Is Fracking a ‘Bridge’ to a Clean-Energy Future? Ernest Moniz Thinks So.
by Brad Plumer (The Washington Post) When it comes to energy, Ernest Moniz seems to be an “all of the above” guy. President Obama’s new nominee for the Energy Department has heaped praise on everything from solar panels and efficiency to nuclear power and shale-gas fracking.
…Some climate hawks have looked skeptically on this whole notion. They’ll point out that natural gas is still a fossil fuel, capable of quickly heating the planet. What’s more, cheap shale gas could thwart the development of solar and wind. And plus, our natural-gas infrastructure still leaks an unknown amount of heat-trapping methane, which means that the climate benefits of natural gas may well be oversold.
…Meanwhile, some climate groups have argued that even 2°C is too dangerous and that we should try to stabilize at 350 ppm, which would mean taking carbon out of the atmosphere (the world is currently hovering around 393 ppm). In this scenario, we’d basically need to stop using all fossil fuels immediately. No room for natural gas.
So those are the basic scenarios. Natural gas only makes sense as a bridge if we’re willing to chance a hefty dose of global warming — with all the risks that come with it, from sea-level rise to droughts to withering food production. By contrast, if we want to avoid a 2°C rise in temperatures, much of that natural gas will likely need to stay in the ground.
That’s why Levi concludes that natural gas is better thought of as a “hedging tool” than a bridge. In the event that the world’s policymakers won’t do anything about climate change, then natural gas is at least less damaging climate-wise than coal. But that’s about it. READ MORE