Carbon tax addresses fracking concerns

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Re: “I want an explanation from Cochrane’s MLA” in the Eagle November 23rd.

In Mr. Lee’s letter, he suggests that a carbon tax on natural gas is “unfair”. It seems that Mr. Lee considers this to be unfair, largely because natural gas is “one of the cleanest burning fuels”.

I agree that a carbon tax on our consumption of fossil fuels is not the entire answer to our environmental woes. However, It has been shown that a carbon tax can reduce our consumption of these fuels.

It is true that natural gas is a relatively clean burning fuel; however, this is not the whole story. Between 80 and 90 per cent of the gas extracted in Alberta is extracted by the process of multi-stage, high pressure hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). This process has been banned in several countries and multiple states, provinces and municipalities worldwide. Why? Because of “extreme risks to public health at all stages of operations” – Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York State; and, to paraphrase officials of the State of Victoria in Australia, “To protect public health and the reputation of our agriculture industry.”

Evidence of the harms of fracking is overwhelming and undeniable. In addition to local effects on our air, water and soil, fracking, along with the leaks, venting and flaring associated, emits huge amounts of methane into our atmosphere. Methane is many times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Researchers writing The Canada Brief of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change warn: “Canada’s push to phase out coal-powered electricity shouldn’t come with a phase-in of natural gas to replace coal plants.” The report states: “One public health hazard should not be exchanged for another.” ( http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/11/03/news/how-resolve-planets-biggest-health-threat ).

Fracked gas is not an answer, and certainly should not be exempted from any carbon tax. Its costs to Albertans are huge. We need to drastically change our approach to energy production and pursue renewable sources with the determination required to ensure a healthy future for all.

Nielle Hawkwood

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