the controversial extraction method, hydraulic fracturing. But in the Northeast, Southwest and eastern Rockies, it is a major energy story.

In late June, the state Department of Environmental Conservation released its revised draft regulations for fracking, but the revisions did nothing to ease the concerns about the process that pumps millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals deep underground at high pressure to fracture the shale and release natural gas.

In July, I wrote that the proposed regulations make the risks of pollution involved in hydraulic fracturing even more disconcerting.

"A review of the DEC's proposals tells me that the agency realizes how risky and potentially disastrous fracking is," I wrote, adding that "because the DEC is proposing to allow fracking in 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale, it's clear it all comes down to the same old argument between what's best for the economy and jobs and what's best for preserving the relatively clean upstate environment."

In October, I noted how important the Nov. 8 election was for the opportunity to put candidates opposed to fracking on local governing boards, especially from the point of view of supporting home rule, or the right of a town to ban the procedure. More than 30 anti-fracking candidates ran for office in Otsego County alone.

Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown were horrendous disasters, and were significant also for U.S. energy policy as they illustrate the potential pitfalls of nuclear energy. The story deserves the No. 3 spot on AP's list.

"While nuclear power is clean and efficient," I wrote in April, "the process of boiling water with the controlled heating of nuclear fuel rods is risky for a variety of reasons, not just earthquakes and tsunamis. The U.S. should use the Fukushima crisis as a spur to more vigorously pursue other fossil-fuel alternatives, such as solar and wind. The president should recognize this and change his position on nuclear power."

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