|The Susquehanna River at Old Mill Park, French Azilum, PA|
Photo: Carol Manuel
Today the Rocket-Courier, a weekly newspaper published in Wyalusing, PA, printed an article announcing Moxie Energy's plan to propose a gas-fired power plant to be built in Bradford County, PA, in Asylum Township. This troubling news is fraught with problems. I hope the Asylum Township Planning Commission, which will review the proposal, if and when it is formally presented, will have the foresight to recognize the inadvisability of such a plan. The facility would need a large parcel of land. One spot that has been considered is a 30-acre tract owned by Larry Fulmer located on Route 187. However, Tom Hughes, Chair of the Asylum Township Planning Commission, made it clear to me that nothing is decided about location at the present time. In fact, Moxie has not made any formal overtures yet. This is all speculation right now. Any action will take time, perhaps years, before a power plant would become a reality there.
Yet red flags are everywhere. This whole plan ignores the elephant in the room. Power plants need natural gas, and therein lies most of the problems. Extracting natural gas from deep in the earth's surface is a very dirty process. Water, air, and soil contamination are very common. The industry will tell you that the gas industry has a very safe record. They can claim a 95% safety record. However, a 5% failure is very significant when we consider how many wells there are now and how many more are coming soon. For every one thousand wells, we are talking about fifty wells where an accident, spill, or blowout will occur. Who will volunteer to live next door to these 50 wells?
The article also presents reasons why this gas-fired power plant is a great idea. By citing these benefits, it admits that there are problems with the industry, for example, using good water from the Susquehanna River. This plant would not require river water. A casual reading of that statement might look good to the local people who are concerned about the millions of gallons of water being taken out of the hydrolic cycle, never to be suitable for anything ever again. Of course, another ploy is to dangle money out there to hook people into thinking they might have a better life. During the building phase, this project is expected to have a payroll of $40 million and indirect income of $80 million. It would be completed in 2015 and then provide a steady tax base and provide a whopping 25-30 high-paying jobs.
Next the issue of noise and visual impacts are addressed, thereby admitting that these issues are problematic and that people do become concerned about them, especially because they live near these industrial areas. The promise is that efforts will be made to minimize these problems. Air pollution would be low compared to older plants, they claim.
This shift away from inefficient, dirty power is both a local benefit and a regional benefit in terms of air quality.The article does not remind readers that the air pollution caused by the extraction process all over the area will already have had major impacts on public health and the environment.
Next we have the problem of waste. All wastes will be managed on-site in accordance with state and federal regulations and will be shipped off-site for recycling or disposal. Well, on-site waste management is not always good. We know that sludge pits are sometimes just plowed under in the clean-up process, putting toxic chemicals into the ground, at least the stuff that didn't leak through tears and holes in the plastic liners. Admittedly, frack pits are not involved in these power plants, but the industry has a bad record in regard to waste disposal. How careful will it be this time? As for off-site disposal, will it go to New York?
Moxie Energy calls this natural gas energy "clean power." I don't think this lie is going to be so easily perpetrated on the public anymore. We are smartening up. When considering the entire cycle of getting this "magical" energy source from deep in the ground to our homes, we are not talking about a clean process at all.
Let us hope that the Asylum Township Planning Commission will not approve this proposal. Here is some basic information about Asylum Township government:
Today, Asylum Township is run by a board of Supervisors and has an active Planning Commission, which consists of 5 members. In 2003, the planning commission adopted a comprehensive plan. Although the Township currently has no zoning regulations, they do have a set of regulations for their own subdivisions and land development projects that was updated in the summer of 2008.
The Township boasts an historic landmark; the French Azilum Site is open to the public during the months of May through October and remains to be a popular tourist and educational site for locals and visitors alike. Aside from the Historic Site, there is a public Asylum Township park (Old Mill Park) that is open from dawn to dusk and has boat access to the Susquehanna River and picnic sites.
LINK to the article about the proposed gas-fired power plant as it appeared today in the Rocket-Courier.
Read about Professor Howarth's recent study concerning natural gas compared to coal, "Natural Gas From Fracking Could Be 'Dirtier' Than Coal"
Here is an article which appeared in the NYT April 11, 2011, entitled "Studies Say Natural Gas Has Its Own Environmental Problems."
Another article worth looking at: "Cornell Scientist Tarnishes Natural Gas's Clean Image"
Finally, read the letter submitted by Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea, entitled "Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint Of Natural Gas From Shale Formations"
|A gas-fired power plant|