No Fracking Way: The Natural Gas Boom Is Doing More Harm Than Good

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Natural gas, touted for its environmental, economic, and national security benefits, is often thought of as the fuel that will “bridge” our transition from oil and coal to renewables. The ability to extract natural gas from shale formations through a method called hydraulic fracturing has unleashed vast, untapped sources—by some estimates, the U.S. now sits on a 100-year supply. But contamination from toxic chemicals used in the fracking process has been the source of increasing health and environmental concerns. Can natural gas be part of a clean energy solution, or is it a dangerous roadblock to a fossil-free future?

  • For The Motion

    For

    Deborah Goldberg

    Managing Attorney at Earthjustice

  • For The Motion

    For

    Katherine Hudson

    Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper

  • Against The Motion

    Against

    Joe Nocera

    Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

  • Against The Motion

    Against

    Sue Tierney

    Managing Principal at Analysis Group


    • Moderator Image

      MODERATOR

      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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For The Motion

For The Motion

Deborah Goldberg

Managing Attorney at Earthjustice

Deborah Goldberg is a Managing Attorney at Earthjustice, the world’s first and largest nonprofit environmental law firm, where she focuses on legal advocacy and litigation related to global warming and environmental health. Originally established as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Earthjustice provides legal representation—at no cost—to more than 1,000 clients, ranging from large national groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Audubon Society, to smaller community coalitions, such as Friends of the Everglades. Before joining Earthjustice, Goldberg was the Democracy Program Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

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For The Motion

For The Motion

Katherine Hudson

Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper

Katherine Hudson is the Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper, a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. It is led by President Paul Gallay and its Chief Prosecuting Attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Hudson joined Riverkeeper after nearly 25 years spent in government protecting the environment of New York State. Hudson has been Assistant Attorney General in the office’s Environmental Protection Bureau, and has served in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, working in all program areas, including air quality, water quality, solid and hazardous waste and mining.

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Against The Motion

Against The Motion

Joe Nocera

Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

Joe Nocera is an op-ed columnist. Before joining The Opinion Pages, he wrote the Talking Business column for The New York Times and was a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. He also serves as a regular business commentator for NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. Before joining The Times, Nocera spent 10 years at Fortune Magazine, where he held a variety of positions, including contributing writer, editor-at-large, executive editor and editorial director. His most recent book, co-written with Bethany McLean, is All The Devils: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, their bestselling account of the financial crisis.

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Against The Motion

Against The Motion

Sue Tierney

Managing Principal at Analysis Group; Former Assistant Secretary for Policy at U.S. Dept. of Energy

Susan Tierney is a Managing Principal at Analysis Group, where she specializes in the electric and gas industries. She has consulted to companies, governments, non-profits, and other organizations on energy markets, economic and environmental regulation and strategy, and energy facility projects. A former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy and state public utility commissioner, she is a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s energy project and the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board. She was appointed to the National Petroleum Council and serves as an ambassador for the U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment program, an initiative of the Department of Energy and MIT.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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    49 comments

    30|-
    • Comment Link Carol Crumlish Sunday, 01 July 2012 22:41 posted by Carol Crumlish

      I support the motion.

    • Comment Link Anders Nelson Sunday, 01 July 2012 22:30 posted by Anders Nelson

      The briefings under "for" and "against" on this page are reversed with respect to the other descriptions on the website. This is confusing, and I'm sure some people voted incorrectly. You should disregard any votes made on this page.

    • Comment Link Tomek Falkowski Sunday, 01 July 2012 22:27 posted by Tomek Falkowski

      Don't we also have huge supplies of renewable wind, ready now, with less risk, ie North Dakota: the Saudia Arabia of Wind. Wouldn't that reduce our dependence on foreign energy interests?

    • Comment Link Tomek Falkowski Sunday, 01 July 2012 22:20 posted by Tomek Falkowski

      Interesting, Ms. Tierney's green fracking fluid doesn't disclose its ingredients...

    • Comment Link Tomek Falkowski Sunday, 01 July 2012 22:11 posted by Tomek Falkowski

      Ms. Tierney wants us to think that there are governmental regulations in place to help support the development of renewables, but does she believe that the fact that current government subsidies favor nonrenewables will change with the further development of natural gas?

    • Comment Link John Campbell Sunday, 01 July 2012 22:05 posted by John Campbell

      We need to continue the development and control the risks.

    • Comment Link Tomek Falkowski Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:57 posted by Tomek Falkowski

      There are a couple of points I want to make:

      The issue at hand is whether the natural gas boom IS doing more harm than good; not that it will do more good if more regulations are put into place.

