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Plugged In

More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives

Enough with the fear-mongering, fracking edition


Okay, environmental movement, Time Out. Your latest anti-fracking video, shared in an Upworthy post titled “In Case You Missed It, A Seriously Scary Thing Is Scheduled To Happen To New York City This November” is scaring and confusing people and it’s hurting your mission.

The video has been making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve seen posts from friends in New York City who can’t believe something like this could happen. I mean, “an explosion… in the West Village?” because of not just any natural gas, but fracked gas that is “laced with radon” and prone to explode AT ANY MINUTE.

But natural gas from a hydraulic fracturing process doesn't equal exploding pipelines, and this one is hardly the first one in the New York metropolitan area. According to the U.S. EIA (link), there are several natural gas pipelines running beneath the streets. Here are a few:

"The Algonquin Gas Transmission Company system (1,100 miles) has the capability to move 1.5 Bcf per day of its 3.3 Bcf per day system capacity from New Jersey into the New York metropolitan area."

And: "In late 2008, the long-delayed 0.5 Bcf per day Millennium Pipeline was finally completed. This 182-mile natural gas pipeline system begins at an interconnect with the Empire Pipeline system in southwest central New York State and terminates in the New York City metropolitan area. It is part of an overall regional effort involving expansion of the existing Empire, Algonquin and Iroquois Pipelines, which will be among its major supply sources."

And another: "The Iroquois Gas Transmission Company system, completed in 1991, draws just over one Bcf per day off the TransCanada Pipeline Ltd system in Ontario, Canada, a large portion of which is delivered to the New York City metropolitan area."

And here is a handy map that shows the northeastern United States natural gas pipeline network:

The northeastern natural gas pipeline network. Credit: U.S. EIA

You get the point.

The “seriously scary thing” is scaring people in to thinking their favorite coffee shop is going to go up in flames the next time they boil a pot of ramen through misinformation and fear campaigns.

Edited for clarity - David.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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