The Daily Gamecock

Green investments key to sustainable future

Rather than settling for quick fixes, government must find long-term answer

 

In his inspiring, youth-oriented and ambitious presidential campaign of 2008, President Obama made a wide assortment of promises, ranging from the elimination of all oil and gas loopholes in our federal laws to the requirement of renewable energy usage for 25 percent of our nation’s electricity demands. 

Due to the increased importance of “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing technology, and its role in the boom of domestic natural gas and oil extraction during the years since 2008, Obama has sharply turned down his rhetoric against fossil fuel corporations and has ridden the wave of growing job data numbers coming out of shale gas in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania — areas especially important to him in election season. Along the way, Obama has allowed anomalies such as the Solyndra scandal to steer his priorities off course. 

The Keystone XL pipeline is facing almost certain approval and the administration is now using gas-derived “energy independence” as a talking point at the expense of the promotion of green energy initiatives. While the easy job creation and the rebirth of declining economic areas certainly seem nice, the underlying issues of global warming and a scarcity of fossil fuel supply in the long run mean that increased gas extraction is just a quick fix to an increasingly pertinent problem. 

The current trend in global atmospheric carbon points to an increasingly catastrophic climate scenario. Fracking operations have been accused of releasing radioactive materials into groundwater and leaving soil contaminated. As someone born and raised in Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio region, I almost feel traitorous saying that the shale gas technology forming the foundation of the expansion in manufacturing employment and investment regionwide should be banned or restricted. Nevertheless, I would rather have a solar roof than a poisoned water supply; I don’t mind windmills in the Great Lakes but protest another burning river of unrestricted prosperity. I recognize the benefits of switching from coal to natural gas-powered power plant operations. While a reduction in carbon emissions to 1992 levels is commendable, it is not enough to compensate for the incredible harm inflicted upon the environment through the mass industrialization of the developing world. 

The United States has the perfect opportunity to be the global leader in environmental engineering and support a job-creating sector that pays strong societal dividends. Our federal government should continue to invest in green start-up firms and conservation technologies and tax the profits of polluting ventures (or at least remove subsidies). It is now President Obama’s second term and the fear of key-region voter eschewal is insignificant — we need to think back on the promises our country voted for, and petition for a stable future of growth in sustainable enterprise.

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