CA Sierra Club rips energy source that’s cut emissions: natural gas

July 8, 2013

By Chris Reed

sierra-club1A visit to the California Sierra Club’s priorities page illustrates one of the funniest and most ironic public-policy developments of our time. The club’s top three priorities are getting California “Beyond Coal,” “Beyond Oil” and “Beyond Natural Gas.” All fossil fuels are evil, you see.

But it is the gigantic boom in natural gas — not the subsidized, largely failed green energy revolution — that has helped the U.S. lead the world in reduction of the emissions believed to contribute to global warming. This reduction has come almost entirely because U.S. utilities have shifted from dirty coal to relatively clean natural gas, which is newly abundant because of hydraulic fracturing, which uses underground water cannons to free up energy supplies. The process has been around nearly 70 years but has become vastly more efficient in recent times because it has been enhanced by information technology that allows for much more precision in aiming of the water cannons. (This has also made the process much cleaner.)

Green think tank makes heretical case to green movement

Now an environmental group, the Breakthrough Institute, has broken through green dogma and put out a report making the case that it’s good to have abundant natural gas, even if it is an allegedly evil fossil fuel.

“The rapid replacement of coal by cheaper and cleaner natural gas has helped drive emissions down in the United States more than in any other country in the world in recent years. Cheap natural gas is crushing domestic demand for coal and is the main reason for the rapid decline in US carbon emissions. The gas revolution offers a way for the United States and other nations to replace coal burning while accelerating the transition to zero-carbon energy.

“In the United States, coal-powered electricity went from 50 to 37 percent of the generation mix between 2007 and 2012, with the bulk of it replaced by natural gas. Energy transitions typically take many decades to occur, and the evidence suggests that the natural gas revolution is still in its infancy. The successful combination of new drilling, hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), and underground mapping technologies to cheaply extract gas from shale and other unconventional rock formations has the potential to be as disruptive as past energy technology revolutions — and as beneficial to humans and our natural environment.

“This report reviews the evidence and finds that natural gas is a net environmental benefit at local, regional, national, and global levels. In recent years, the rapid expansion of natural gas production has provoked legitimate local concerns about noise, air, water, and methane pollution that should and can be addressed. But the evidence is strong that natural gas is a coal killer, brings improved air quality and reduced green- house gas emissions, and can aid rather obstruct the development and deployment of zero-carbon energies.”

Fact-based analysis, not hyperventilating scare tactics

That is what a reasonable environmentalist sounds like. In fact, that is what the Obama administration sounds like when it is talking about natural gas.

But then, of course, Pulitzer-winning environmental reporters don’t think the president’s views on fracking are relevant to what’s going on in California. Tom Knudson believes there are some facts the Sacramento Bee’s readers just can’t handle.



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  1. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 7 July, 2013, 12:27

    That is what a reasonable environmentalist sounds like

    Hardly. A reasonable environmentalist wouldn’t be pushing the fraud of “zero carbon energy”.

    Reply this comment
  2. The solution is demand not supply
    The solution is demand not supply 7 July, 2013, 20:50

    For many in the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, the solution is changing demand not supply. Americans need to change their behavior and abandon an artificial and empty lifestyle generated by the capitalist system.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 7 July, 2013, 22:27

    This is a beater subject…..beat by CWD over and over again… subject-

    Reply this comment
  4. Hondo
    Hondo 8 July, 2013, 08:32

    The sierra club supports unlimited illegal immigration to Kalifornia, but is against building one more house to house them.
    Go figure….

    Reply this comment
  5. bobaran
    bobaran 8 July, 2013, 11:21

    The city of Santa Cruz wants to enhance its inadequate water supply by constructing a water desalination facility. The Sierra Club is, of course, opposed.

    But the Sierra Club is also opposed to collecting any excess surface or ground water and is also against any storage of such water. Their solution is more conservation. The water shortage is so dire I expect the “Club” to recommend we drink our own urine.

    But as suggested by the idiot above, drinking water simply represents another “artificial and empty lifestyle generated by the capitalist system.”

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 8 July, 2013, 22:02

    Santa Cruz is pretty kinky….you may pick up a incurable rash in this dry spell….

    Reply this comment
  7. Dr. John Miller
    Dr. John Miller 15 July, 2013, 15:55

    It’s not at all clear that natural gas is relatively clean. If as much as 4% of it leaks out of pipelines, it’s just as polluting as coal. Nobody seems to know the leak rate yet. So please stop pushing natural gas as if you know it’s “relatively clean” when you don’t.

    Reply this comment

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