The policy and environmental blogosphere is deep into a discussion of an International Energy Agency report weighing the benefits and drawbacks of expanded natural gas production.
On the plus side, natural gas is abundant, inexpensive and less carbon-intensive than coal. At the same time, the process of extracting gas from shale, known as fracking, is fraught with danger. Industry groups refuse to release the contents of fracking fluid, even though a "we could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you basis" response would be persuasive, considering the likely toxicity of fracking chemicals.
But even as environmentalists whine about fracking-induced earthquakes and methane seeps, they're neglecting one key issue that could turn public opinion on this matter…
The brewmeister of Brooklyn Brewery says toxic fracking chemicals like methanol, benzene, and ethylene glycol (found in anti-freeze) could contaminate his beer by leaking into New York's water supply. Unlike neighboring Pennsylvania, New York state has promised to ban high-volume fracking from the city's watershed. But environmentalists say the draft fracking regulations are weak and leave the largest unfiltered water supply in the United States — not to mention the beer that is made from it — vulnerable.
Perhaps not coincidentally (but probably totally coincidentally), the state with the highest number of breweries per capita, Vermont, recently enacted the first statewide ban on fracking. Unfortunately, banning fracking in Vermont is like banning jungle deforestation in Alaska or deep sea fishing in Kansas. Still, it's nice that someone is trying to not frack with our beer.
Photo by Irish Government – Pool /Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Alcohol, Energy & Oil, Environment, Vermont