Getting a letter to the editor published in the New York Times is quite an achievement and Gordon Boyd did it today, June 11, in the Sunday edition no less.
I have known Gordon and his wife Sharon for over forty years beginning in the 1970’s when he ran the city’s first health food store on Caroline Street.
Gordon is currently a consultant for EnergyNext . He has an extensive civic history in Saratoga Springs. He ran for County Supervisor in the 70’s and unsuccessfully ran in a Democratic primary for Mayor against Valerie Keehn. He was also a leader of the county Independence Party at one point.
Gordon has also given generously of his time and money in a variety of social causes. He worked as a volunteer with prisoners at the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility before it closed. He also was instrumental in restoring an important historic organ at the prison.
He has been playing a key role in Bethesda Episcopal Church’s ambitious project to build a new parish house and community center.
Gordon’s energy and dedication to community is really extraordinary. While working on the Bethesda project and maintaining a full schedule as a consultant for EnergyNext, he has put in countless hours as a member of the Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission.
Here is his letter to the editor:
To the Editor:
When it comes to the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, not all of the roots of American unease stem from a denial of climate science. Some can be attributed to overreach by environmentalists.
The controversy over natural gas extraction from shale — hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — is an example. It was obvious to nearly everyone in the energy business more than a decade ago that natural gas could displace coal for both environmental and economic reasons, and it has done so, decisively.
But environmentalists and some governmental regulators who opposed fracking alienated local business leaders and landowners whose hopes were hanging on a resurgence of energy development in places like the Southern Tier of New York, Pennsylvania and the Appalachian states.
If opponents had embraced shale-sourced natural gas as a bridge to a carbon-free future, the economic and political base for agreements like Paris would have expanded. Instead, anti-fracking groups alienated the political-economic backbone of rural and small-town areas, and many residents climbed on the climate-denial bandwagon and voted for Donald Trump. The environmental community allowed the perfect to become the enemy of the good.
GORDON BOYD SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.
The writer is a consultant for EnergyNext.
While I congratulate Gordon on his many achievements including the publication of this letter, I have several problems with what he has written.
There is little doubt that the explosion of availability of natural gas resulting from fracking has had a devastating impact on the coal industry. Natural gas is unquestionably less environmentally destructive than coal. But less is a relative term. The failure of our country to aggressively embrace clean, renewable energy technologies as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases leads to an apocalyptic future. Subsitituting natural gas for coal only means perhaps a slight delay.
In addition there are the immediate problems of earthquakes induced by fracking (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-08/why-oklahoma-can-t-turn-off-its-earthquakes) along with the extensive pollution associated with a poorly policed industry.
Gordon’s contempt for the “environmentalists” is regrettable. He invokes the “perfect is the enemy of the good” saw. I would argue that those who present themselves as the “realists” in the case of climate change are the ones who are myopic. It seems every month climate scientists are being forced to reassess their projections in light of new data that shows their estimates are too conservative.
Finally, it simply begs credibility that opposition to fracking was instrumental in the election of Donald Trump and the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Treaty. If fracking had not existed as a controversial energy extraction technique the outcome of the presidential election would have been the same. There have been many theories offered as to why Donald Trump won but Gordon is the first person I know of to offer opposition to fracking as the Trump card.