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By Victoria Jordan
Bellvue, CO 80512
Letter to the Editor:
In Andrew Langer’s article, “Economic Prosperity or a Clean Environment? Why Not Both?” he claims that the “surge in natural gas production is helping, not harming, the environment.” He supports this flawed thinking with the correct fact that burning natural gas is less polluting than burning coal. However, there is no such thing as “clean fossil fuels.” Burning ANY fossil fuel is still contributing to CO2 production, and, the surge in natural gas production, therefore, is harming the environment, not helping it. Mr. Langer doesn’t mention the surge in methane releases documented all over the front range from natural gas and fracking operations. He doesn’t mention the pollution of the aquifers from fracking. He doesn’t mention any long-term consequences for burning fossil fuels.
Mr. Langer claims the oil and gas boom “has generated immense economic rewards” by supporting jobs and adding to the economy. What he fails to mention is that wind, solar, and geothermal companies are also supporting jobs and adding to the economy. In fact, the US Department of Energy has found that increased wind power development in the US alone could result in net savings for utility companies of $149 billion by 2050 as average fossil fuel prices go up and aging plants and other infrastructure have to be replaced. The most recent employment data available shows US wind generation put 106,000 Americans to work in 2017. And the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of wind turbine service technician jobs is expected to increase by 96 percent by 2026, making it the second fastest-growing job in America. With a median annual pay of $53,880 in 2017, that’s an awful lot of well-paying jobs on the horizon. It’s also definitely worth noting that many of America’s fastest-growing jobs are in clean energy. Colorado is home to more than 380 solar companies employing over 4,000 people throughout the state.
Energy produced by wind and solar don’t pollute the air with toxins or emit the dangerous greenhouse gases driving climate change. Power plants that rely on the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil, or natural gas to create electricity do both of those things in spades. Instead of investing time, energy, and resources into oil and gas production and consumption, humans need to be thinking 7 generations into the future, and put time, energy and resources into renewable energy sources.
In 2004, Colorado passed the first voter-led Renewable Energy Standard in the nation, requiring electricity providers to obtain a minimum percentage of their power from renewable energy sources. The legislature has increased the amount of renewable energy required three times since then, with between 20-30% of energy coming from renewables. Mr. Langer claims that because voters rejected a carbon tax in Washington, a fracking ban in Colorado, and a renewable energy requirement in Arizona, that this means voters want big oil to continue their plunder. Not so. Voters want innovation that will lead to clean energy solutions. For example, electric cooperatives throughout Colorado are leading the way in community solar and wind projects, lithium-ion battery storage facilities, and other modernizations. Mr. Langer’s political group, “The Institute for Liberty” would prefer little or no government regulation on any industry, despite its impact on the planet or society. However, without the voter-instituted requirement for utilities to move toward renewables in Colorado, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are today.
Mr. Langer claims that “Americans are enjoying an unprecedented oil and gas boom.” I am an American, and I am definitely NOT enjoying it. The oil and gas need to stay in the ground. At the very least, as a finite resource, the petroleum needs to be conserved for creating products such as plastics, wind turbines, and solar panels.