Today, December 17, 2014, is a day that will live in infamy. The court of misguided and misinformed public opinion has deemed hydraulic fracturing ILLEGAL in the state of New York. Andrew Cuomo’s administration will now move to ban “fracking” after reports cited health concerns and a lack of economic benefit for the state. As much as I love this great country we have built, the trouble of maintaining a free society is managing the misinformed opinions of those who have built an entire bubble of comfortable ignorance around certain topics. The interesting thing is that Cuomo seemed apprehensive about the decision, as if he had a deep-down feeling that his decision wasn’t right. He left the decisions to the “experts” instead of doing his own research and actively managing the debate. In the end, he claimed: “I am not a scientist,” then proceeded to make a crippling decision based on that insightful tidbit of information that he was not informed to make said decision.
Seriously, I thought we took care of the anti-frackers a long time ago… I’ve seen every argument around fracking and I can answer them ALL with ease. I swear. And you’re lucky I’m going to share this information with you because I find it extremely useful for survival scenarios when faced with that one guy wearing the Che Guevara shirt who likes to protest for a living. Follow these steps and you shall defeat your opponent:
1) START OFF DISCUSSING THE ECONOMICS: Natural gas is one of the cheapest ways we have of providing low-CO2, base load energy for the power grid. In fact, while technologies such as solar + battery storage may be able to fill that role, the combined-cycle natural gas power plant has economic scale and efficiency that is unmatched by nearly every competitor. It even has the advantage of being cost-competitive with coal power. …at which point, your opponent will argue that “Germany is now using X percent of its electricity from renewables and Sweden derives a large chunk of its’ electricity from biomass energy.” At this point, you will now respond with step 2 concerning the fabled European prototypes:
2) DEBUNK THE MYTH OF THE FABLED EUROPEAN MODELS: Although Germany has done an impressive job of funding solar and wind energy (the German government, that is), anti-frackers somehow neglect the fact that Germany now has greater CO2 emissions than before the renewable movement because they needed coal power to balance the sporadic and expensive electrical grid. Essentially, they were lacking base load electricity that could be turned on and off when necessary. As for Sweden, they actually provide a majority of their base load power from hydroelectric and nuclear power, which are fantastic sources of electricity. Appallingly, however, Sweden botched the reports on purpose claiming their “biomass” provided significant power. In reality, they were combining peat, a dirty hydrocarbon, with biomass and unlawfully labeling it as biomass energy. Biomass energy itself has often been turned down by environmentalists because they cite excessive pollution. Your opponent will then quickly move on from the economics and science of energy because they were not his specialty anyway. He will move on to the health and environmental concerns, to which you will respond as so:
3) DEBUNK THE HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS: your opponent will be a bit more difficult to manage concerning the issue of health and environmental risks. There will always be some speculative case where “so-and-so’s grandmother in Pennsylvania noticed flaring water when she turned on the tap.” Let’s start with the basics: proper regulation and inspection of the fracking industry is crucial. I even discussed fracking with a third-party inspector at Intertek, a chemical testing company that is required to comply with random government sampling at any time. I grilled him pretty hard by playing devil’s advocate and he was extremely confident in the safety of fracking. But lucky for you, you don’t need to find an expert. There are numerous academic and field studies that have shown fracking to be very safe when proper precautions are taken. They even identified the fact that methane release and aquifer contamination was unrelated to fracking itself. That study was conducted on 130 randomly-sampled wells and was run by Duke University: http://www.pnas.org/content/111/39/14076.abstract . The consensus found that leaky well heads were the result of minor issues that could occur. Fortunately that problem is extremely easy to fix. Let’s not forget that the drill casing itself is composed of 7 layers of concrete and steel. Problems from this would be virtually impossible.
If you remember these steps and their evidence, you will succeed in defeating your opponent. You will know the argument is finished when he either stops the conversation or diverts the subject towards the faults of capitalism as a whole. You have won. Please take that information and be sure to make it useful by becoming a voice of reason in politics or working for a fracking company that needs people like you to help the industry, save our economy, and the environment.