Natural Gas might burn cleaner, but the extraction is just as dirty; if not more so. Read the Cornell Study.
There are so many things wrong with this industry that it's hard to write a concise response; but I will try.
The actual 'fracking' may or may not be the culprit---maybe it's the drilling process itself that releases toxins into the groundwater. The drilling process releases hundreds of elements--ranging from Radon to Barium and other radioactive material from underground where it has lay dormant for eons. The fluids themselves are poisonous--flaws in the cement casing around the drill holes can allow the fracking fluids to leach into the ground water. There is also no true 'guarantee' that the rock above the shale layer will hold the fluids (which are still under immense pressure) underground.
Then, let's talk about the 'Marcellus Shale Commission', who's responsibility it was to produce a report for the Corbett Administration on 'recommendations' for the industry. This 'neutral' body was made up of 13 members of the Oil and Gas industry (coincidentally these 13 companies provided 1.4 million dollars to Corbett's campaign, as well as being the companies with the most violations for Marcellus Drilling), several administration and/or staffers who were appointed directly (or indirectly) after Corbett was elected, some local government staff from affected areas, and four environmental or health groups, with only one (Chesapeake Bay Foundation) that you could truly call an Environmental group. No Public Health representation, btw..
While I would love to see a ban on Fracking (as has been done in other countries for various reasons), I'm sane enough to know the $$$ talks, everything else walks. We need safe practices, with sufficient oversight to ensure that accidents are minimal. We need trained emergency teams that can deal with well blowouts in hours; not waiting three days to get flown to Philly from Texas then driving 200+ miles at 45 miles an hour (because of their equipment) to deal with a well blowout of the type that occurred in April near Towanda. In short--we need a short term ban on new wells until the EPA report is done in 2013. In the meantime, we can educate and train the people in PA to do the work that is being transplanted in from out of state (and who don't pay state income taxes), so we can train our own emergency teams (and local responders) for well problems and accidents; and just so we can take a breather and figure out how best to protect the environment and be good stewards of the resources.
Not for Cable TV/Internet, at least in PA. The PUC has no authority over Comcast.
Until we have something close to that we're not going to have fairness or equity in the distribution of this essential utility.
I think you hit upon the crux of the matter with this very sentence. Internet access to the home is a utility just as water, sewer, electricity, natural gas and should be subject to the same regulatory agencies they are. But, they are not. There was a time (before the breakup of AT&T) that the 'Baby Bells' were also subject to the regulatory authorities and could not raise prices.
I don't disagree with Free Markets----but there is still a need for regulation.
Solar is propped up far less than the dirty fossil fuel industry. Oil and Natural Gas alone are set to reap more than $1.25 Billion from Texas alone this year in subsides and tax breaks. At the Federal level, they've reaped more than $50 Billion since 2002. In order to level the proverbial playing field, the subsidies to Solar and other alternative energy forms are necessary. But the Oil and Gas companies are reaping billions of dollars in profits and paying less tax than the average wage earner in terms of a percentage of income.
Without subsides, our $4 gallon gas would be more like what they pay in Europe--nearly double that and would cripple or kill the auto industry. Of course it may well spur development of better and more efficient (and more profitable) forms of Public Transportation, but most of that would take a decade or more to put in place. This, too, would kill our fragile economy. Had this all been done during the Clinton Administration, when we were seeing 5% Annual Growth, then removing the subsidies for Oil and Gas would
China still ranked near the top for committing Human Rights violations; and even though 'personal wealth' is increasing; the wages are still no where near what they should be for 'average' blue collar Chinese workers. Plus, the mine workers are mostly slaves---because they are mostly political prisoners; forced to endure working conditions that cause even early coal mining days in the US to pale by comparison. Oh yeah, China is a WONDERFUL country.
In the long term, even 3,500 books are more sustainable---and the inks these days are mostly soy-based; so the toxicity is reduced dramatically.
Sure, 1 kindle can hold 3,500 books---but how many people will upgrade that kindle every time the wind blows? so, we're not talking , we're talking one every 2-3 years, just like Cell/Smart Phones, laptops etc. And the batteries--they're highly toxic; from manufacturing, to use (how often do you have to plug in to recharge) to disposal.
And it is not just e-readers, but *all* of the electronic devices in use, the constant replacement cycle (btw--you are aware that one of the biggest rare-earth metals used---tanatalum--is dwindling in supply) and all of the related activity is causing serious and dramatic increases in the use of fossil fuels thereby driving up the amount of poisons in our air, water, and land. Plus, disposing of these things is typically (by AVERAGE users) a toss in the garbage----so they go in the landfill.
Long Term sustainability means humans need to start ditching these items of 'convenience' and go back to the basics for the most part. I read most of the books for pleasure from the Library. If they don't have it, I scour used bookstores first, then a new Bookstore last. This is a sustainable practice.
This is sad indeed for those of us who don't need to buy every electronic gadget that hits the market. Those of us who we spend 8-12 hours every day on our computers for work and to relax, we want to turn pages and actually READ a book. The joy is in the experience---not just in the reading of the printed word. But, the e-book generation doesn't understand that.
However, it's my generation's fault. We've raised you to do more, multitask (though scientists say there is no such thing), have instant lunch and instant oatmeal; fast food, etc. You hire a landscaper to put in plants for you, instead of digging in the dirt yourself. You don't hunt, fish, camp or canoe but you will take that $100,000 boat (that you can't fix) out and go tubing. You can't fix your own car---hell, most of you can't even change a tire. I've stopped along the highway and helped plenty of you (male and female) under thirty change a tire. You were going to call a tow truck..wasteful
In short--we've raised you to depend on everyone else...so no wonder you don't want to turn your own pages in a book.
and this is exactly why I stopped reading/collecting comics long ago. Asimov didn't reboot his universe, he tied it all together rather brilliantly. Heinlein..well, he used a deus ex machina to tie his stories together with all the other pulp universes in existence; not as brilliant, but a good yarn nonetheless.
But," we've got sagging sales what do we do?" " I know....let's 'Reboot the Universe'".. bah..
move along, nothing to see here..
The solution of this problem is trivial and is left as an exercise for the reader.