Fossil Gas, PR, and You

Check out this great article, PG&E Wants More Fossil Fuel, in today’s East Bay Express, which begins

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has attempted to recast itself in recent years as a green-friendly utility. It has backed climate change legislation and has run extensive marketing campaigns, highlighting its investments in renewable energy. Two months ago, the utility made headlines when it publicly withdrew from the US Chamber of Commerce over the chamber’s backward views on global warming. But PG&E’s attempt to build two new fossil-fuel-powered plants in the East Bay that critics say are unnecessary is raising questions over whether the utility’s eco-friendly image is more hype than reality.

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Fossil Gas: What we’d call natural gas if we were serious

I strongly encourage you to take an hour or two out of your day today and read the amazing series of articles available on the Pro Publica website called Buried Secrets:  Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat.

I can’t tell you how many people have insisted to me that fossil gas is an excellent “bridge fuel,”  meaning that it is better than coal for producing electricity, and then go on to construct a whole energy future built around “clean natural gas.”  Indeed, the natural gas folks think that natural gas is terrific, too!  At least more terrific than their competitors:

The use of fossil fuels for energy contributes to a number of environmental problems. As the cleanest of the fossil fuels, natural gas can be used in many ways to help reduce the emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. Burning natural gas in the place of other fossil fuels emits fewer harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, and an increased reliance on natural gas can potentially reduce the emission of many of these most harmful pollutants.

Well, I guess that’s true enough for as far as it goes.  But as Stan Cox put it:

Natural gas is “clean” only in contrast to coal — just as a bacon cheeseburger can only be regarded as healthful compared with a double bacon cheeseburger.

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Why Clean Air Matters

Air Pollution Exposure is Associated with Premature Death

Attaining the California PM and ozone standards would annually prevent about 8,800 premature deaths, or 3.7% of all deaths. These premature deaths shorten lives by an average of 14 years. This is greater than the same number of deaths (4,200 – 7,400) linked to second-hand smoke in the year 2000. In comparison, motor vehicle crashes caused 3,200 deaths and homicides were responsible for 2,000 deaths

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