This post was written by CPR Member Scholars Joseph P. Tomain & Uma Outka.
With advancements in hydraulic fracturing technology, shale gas has dramatically altered domestic energy in the United States. Some commentators claim that shale gas can address all of our major energy problems. Some consider natural gas a bridge fuel to a clean energy future. Bills in Congress proposing a federal “Clean Energy Standard” have included natural gas as a qualifying “clean” fuel source. President Obama’s recent State of the Union address emphasized natural gas and renewable energy as important to reshaping American energy use.
Given the projected impacts of climate change, we have reached a point when the air and water impacts of natural gas development call on policymakers to sort through some key questions with care: How will current and future energy policy position natural gas, explicitly or by default, relative to fossil energy alternatives like renewable energy? What role should natural gas play in the U.S. energy landscape in the coming decades? If it is a bridge fuel, where is it leading? Are we poised to over-rely on natural gas, at the expense of rapid renewable energy development?
It is hard to overstate …