What you need to know about the clinton-sanders divide on fracking – the washington post electricity song youtube


Update, 3/10/2016: In their debate Wednesday night in Miami, the difference between the two candidates on fracking was again in focus. Clinton argued there that “We need to implement all of the president’s executive actions and quickly move to make a bridge from coal to natural gas to clean energy.” In contrast, Sanders declared, “I hope you’ll join me in ending gas block dimple jig fracking in the United States of America.”

Fracking is currently responsible for one of the biggest transformations that we’ve seen in the energy space in some time. By unleashing vast reserves of so-called “unconventional” gas, for instance, it’s a key factor behind a run of starkly low natural gas prices, which recently touched just $ 1.61 per million BTUs, or British thermal units.

Clinton’s view was more nuanced, though some observers find the overall tone harder on fracking than she has been in the past. On Sunday, she said she doesn’t support fracking where it is causing environmental damage, is opposed by states themselves (such as in Clinton’s own New York), or where the chemicals used aren’t disclosed. But she came far short of opposing it outright, later adding, “I’ve already said we are taking away the subsidies for oil and gas, but it is important that people understand that a president can’t go ordering folks around. Our system doesn’t permit that.”

On her campaign website, Clinton says that “Domestically produced natural gas can play gas laws worksheet answers and work an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy,” striking a tone that seems very consistent with President Obama’s “all of the above” energy approach, and with the widely publicized notion that natural gas can serve as a “bridge fuel” enabling a shift to completely renewable energy, since it releases much less carbon dioxide than coal when burned.

“You have some folks in the U.S. who want to see an outright ban on fracking, and then you have other people who want to see more substantial regulation of the practice, and I would say that as between the two of them, that represents the majority of Americans on the topic,” says Mark Brownstein gas lighting, who heads the Environmental Defense Fund’s work on natural gas and methane emissions from the sector.

A draft assessment on the topic, completed by the EPA last year, failed to find “widespread, systemic electricity rates el paso impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” Rather, it found that while there were some water contamination problems, “the number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.”

Some environmental groups have heavily critiqued this report. The passage above also triggered criticism from the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. In its latest review draft of the EPA’s report, the board singled out this much-cited passage and said that it requires “clarification and additional explanation,” and that the EPA should “discuss the significant data limitations and uncertainties” in relation to this and other major findings.

“Because of the methane issue, and because it’s really the only way to slow climatic warming on the timescale of the next few decades, I think shale gas is probably worse overall than coal,” said Robert Howarth, a researcher at Cornell University who published one of the first estimates of fugitive methane emissions believed to be coming from on q gas station okc shale gas drilling.

Methane versus carbon dioxide. Without denying the significance or the scale of this problem, it must also be said that methane is not the same as the most worrisome greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Indeed, the two gases are so different that, despite many pat statements suggesting that methane is “more powerful,” the truth is that they are extremely difficult and complex to even compare.

Namely, fracking, by enabling the unconventional natural gas revolution in the U.S., has greatly increased gas zone pricing overall natural gas supply and, therefore, driven down cost. “Affordable and abundant natural gas has ushered in an era of substantially lower prices than they otherwise would have been without the unconventional revolution,” noted a 2014 report by IHS.

Cheap natural gas, in turn, is displacing carbon-intensive coal in the electricity sector. While the burning of coal provided 39 percent of U.S. electricity in 2014, that dropped to 34 percent in 2015 — and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined accordingly, according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And so far in 2016, prices have plunged even lower than they did in 2015.

Just how good this news is, though, depends on a consideration of all the long term consequences of cheap gas – not all of which are immediately clear to us. “An energy policy that takes coal offline, especially old coal plants, is a winning energy policy,” said Stanford’s Rob Jackson. “What we don’t know is how much natural gas will displace renewables, compared to complement renewables. That’s what we need to know.”

In sum gas quality comparison, the environmental issues around fracking remain real, yet also contested and complex. This is not an easy or simple issue and it is not one where you can really give a black and white answer. And maybe that’s not so surprising, in that this is a relatively new phenomenon that is sweeping the U.S. energy electric utility companies charge customers for arena, in many cases faster than science can keep up with it.

In light of all this, the difference between Clinton and Sanders is one that voters should definitely be aware of. Clinton is more of a pragmatist who is closer to President Obama, whose “all of the above” energy policy is just as critiqued by some environmentalists as his climate change actions are praised. Sanders wants a much faster transition to renewable energy, rather than using a “bridge fuel” like natural gas (or, for that matter, nuclear power) in the interim.