Natural gas is on the rise, partly because it's cleaner than other fossil fuels. But do the climate benefits justify the costs of fracking?
Rawwwrrr! It's a progressive cat-fight! On the one side is New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of the Bronx. On the other side is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who thinks this would be a really crap idea, mostly because it would mean replacing fully a quarter of the power delivered to NYC with greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuel power plants. Also, it would probably lead to brownouts.
Robert Bryce, who has made a career out of saying things that are popular with the petroleum industry, is a lying liar who lies, most recently in the pages of The New York Times. In a recent op-ed piece he claimed, basically, that natural gas is greener than renewables because he says so.
While we were all distracted by the possibility that New York State will allow fracking for natural gas, two big milestones in the battle to restrict the notoriously environmentally destructive process arrived on successive days: New Jersey bans fracking On June 29, New Jersey became the first state in the Union whose legislature passed a ban on fracking.
A group of energy companies -- like, say, the natural gas industry -- would never, ever mislead the public and politicians about how profitable it could be over the long-term. Obviously, we should just believe the natural gas industry's financial projections, which promise that any negative environmental impacts will be worth the jobs, the profits, and the energy security that come with the promised national gas boom. That's basically been the stance of most legislators in Washington when it comes to natural gas. The picture the industry painted of huge supplies of low-carbon fuel proved really compelling. But now a few lawmakers are starting to worry that the government hasn't really looked into the reality of the situation. And they're asking agencies like the Security and Exchange Commission, the Energy Information Administration, and the Government Accountability Office to check up on the industry's claims about profitability and supply.
Texas is experiencing the driest eight-month period in its recorded history. But in 2010, natural gas companies used 13.5 billion gallons of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, and that could more than double by 2020. Where's all this water coming from? Oh, it was just lying around, in these aquifers! You guys weren't using it to drink or irrigate or anything, right? Guys?
Citizens blocked a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on tribal land in Maine, but the battle isn't over yet.
The New York Times has been running a series on natural gas. Here's David Roberts' take on the controversy behind natural gas fracking.
The New York Times obtained government documents that call natural gas companies' enthusiasm about shale gas and hydrofracking "irrational exuberance.” That exuberance has convinced some lawmakers, though. Nine of them are writing to President Obama to ask him to push for more gas drilling. In other technology-that’s-not-actually-going-to-save-us news, China's building a $1.5 billion clean coal plant, the first commercial clean coal plant of this size.