      Climate change is happening. Even with using natural gas, climate change will continue unabated. As the anti-fracking panel pointed out methane leakage negates the potential decrease in greenhouse gas emissions relative to coal. And, with the potential increased drilling for natural gas, investment in truly renewable energy sources, which would actually curtail greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, will decrease dramatically. How would we prevent that?

      If this is a boom economy, how do communities who allow fracking deal with the regularly observed economic bust cycle?

      As to the efficiency of natural gas: Jevons paradox dictates that increased efficiency tends to result in increased consumption of that resource. With this in mind, will it last 100 years? Won't that result in more, short term methane leakage and greenhouse gas emissions augment global climate change?

    • Comment Link Russ Cembrinski Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:57 posted by Russ Cembrinski

      Questions for the panel against the motion:

      Would you be willing to serve yourself and your family, at every dinner henceforth, a nice tall glass of the solution introduced into the wells and used to effect the nat-gas yield? If not, why not?

      There is a "haz-matt-like" business booming around the handling of the solutions being introduced and extracted from the "fracking" wells. With all that we know and don't know about contamination of the aquifer, how do can you scientifically ensure this process will be completely safe?

      Rhetorcially - Are we knowingly laying the ground work for the sequel to Erin Brockovich vs. Pacific Gas & Electric Company?

      I look forward to listening to the debate.

      Best,

      Russ C

    • Comment Link Tomek Falkowski Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:56 posted by Tomek Falkowski

      There are a couple of points I want to make:

      The issue at hand is whether the natural gas boom IS doing more harm than good; not that it will do more good if more regulations are put into place.

      Climate change is happening. Even with using natural gas, climate change will continue unabated. As the anti-fracking panel pointed out methane leakage negates the potential decrease in greenhouse gas emissions relative to coal. And, with the potential increased drilling for natural gas, investment in truly renewable energy sources, which would actually curtail greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, will decrease dramatically. How would we prevent that?

      If this is a boom economy, how do communities who allow fracking deal with the regularly observed economic bust cycle?

      As to the efficiency of natural gas: Jevons paradox dictates that increased efficiency tends to result in increased consumption of that resource. With this in mind, will it last 100 years? Won't that result in more, short term methane leakage and greenhouse gas emissions augment global climate change?

    • Comment Link Rick Maltese Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:56 posted by Rick Maltese

      The cast your vote page have the wrong paragraphs
      The paragraph under the blue is for fracking
      The paragraph under the red is against fracking
      but commentator says if you are for the motion you are against fracking

    • Comment Link Rick Maltese Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:44 posted by Rick Maltese

      You actually don't state the motion to make it clear what "for" or a "against" is responding to so that the voting is useless because half the people won't understand.

    • Comment Link Rick Maltese Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:40 posted by Rick Maltese

      You actually don't state the motion to make it clear what "for" or a "against" is responding to so that the voting is useless because half the people won't understand.

    • Comment Link Sharon Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:18 posted by Sharon

      The "For" and "Against" descriptions are backwards in the online voting section.

    • Comment Link Mark Duffett Sunday, 01 July 2012 21:09 posted by Mark Duffett

      The words under 'For The Motion' and 'Against The Motion' appear diametrically opposite to the motion as framed in the title 'No Fracking Way: The Natural Gas Boom Is Doing More Harm Than Good'! In other words, if you are For the motion, that means you agree with the proposition in the title - but that would also mean you DISagree with the points listed above under 'For The Motion', and vice-versa!

      Accordingly, I don't know what my vote would be taken to mean, and the poll results are meaningless.

    • Comment Link Susan Sunday, 01 July 2012 20:44 posted by Susan

      This is the third time I have tried to get your attention concerning the mistake on the Voting/Where Do You Stand page. You have the comments For and Against the motions reversed and this may very well be influencing the voting. Please read the statements. It is really disturbing that a mistake like this is made on such an important issue.
      (I also made a phone call to try and get this corrected)

    • Comment Link Chett Sunday, 01 July 2012 20:44 posted by Chett

      That's a pretty biased title for a Debate.

    • Comment Link aaron milton Sunday, 01 July 2012 20:41 posted by aaron milton

      I live in Colorado and used to work in the oil and gas industry. I no longer work in that industry do to moral and health concerns.

    • Comment Link Michael Sunday, 01 July 2012 20:38 posted by Michael

      There needs to be an end to fracking, it's no good!! Legalize hemp, create a zillion of jobs cause you can pretty much replace everything with hemp for example: cardboard, styrofoam, plastic, why not cars and or homes that function on hemp oil.

    • Comment Link sarah Sunday, 01 July 2012 19:06 posted by sarah

      This is very confusing...is "the motion" pro or anti-fracking? For example, Deborah Goldberg is identified as "for" the motion, but I know Earthjustice fights against fracking. Yet above, "for" the motion seems to indicate that you are pro-fracking. Could you clarify? Thanks!

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