February 21, 2013

It is true that America needs sustainable, clean, homegrown energy sources, but natural gas is not the answer [“The natural-gas boom,” editorial, Feb. 15]. Our elected leaders are being shortsighted in adopting a fossil fuel that will prove obsolete in just a couple of decades, when instead we should develop our green-energy infrastructure to facilitate the deployment of wind and solar power.

Transitioning to a natural-gas infrastructure could cost as much $2 trillion to $3 trillion for an unknown quantity of gas, and that’s assuming the industry is granted unfettered access to drill offshore and on U.S. land. The United States needs to focus on its long-term energy goals, not the quick fix provided by natural gas.

Also troubling is that, as natural gas is extracted through “fracking,” significant amounts of methane leak into the atmosphere; more leaks as the gas is transported. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, about 33 times more efficient at trapping heat than is carbon dioxide over 100 years, and about 70 to 100 times more potent than is carbon dioxide over 20 years.

Fracking will only perpetuate our nation’s addiction to dirty fossil fuels, while destroying our communities and the resources on which they thrive. The only responsible and fiscally sound solution is to keep this fossil fuel in the ground.

Mark Ruffalo, Callicoon, N.Y.

The writer is an actor and a member of the Americans Against Fracking advisory committee.