Guest Commentary: Going green can't include natural gas

Associated PressClimate change activists holding signs join in on a rally supporting the ‘Green New Deal’ in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 24.

Does the Green New Deal leave an oily taste in your mouth? Every single Democrat in the House of Representatives, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and our own Antonio Delgado — who told us in Cooperstown that he opposed gas infrastructure build-out — voted “YES” on bill HR1616. Trump’s “Freedom Gas” bill promotes fracking, pipelines and liquid natural gas (LNG) export terminals in the USA and funds LNG import terminals abroad. Apparently, climate catastrophe is a small price to pay to foil Putin’s plans to sell gas to Germany.

If you sniff, you’ll notice that Gov. Cuomo’s Green New Deal is also accompanied by a distinctly gassy odor.

The governor’s Climate Leadership Act has bold goals — 100% carbon-free electricity from load-serving entities meeting state demand by 2040. In New York, we have a moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing because our departments of Health and Environmental Conservation determined that fracking was hazardous to human and environmental health.

Still, the governor keeps handing out permits to big gas power plants like Cricket Valley and Competitive Power Ventures. These power plants require New York to import more gas each year than the year before. Cricket Valley and CPV together will require drilling a thousand wells in Pennsylvania where, presumably, fracking is just as toxic as it is in New York. These two power plants alone will add 25% to state power sector emissions for the next 30-plus years. Governor, you can’t flip a switch to make power plants run backwards to pull carbon out of the air. And you can’t claim that a wind farm in New Mexico somehow cuts New York greenhouse gas emissions.

Andrew, Alexandria: Clean out your ears because it’s not complicated: Fracking, gas power plants and pipelines are exactly the climate-cooking culprits the GND is supposed to eliminate. Antonio: fracking, pipelines and power plants represent the infrastructure supported by your predecessor, John Faso. The message from scientists to lawmakers, and everyone else, is unambiguous: We must burn less gas tomorrow than we are burning today.

Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Certainly, everyone wants a simple answer and, sadly, this makes us susceptible to industry hype. Wouldn’t it be great if what has worked for a hundred years and is as easy to spell as “G-A-S” could bail us out?

Unfortunately, the ignorance, greed and laziness that got us to this desperate place will not provide a viable path forward. It is going to be more painful and it will cost more in the near term to save the planet than to cook it.

The general population isn’t making the right choices, either. The U.N. biodiversity report of early May indicates that a million species will be lost in the next couple of decades if we can’t cut carbon dioxide* emissions. We hope orangutans and polar bears survive, but apparently not so much that we’d forgo a cruise-ship vacation or even say “No, thank you,” to a Coke and a plastic straw.

Perhaps a message aimed at wallets and personal lives will hit home? Moving to a sustainable energy system will provide good jobs, undo environmental injustice perpetrated on minority communities and help us clean up the planet, too.

On the other hand, the catastrophic disruption that will come with super-storms and droughts, crop failures and refugees, will wreak havoc on your business, whether you sell cars, houses or insurance. Indeed, climate chaos will cast a pall over parades and holiday dinners. That retirement party, that daughter’s wedding, won’t be celebrations so much as funerals for lost happiness. Unless we end our addiction to fossil fuels, our children and their children will be condemned to lives desperate beyond our imagining.

You can plant a tree or go meatless for a year, but that will not fix what’s wrong. We can’t solve the climate-change conundrum until we vote out the bums who are intent on our not solving it — many of whom we have foolishly put in charge of our local, state and national governments. We need to vote in people as determined to save the world for their children as we are to save it for ours.

 Dennis Higgins is a resident of Otego.

*Corrected at 2:39 p.m. June 30 to correct the type of emissions.

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