Fracking gets a lot of attention around here, and rightfully so. Folks have every reason to educate themselves on whether horizontal fracturing for natural gas might be good for the local economy and whether it might have a deleterious effect on the area’s environment.
At the core of each argument is how it might affect those of us who make our living here but also breathe the air and drink the water.
The phrase NIMBY — Not In My Backyard — is often employed to describe those who might be in favor of something … as long as it is produced somewhere else. For instance, about 40 percent of America’s electricity is generated by coal, and that is all right with a lot of people as long as it’s mined in West Virginia instead of around here.
Along the same lines, we’d like to think that those opposing the now-halted wind farm project proposed for the town of Richfield would be just fine with energy that comes from wind power … as long as it came from somewhere else.
We bring this up now because of the upcoming release of a study from the American Wind Energy Association reported on in the Huffington Post. Even in its embryonic stages, wind power has led to a 4.4 percent cut to power sector emissions, according to the study.
The association states that power generated by wind avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, the equivalent of taking 16.9 million cars off the road.
“Every time a megawatt of wind power is generated, something else is not generated,” Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s vice president for industry data and analysis, was quoted in the Huffington article.
What’s more, the AWEA says that wind energy helped cut U.S. water consumption by 36.5 billion gallons. Coal, nuclear and some natural gas-fired thermal power plants generate power by using the fuel sources to boil the water that makes steam to run the turbines that generate electricity. These plants also need water for cooling, unlike wind turbines.